Tricia Powell, of Roseburg, walked around the semi-circle of children holding a small vial of musk, typically used as bobcat bait, for everyone to smell.
A few children winced as soon as the odor reached their nostrils. Among the group, a series of “yucks” and “ews” were exchanged. For fourth grader Simon Richards, being able to smell the musk was cool.
“It smelled like a fish that’s been cooked,” Richards said.
The smelling exercise was part of activities on the third day of Patriot Camp, where nearly 100 campers gathered at Hucrest Community Church of God to learn about American history.
This year focused on events under Thomas Jefferson’s administration and his interest in exploring the West — in particular, the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Campers ranged from first to sixth grade and were placed based on grade level.
To help immerse kids in the Lewis and Clark expedition, six stations were set up for 25-minute intervals to educate campers about what life would have been like.
At Powell’s station, campers learned the basics of trapping animals while being able to touch pelts and learn about traps.
“A good trapper checks his traps multiple times a week or every day to make sure the animal doesn’t chew off its leg and run away,” Powell said.
Powell began volunteering at various events with her children and her late husband to help people learn about trapping. She was joined Wednesday by her son, Isaac Powell.
Other educational sessions included classes where students learned about animals that were seen on the expedition and a craft session where students used hot glue guns to create log campfire displays.
Patriot Camp began in 2018 after camp director Linda Middlekauff felt Americans weren’t being taught about their history.
“My friends and I have been concerned for like 25 years about this,” Middlekauff said. “We saw it starting to happen when our kids were in school.”
Patriot Camp was originally based on a camp in Utah, and Middlekauff has worked with others to create curriculums that will teach a different aspect of American history every year.
“Our goal is to go from the pre-colonial days, that’s where we started, all the way to the Civil War and Reconstruction so they can get a real picture of all that went before,” Middlekauff said.
In previous years, students learned about amendments in The Bill of Rights. This year’s camp quiz focused on helping students memorize the preamble. Every student who was able to recite the preamble was awarded a gift certificate.
Students were also able to sign their names on a large poster with enough space for 100 signatures to show their achievement.
The day ended with students singing and dancing to patriotic songs before being reminded by Middlekauff that all these would be performed for the final day parade where family members of campers will attend.