By Maddy Vitale
Did you ever wonder who founded Ocean City? What about when the Boardwalk was built? Did you ever hear of a ship named Sindia?
These are just some of the questions that will be answered during the Ocean City Historical Museum’s History Camp.
Sessions are $25 per child and run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 9-13 and July 16-20 and Aug. 6-10. The camp, in its third year, is sponsored by the Friends and Volunteers of the Ocean City Free Public Library, and includes snacks, prizes and a pizza party.
Babs Stefano, vice-president of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, said the children love history camp.
“It is a fun, exciting way to learn about the history of Ocean City,” she said.
The July camps, called “Museum Camp,” are designed to teach kids how to be tour guides. Children ages 7 and up are invited to attend the program. The camp offered in August called “Making History” is for children 10 and up. It offers a challenge for kids to select a topic, do research on it, and give a presentation to the public in the library on the last day of camp.
About seven museum volunteers explain the rich history of Ocean City to the “campers.”
Stefano said during the July camps, children learn specific facts about the historical pieces in the museum.
“They become official tour guides for the last day of camp,” Stefano explained. “The museum volunteers don’t do the tours that day. The kids do.”
The older “campers” showcase what they learned in the August camp with a presentation.
“What I stress in the “Making History” camp is they learn research techniques,” Stefano, a retired teacher said. “It helps them in school.”
Last year children picked interesting topics for their presentations, Stefano said. One child explained the history of Ocean City’s mascot dog “Hobo.” Another child discussed the pools at the historic Flanders Hotel.
Theo Wood, a University of Pennsylvania student, works at the museum in the summer. He helps with the history camps.
“I like working with the kids and helping them learn about history in a more fun and interesting way,” Wood said.
The kids participate in scavenger hunts, crossword puzzles and other educational games.
The scavenger hunts are always a hit with the camp kids, Stefano noted.
The students each get their own clipboard and badge and they go around and hunt for the objects on their piece of paper.
“They have a lot of fun,” Stefano noted.
This year the history camp is introducing a new game, involving a 24-piece puzzle. There are clues where to find the pieces, which are scattered in the museum.
“It may say to find a puzzle piece behind the Sindia compass,” Stefano said.
She said the goal of the camps is to show younger people all that the museum has to offer about Ocean City.
“We needed something that could get the kids interested in the museum,” Stefano said. “We wanted to show them all of the things they could learn.”
Al Crescenzo, a museum volunteer and retired teacher, said the history camps have been a success and he hopes they could offer expanded daily hours for the camps in the future.
Kids loved it so much the first year, they returned for the second camp, he said.
Lori Palombo, of Upper Township, stopped by the museum Monday to find out more about the history camps. Palombo was a history major in college and thought her 8-year-old daughter might benefit from the camp.
“I think it is great,” she said to Stefano. “Maybe, I will have my daughter do it.”
Stefano said the camps offer more than just learning about history.
The children become friends.
“By the second day of the camp the kids form bonds. One little boy made a friend and his mom said he finally found someone he could really relate to,” she said. “The relationships they make with us as museum volunteers and each other is amazing.”
The Ocean City Historical Museum is located at 1735 Simpson Ave. For more information visit www.ocnjmuseum.org or call (609) 399-1801.