The material included in this course has been given in a day, in a week and used over extended periods of time. The level of detail, the use of materials is all subject to the resources available to the teaching team. Depending upon the age of the students, the length and complexity will vary. You should consider having as many “Hands on” artifacts available to bring the history alive. Clothes make the class. Reenactors in your community will be more than happy to help you dress the part. Decorate the room, be creative and most importantly, have fun. Do not forget to start each day with The Pledge of Allegiance. Use a 13 Star Flag.
The written history is for the teachers. Familiarize yourself with our history but make sure you convert the dates and events into stories and Hands-On experiences. There is nothing more impressive to a student than to hold an object in their hands. Please do not just read history to them. There are plenty of history books they can read themselves. Patriot camp is about understanding our nation’s beginnings, understanding the hardships our founders and citizens experienced and gaining an appreciation for the great land we live in.
Games, snacks, crafts are all good ways to help tie the program together. There is, however, one suggestion that you should use to help demonstrate the entire point of this camp. Encouraging questions is critical to teaching history. The camp should be interactive and not a one-way presentation on historical events. When students ask a good question, they should receive a reward. As a suggestion, consider using candy coins or wrapped gold colored candies, especially for longer camps of several days to a week. They should be told to save them so that at the end of the camp, the “coins” can be used to purchase items in a “colonial store.” The store should be outfitted with small inexpensive items and priced accordingly. It is a nice last day activity that younger campers enjoy.
On the last day, the use of this incentive will become apparent. A small bag or pouch to keep them in will help keep the concept of rewards organized. Making a pouch can be a great first day project. To end your camp, there will be a discussion about the Bill of Rights. It is important to make sure that at the end of the camp, the concept of a “Constitutional Republic” is understood by the students. Our country is uniquely different than most. To describe a constitutional republic, plan to do this:
Ask the students on the beginning of the last day, who has the most coins? There will be one student who has been the most inquisitive. Now ask the other students who would like some of that student’s coins? You will always have every other hand go up. Everyone always wants some of what the high achiever has earned. What the class has just done is demonstrated a pure democracy where the majority can vote away the earned benefits of a minority.
To demonstrate Socialism, everyone would put all their coins in a bowl. After the persons in charge took out whatever amount they wanted, the rest would be divided equally among the students. There would be no regard to who asked the most and best questions, just equal distribution and wealth for those in charge. The unfortunate part of Socialism is that for the next camp or class, there would be no incentive to ask questions because everyone would get candy anyway. This probably would result in less and less candy with each class until you run out of candies in your bowl. Good time to discuss what the “Incentive” means when we apply it to personal success. Finally, there probably are a few that have no candy or very little. This is a good time to teach about the virtue of generosity. Those who have much should consider sharing.
Begin your discussion on our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Explain that under our government, the student with the most coins has rights, inalienable rights, that protect them from the majority. It will be then that you walk through each of those rights on that last day, pulling together the story of American history, using common sense. Our Bill of Rights was carefully crafted through the lessons of history, thereby, sustaining the very nature of human rights long before our country was even born. The student with the most coins earned them and, in our Constitutional Republic, gets to keep them.
Goals and Objectives, Other Worthwhile Pursuits
The Patriot Camp concept is meant to be a short program, something fun to bring history alive. There are however, some goals and objectives that should be at the core of any camp. While not every game or exercise is defined here, the camp experience should always have at a minimum, the following concepts:
Debt – to borrow is not necessarily a bad thing but to borrow too much and for the wrong reasons can lead to painful consequences. Debt must always be paid back.
Liberty – The idea that there are truths that are self-evident, the truth that all men are created equal, that people are endowed by a Creator, a power greater than us, with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This is what separates our nation from most others. At the foundation of Liberty is the Bill of Rights. To lose any of those rights is to lose our liberty.
Taxes – The concept that a government must legitimately raise funds to function but that with taxes, there is always an attempt to control the citizens behavior. Taxes are rarely applied to things people do not want. Taxes, the resources of the people, should never be squandered.
Inflation – The concept of a value that can change over time due to events such as supply, demand, even just rules and regulations. What controls inflation? Adequate supply, reasonable demand and the elimination of the constant rule-making of a bureaucracy.
Sacrifice – There is no greater learning that can occur than to understand that to be free, to have freedom has never been “free.”
Injustice – While difficult for young students to grasp, the world is not a just and fair place. It is our response to injustice, what we do when we see it, that defines its people.
Monopolies – While the greatest of historical monopolies was the East India Tea Company, monopolies still exist today. They can be government sponsored or created by private industry. The camp should always stress the benefits of individual competition.
Something for Nothing – The idea that people never really receive things free without work, sacrifice or even a few strings attached is a hard lesson to learn. Life is to be built upon Hope, Hard Work, Sacrifice, Charity and Faith. These are the greatest lessons any student can learn from history.