Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

History Passed on to Children at Old Economy Camp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

History Passed on to Children at Old Economy Camp

Article excerpt

As Patty Clendennen plopped a lump of homemade bread dough into Julia Fawcett's hand, the 6-year-old gave a small gasp and her eyes grew wide.

"It's so soft, it feels like a big marshmallow," she said.

It's not every day that children get to shape dough into loaves and wait for it to bake in a large outdoor stone oven, but that's what a group of 15 children got to experience as part of a weeklong summer camp this week at Old Economy Village in Ambridge.

"Our history isn't passed on, and my opinion has always been that you can't have the future until you know your past," Patty Clendennen said.

For that reason, she and her daughter, Courtney, teamed up to put together a variety of activities that would give campers a faithful picture of life in the 19th century.

For three hours each day, children ages 6 to 12 discarded their modern conveniences to attend the first summer camp at Old Economy since 2009 when budget cuts almost led to the closure of the historical site.

The children began their first day of camp on Monday by making stenciled tote bags. This was followed by a lesson in baking in which they learned about the outdoor oven. They watched their teacher put their bread dough in the oven, took turns churning cream into fresh, golden butter and learned how to make herb vinegar.

"It's fun for them because I think they're noticing there are a lot of things that are the same. It was just different how you got it accomplished," Courtney Clendennen said.

When 8-year-old Lily Park found out she would be attending the camp, she was pleased because she had heard a little bit about the Harmonists. Her favorite part of camp was visiting the herb garden and getting a leaf of lamb's ear.

"It's fluffy and soft and it feels good," she said, running it against her cheek. "It was used for whenever you had cuts or you hurt yourself. …

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