Now this just seems flat-out cool -- a chance for your kids to play the part of Union soldiers during the Civil War. The three-day camp at The Landing in Shakopee next week puts kids ages 9 to 12 through drills, marches, camps and other routines of 19th-century soldiering (including old-time baseball and rope-making).

The day camp starts with the 24 boys or girls being assigned to various town or farm jobs before they are "enlisted" into the Union Army. The soldiers are assigned tents and receive blue uniforms along with muskets (wooden replicas. Don't worry, there are no fixed bayonets.)

Volunteers from the Fifth Minnesota living history group act as officers and sergeants, preparing their new enlistees for the culmination of the camp -- a skirmish against Confederate troops on the third and final day. The kids then return to town at The Landing to perform drills for parents and show them their campsites. 

The camp, now seven years old, has special significance this year because it is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, said Jefferson Spilman, superintendent of The Landing, which is run by the Three Rivers Park District. The age group for the camp is ideal, he added, because tweens are able to grasp the historical information about the war as well as the drills.

(Picture is from a similar camp in Kentucky, not the local camp. But you get the idea ...)

Maybe it's just me, but history seems like the forgotten stepchild of summer -- considering how many youth camps are available for sports or art or scientific disciplines such as robotics and engineering. But camps like this are out there if you look for them. The Dakota County Historical Society offers two "Life with the LeDuc Family"  camps this summer that immerse kids in 19th-century life at the LeDuc historic estate in Hastings.  

Stuff To Do series:

  1. Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
  2. Spring Skiing in Lutsen
  3. Civil War Summer Camp

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