Thursday, August 20, 2009

Camp Tonkawa



Today we went on a wonderful outing with our friends. We went to Camp Tonkawa which is a nature awareness learning center for children located about an hour north of Dallas. The day camp that we attended was focused on learning about Native American Indians. We started our day at the longhouse with a little talk from Mrs. Holtzman.





She showed us several different drums that the Indians would have used. This big one is called Beanie Baby because her son got the drum in a trade for some Beanie Babies and a promise that the drum would be played for many people.



We learned about the Tonkawa Indians. Hundreds of years ago, the Tonkawa Indians used lived in central Texas, in area that is now Austin. They were a friendly tribe but to their detriment for they allowed the Apaches and Commanches and even the white man to push them out of their territory. Few Tonkawa Indians survive today. We learned about the tribes official seal.



We left the longhouse and headed to a field to learn how to build an authentic tipi. The children even got to help in teams of two. Two children would carry a pole and get it in place.



Once the pole was where it needed to be, one child would "walk" the pole upright and lean it against the existing frame while the other child held their end into the ground with the foot pushing down with their weight. Nicholas got to put up two of the tipi poles. Here he is "walking" one end of the pole up...



...and here he is holding down an end of a different pole as his friend "walks" it up...



Next they all worked together to wrap the rope around the top to hold it all in place. Nicholas enjoyed this part and even helped out with "flipping" the rope over some of the pole tips.





And here's the finished tipi. Quite an impressive sight. And what pride the children have knowing that they helped to put it up!



Next we got to sit near the tipi in the shade of a tree and listen to Roger, the storyteller, tell some of his amazing stories about animals.



We were in the wilderness but we did have some luxury accomodations. You do your business in a dressed-up bucket and then top it off with three scoops of cedar shavings. Nicholas was fascinated with playing with the cedar shavings. I'm sure more than three scoops went in there.



Next we learned about archery. We learned how the bows and arrows are made. We learned how to use them. And we learned some safety tips.









The arrows with the black shafts and green quills are Nicholas' shots. He did really well for the two that stuck in the target.





On to the lake! There were kids in canoes, kayaks, and just swimming. It was a lot of fun. Nicholas got some pointers about rowing but he was really just interested in having some fun.





After playing in the canoe, lots of the children were jumping in to go swimming. Nicholas wanted to join his friends but he just stayed on the dock for the longest time. He later told me that he didn't like the idea of being in the water without a boat because he couldn't see the bottom of the lake. He was worried that there might be water snakes in it. But eventually he did jump in and had a great time splashing around with his friends.





We had so much fun but it was very hot and we were very thirsty, even though I thought I had brought an excessive amount of drinking water with us. I am very grateful to our friend who watched Rachel for me while I took her son along with us to the camp. She gets fussy in the heat and there is no way that she would have napped while we were here. She would have been a cranky mess and we definitely would have had to leave early.





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