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How does the Greenwich Historical Society teach today’s kids yesterday’s skills? One class at a time.

By Annelise Hanshaw | Greenwich Time | July 24, 2022

GREENWICH — Eight kids learned to churn butter, weave and make lanterns this week as they imagined what it was like to live like the Bush and Holley families in the 18th and 19th centuries.

That didn’t, however, stop most of them from appreciating the advantages of the 21st century.

“I need technology,” Porter Harrison, 7, said. “I like technology so much. Like, you can watch TV.”

Their hands-on lesson was led by the Greenwich Historical Society on the Bush-Holley House property as part of the nonprofit’s junior history camp, which incorporates colonial crafts and activities with history lessons. The Greenwich Historical Society also runs an art camp for grades 2-4 and a history and art camp for grades 5-8 in the summertime.

“I think by making them do activities that are really similar to past times, they’re going to remember the (Bush and Holley) families’ lives a little bit better and better be able to empathize with them more,” Bella Ferrante, camp instructor and historical society docent, said.

Heather Lodge, manager of youth and family programs, has led the day camp for three and a half years. She said the campers mostly learn the “fun part” of the colonial experience. She also pointed out that said some of the campers’ parents have memories learning at the Bush-Holley House property.

Of the eight students in attendance Thursday, six said they would not like to live in colonial times.

On the other hand, Emilyja Stankunas, 7, said she could imagine herself living without technology.

“It’s much more relaxing because there are no cell phones saying, ‘Text this person.’ You can just go visit them instead, and that’s better than texting them. It’s much healthier,” she said.

Bailey Haberli, 8, also thought she could make it in the 1700s. She said she can picture herself churning butter or weaving a blanket.

“I could survive because I’ve been camping,” she said. “And camping, where you have no electricity, is actually kind of easy.”

Thursday, the group spent the morning raffia weaving baskets and pulling carrots and beets to place inside.

Some bemoaned working outside in the 90-degree weather and remarked that the cool air conditioning in the classroom felt “so good.”

Their trepidations about the weather faded as they began creating their baskets while sitting in the grass.

Kylie Rich, 9, said her favorite part of the camp is making the crafts.

Mia Lithgow, 7, enjoyed making lanterns by poking holes in paper, creating designs that light up in the glow of a tealight candle.

When she signed up for camp, she said she didn’t know if she’d enjoy it: “But it actually is fun.”

Friends Kellan O’Connor, 8, and Kylie Rich, 9, enrolled around the same time because, they said, they both share a love for history.

The first day of camp begins with a tour of the Bush-Holley House, and the week ends in a historical play performed for the kids’ families.

Noelle Kohlberger, 14, is a former camper who now helps the instructors.

“There’s not really another camp where there’s history and art,” she said.