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Living History campers get crafty with lessons on 19th-century life

Living History Camp teaches children the skills they would have needed to survive rural life in the 1800s.

Carefully hooking a piece of fabric through burlap, 8-year-old Maryrose Hingley's face expressed myriad emotions as she strived to learn the new craft.

Maryrose, of Eldersburg, was one of 15 campers who scampered about the grounds during the Carroll County Farm Museum's annual Living History Camp on Thursday morning.

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"I think it's hard when you first try it," Maryrose said. "Once you get the hang of it, it feels good because you've learned the best way to do it."

According to Living History Camp coordinator Lana Montgomery, the camp teaches children the skills they would have needed to survive rural life in the 1800s. A total of 91 campers will learn old-time skills from master craftsmen, play old-fashioned games and make traditional arts projects over a three-week period.

"The hands-on experiences and demonstrations make history come alive as campers travel back in time each day," Montgomery said. "I think that a lot of kids have a new appreciation of what early Carroll County life was like and what hard work it took to have a life here. Some kids have never gotten up close with animals, but here they learn where their food and clothing comes from."

Montgomery explained that groups of campers rotate hourly to learn rug hooking, marble shooting, wood staining, lettuce planting and candle dipping. Earlier in the week, they studied blacksmithing, tinsmithing and woodworking. Campers will display their projects for their families during the camp's county fair at the end of each week.

Volunteer Meg Edleman, of Westminster, delighted in teaching the campers old-fashioned rug hooking.

"When clothes couldn't be worn anymore, they cut them into strips and pulled it through burlap," Edleman said. "There are some rugs that are still around from the Civil War. They last because they're made of 100 percent wool."

Natalie Brown, of Westminster, said she enjoyed rug hooking.

"It's a challenge. You have fun finding where the string is," said Natalie, 8.

Mallie Herb, of Westminster, said she has learned lots of things at camp.

"My favorite part was getting to do the weaving. I made coasters for my parents," said Mallie, 8. "We've learned about the Hoff Barn and the oxen. They used to do a lot of work around here. We also learned about tinsmiths and how they made candle holders and about blacksmithing. When a horseshoe broke, the farmer took the horse to the blacksmith so it could get repaired."

While campers rotated in a circle around a tub of hot wax and a tub of cold water to create candles, 8-year-old Andrew Sarabia, of Hampstead, said the craft was "just OK."

"It's nice to learn to make them, but you get bored doing the same thing over and over," Andrew said.

After learning to craft a marble bag, 7-year-old Chase Williams, of Hampstead, tried his hand playing marbles.

"We're learning about all the old stuff," Chase said. "I learned to make a tool box, weave and how to make a candle."

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Rosie Bavetta, of Westminster, said the best part of camp was running through the museum's misters to cool off, but she said she also enjoyed learning new games.

"It's my first time playing marbles. I liked it because it was interesting to learn the rules of a new game," said Rosie, 8.

Diligently staining a toolbox with varnish, 8-year-old Rebekah O'Hara, of Sandymount, said she was having fun.

"I like that it's kind of like painting. It's not something I get to do much," Rebekah said.

Counselor Lillie Hamm, of Westminster, has been teaching at the camp for 14 years.

"Many of the kids return the next year or become volunteers," Hamm said. "My motto is if they're not having fun, I'm not doing my job."

Eight-year-old Anya Gumert, of Finksburg, said she loved everything about camp.

"I think I'll definitely be back next year," Anya said.

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