By Kathleen Spring
Where did Lyons’ first ranchers get their money to buy cows? Who were the first residents? What was a one-room school house like? All of these questions and more were answered in Lyons’ first successful children’s summer history day camp in July.
The camp concentrated on learning about old-time Lyons. Since it took place in the 1881 schoolhouse, it was appropriate to start the week by taking the
kids through a routine school day in 1900. They ended with practicing old-fashioned script and used these skills to decorate the front of their scrapbook, which would be filled with the week’s lessons.
A favorite scenario was acting out the daily work life of early residents. Simon Stone, 8, was the hunter who sold a fur to merchant, Beck Farrell, age 6. Then Beck deposited his money into Lyons Bank. Teller Nathan Grobaski, age 8, set up a savings account book for him. The money was lent to Samantha Grobaski, age 8, to buy some cows. Everyone lined up to buy ice cream and milk, making the dairy a success; and, manager Joni Liquori, age 10, paid off the loan and interest. Part of that interest was put into Nathan’s savings account.
Afterwards, the kids made a leather coin purse. When they were done, they asked if they could do it again. “This is the best camp ever,” said Samantha. The scenario picked up 10 years later. Everyone was now successful, from the hunter who now had 100 furs to sell, to the farmer who was able to open up a pig farm. And, all had a big savings account.
“Simon enjoyed it immensely,” said Annyce K. Stone. “Each day he came home and shared what he had learned about the town, its founding, its people, its economy, and its growth.”
A Lyons history lesson would not be complete without a day studying the quarry industry. Local quarry yard owner Paul Frysig spent the morning teaching the kids about the things that makes Lyons sandstone unique. He explained its red iron-ore content, the use of diamonds to process the hard rock, and more, using hands-on materials.
“Beck had such a fun time,” said Jocelyn Farrell. “He came home each day with many stories. He really enjoyed teaching us about Lyons history. It helped us all feel more in touch with our community.”
On the treasure-hunt timeline day, the children developed a page in their scrapbook that began with the early Arapaho’s through to the day their family moved into Lyons. It prepared them for the last day, when families were invited to join them. The kids became tour guides and, based on what they had learned all week, they were able to give an hour-long fun tour of the museum to their parents, siblings, cousins and even two grandmothers. It was followed by a celebration cake.
Each day the children paused for healthy snacks before doing the crafts which were matched to the morning’s session. They also took home daily a sheet that summarized the lessons, including a list of questions parents could ask to continue the learning experience. “Oh, yes, we loved them, and Joni knew all the answers,” said Nancy Liquori.
As Camp Director, it was my goal to spread the history of the town to the children, who would teach their parents, who in turn would share with friends and relatives.
Thanks go to energetic volunteer assistant Sage Provost. The camp would not have become a reality were not for the Lyons Community Fund grant. Due to the strapped budget of the Historic Society. More details to come on Lyons Heritage Days, September 18-19, when three new exhibits will be on display.