The children at the Ohio River Museum's Wet, Wild and Wonderful Camp this week may not realize it, but when they're playing "predator and prey" tag, dressing in pioneer clothing or riding on the Valley Gem sternwheeler, they're actually learning.
Telling them about the Native Americans who once called the area home or other facts might not catch the incoming third- through sixth-graders' attention, but getting them active and involved gets them excited, said Katie Swejk, a Marietta College student helping with the camp as part of a summer course.
"The kids really enjoy doing crafts that are related to what we do," she said. "They really enjoy acting as if they're part of what we're doing."
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Marietta resident Jordan Straw, 8, decorates the covering for his model teepee Tuesday during the Wet, Wild and Wonderful Camp at the Ohio River Museum.
And they can pick up facts along the way, as 7-year-old Waterford resident Macey Johnson did while the 11 campers made models of tepees Tuesday.
"I didn't know that Indians could move tepees or carry them around," she said.
Prior to that, the campers attempted to craft items from pieces of flint.
and Wonderful Camp themes
Monday - Wildlife of Ohio.
Tuesday - Native Americans.
Wednesday - Pioneers.
Thursday - Water
"We're trying to, like, cut it to make a shape,"
said 8-year-old Kayla Stewart of Marietta. "We're trying to make knives for our parents so they can cut stuff."
That's one way Native Americans used the arrowheads, spears and other instruments they fashioned out of stones like flint, said Esther Starner, 8, of Marietta.
"We learned about what the Indians did with no electricity and how they hunted things," she said.
Stewart and fellow camper Lucy Spung, 7, of Vincent, said they knew even before coming to the camp that Native Americans had once called the Mid-Ohio Valley home.
"I've been studying them all my life," Stewart said, adding that she likes to look for books about Native Americans when she goes to the library.
The Adena and Hopewell Indians lived in the area thousands of years ago, but evidence of their civilizations remains around Marietta today in the form of mounds like the Capitoleum, upon which the Washington County Public Library sits, the Turtle Mound between Third and Fourth streets and the large, conical mound that is the namesake of Mound Cemetery.
The area also has a darker connection to Native American history - the conflict and violence that eventually led to the Indian Wars. But Glenna Hoff, educator with the Campus Martius and Ohio River museums, said the camp's content focuses mainly on the everyday lives of the tribes.
"We're trying to get away from the stereotypes (that you see) in the movies," she said.
"We were surprised, with the flint knapping, how hard they worked on it and how much they got out of it," Hoff said.
The goal was "to give them the idea of how hard it would have been, how skillful the people would have been" to make items from that material, she said.
Monday's theme was the wildlife of Ohio, blending science with the history and social studies topics more often associated with the museum.
"We touched fur, real fur from animals," said Jordan Straw, 8, of Marietta.
There will also be a science component to Thursday's theme of water, with campers learning about the special properties of water, among other subjects.
"I like to point out that we have the (W.P.) Snyder (Jr., at the museum) and it was coal-powered, and the Valley Gem is biodiesel," Hoff said.
Language arts and math are also worked into the activities.
Today's theme is pioneers, with students taking a look at Marietta's history as the first organized settlement in the Northwest Territory in the time when Ohio was the United States' western frontier.
The four-day camp is a return to the previous format of the museums' summer events. For the last few years, "Fridays at the Museum" activities were offered with the idea that more people could participate in events held on a periodic basis. But Hoff said she prefers consecutive days of activity.
"I think it kind of gets them more locked in to a schedule," she said.
Madison Thieman contributed.