Canada’s First Peoples Camp
This week’s summer day camp theme is First Peoples of Canada! We will be learning about the various groups of First Nations who lived in Canada, such as the Iroquois people, the Mi’kmaq people, the Northwest Haida people, and the West Blackfoot people. We will also learn about the Attawandaron people; this group of First Nations were the very first people to live here around the museum.
Since we are an archaeology museum, we have displays of hundreds of artifacts used by these first people and hosting a Canada’s First Peoples Camp is a natural. The campers will get to participate in a scavenger hunt, and in the process, they will tour the entire museum! They will also get a chance to explore the longhouses located in the village outside of the museum. The longhouses are a replica of the long, narrow, single-room building that housed the First Nations. Some longhouses had 50 people living in them!
Many groups of First Nations used to craft items using birch bark. Birch bark is very special for a number of reasons. It is strong, water-resistant, it can be cut, it is malleable, and the cut pieces can be sown together. Even today, birch bark is preferred over other woods to craft items such as containers and canoes. Birch bark contains a chemical called betulin, which helps preserve the bark; canoes and other items built with this material will actually last a long time. The campers who come this week will learn about the importance of birch bark. They will also get to construct their own birch bark canoes and birch bark containers. Then on hike day, which is usually Thursdays, we trek over to the stream and race our birch bark canoes. This activity is one of the favourites for both campers and counsellors.
First Nations children did not play many of the same games as present day Canadian children. We teach some of these unique games to the children who come to camp. One game, called Owl Hop, where we compete to see who can hop on one leg for the longest, is a game First Nations children played to strengthen their legs. Of course, we will also play more familiar games such as Capture the Flags and Octopus.
On Fridays, we all participate in Quest Day. Quest day is essentially a super fun First Peoples themed adventure for both campers and counsellors. The campers are split into small groups, and each group travels to the various stations set up around the camp. In each station, they are given a challenge to complete. Some examples of challenges are “Find the Missing Canoe”, “Locate the Snowy Owl in the Trees”, “Find the Families in the Longhouses”, and our personal favourite, “Build and Balance an Inukshuk”.
We are looking forward to a week of fun, and we hope to see you here!