Looking for a way to educate youngsters about Civil War history, re-enactor Bill McElwee approached the Carroll County Farm Museum to help organize a School of the Soldier. The inaugural event, for children ages 10 to 13, will be held Saturday, April 30, at the museum in Westminster.
"It's going to be an exciting, fun, unforgettable learning experience," McElwee said.
Farm Museum Director Joanne Weant said the School of the Soldier fits well with the organization's educational mission.
"The great thing about this program is its very hands-on," Weant explained. "They will start with a muster and be divided up into sides so two kids that came together might end up on different sides just like during the Civil War."
McElwee, of Sparrows Point, said participants will perform many of the same duties as a Civil War soldier. Re-enactors will teach students how to march, how to handle their weapons and how to set up a camp.
"It's great for any child with an interest in history," McElwee said. "Part of what we do as reenactors is try to keep the history alive."
McElwee, who portrays a colonel in the 2nd Battalion Army of Northern Virginia, said children cannot participate in re-enactments until they are 14 and cannot take the field with a weapon until they're 16. However, at the end of the April 30 event, participants will partake in a simulated battle scrimmage that their parents can watch.
Re-enactor Jim Burke, of Gettysburg, is part of the school's organizational committee and said he believes the event will appeal to a variety of children.
"They'll get to be with other kids their age and be outside," Burke said. "If they're interested history, it will be a great learning experience."
Burke said he hopes participants will develop the same camaraderie he experiences during re-enactment encampments.
"All kinds of people do this hobby. You meet a lot of interesting people," Burke said.
If you go
What: School of the Soldier
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 30
Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster
Cost: $25 per child
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Includes lunch and commemorative T-shirt. For ages 10-13. Register by April 22 by calling 800-654-4645.