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Monday, August 22, 2011

Kings (and Queens and Pirates) For a Day through Summer Camp

Kings (and Queens and Pirates) For a Day through Summer Camp:
Westport Historical Society hosts themed 5-day program
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – To step into the subterranean room and see the gathering there, one would think he had stumbled upon some clandestine costume ball. There were young gentlemen with eye patches, ladies with jeweled crowns and other kingly-looking countenances. Yet all said adorned individuals were only between the ages of five and ten.

The dress-up and finery was all part of “Pirates, Kings & Queens”, a five-day summer camp program running August 15 to 19 at the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place. Held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each weekday, the program is coordinated by Elizabeth DeVoll, the education director for the Society.

“I inherited the program,” said DeVoll, overseeing activities in the Newman Room, the sub-level of the Society’s Westport headquarters. “This is designed to mix art, history, games and summer fun.”

DeVoll was glad to have a refreshed space in which to work, mentioning that the Newman Room was renovated earlier in the summer, to incorporate benches and Westport Playhouse memorabilia. “It’s dressed up a bit more, and speaks to the heritage of the area. Actor Paul Newman originally funded it, hence the name.”

Assisting DeVoll were three teens – Georgia Nicklin, 13, Lilly Valente, 13, and Lindsey Giannitti, 14, all Westporters – representing National Charity League. This was the second year running the girls had performed service work in the community, which is the mission of NCL. “Last year, we did 15 hours each. This year, 10. It’s a way to help in the town,” said Nicklin.

Added Valente, “We had a lot of options of programming to support. This looked fun – artsy and craftsy – and you get to work with kids. If you’re going to work in the summer, this is not a bad way to spend your time.”

“And I couldn’t do it without these girls,” said DeVoll, chiming in.

The activities were certainly keeping youngsters busy. “Today, we played with colored sand and salt shakers, and made queens’ crowns and pirate patches,” squealed seven-year-old Abbie Millman, from Westport. “We also did yoga exercises with Sue (WHS’ Executive Director Sue Gold).”

Regarding the exercise, DeVoll said, “The yoga helps mellow them out, especially on a rainy day like today. It helps them focus.”

The children’s morning of crafts was followed by a midday “Walk the Plank” activity session wherein the teen volunteers created individual stations: ring toss wherein the rings are like life preservers you toss to a person, hopping like a peg-leg pirate, drawing oneself as a pirate.

As to the balance of the week, on the agenda was a scavenger hunt at Town Hall, a tour Thursday of the Farmers’ Market behind the library, a tie-in with the Christo exhibit at Westport Arts Center and drama instructor Jen Devine coming in to conduct themed drama skits.

“These are boredom busters,” said DeVoll with regard to the activities. “A great way for kids to fill downtime before school starts again.”

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