Bringing earlier times alive – that’s the goal of the Orland Historical and Cultural Society’s annual History Camp.

Gene “Doc” Russell has hosted the camp for the last 25 years and aims to teach children about Orland’s history.

“The society members think it’s valuable that the children have knowledge of the community,” Russell said. 

He said the idea came about when he saw a photo of a historic site elsewhere doing something similar.

“And so thinking about Orland and what we have, the heritage trail of course, the antique buildings, the museum, we’ve got historical things around town,” Russell said. 

The camp runs the week after the Fourth of July each year and it took place from July 8-12 this year at the Alta Schmidt House Museum in Orland.

July 10, day three of the camp, was one of the most active days for the campers. 

Russell said the 21 campers participated in chores that may have been done in 1909-1910 – there are 14 different activities such as slow butter churning, using wash boards for laundry, corn shelling, apple peeling, ice cream making and more. 

“At the end of the week, we ask their favorite activity and most of the favorite activities are the chores,” Russell said. “... Of course if they had to do it everyday that wouldn’t be their favorite activity.”

He said back then, times were difficult and money was tight and so everyone in the family would help with different tasks. 

“A young child could carry a lantern for Dad,” Russell said. “As they got older, they could carry a bucket full of slop for the pigs or the animals or the milk … everybody had to participated and were expected to help out.”

Laurie Woodward, president of the Orland Historical and Cultural Society, was leading the corn shelling station – which is taking the kernels off the cobs. 

“This is fun for the variety,” Woodward said. “The children need the hands on (experience) to learn.”

During the exercise, she would ask the children what the cob could be used for after all the kernels were taken off – like could it be made into some sort of toy.

“I talk about 100 years ago, what did they have? There’s no store so what would you do with this?” Woodward said. “We just want to engage the children and get them to think … it’s educational, it’s getting them out of the house and learning about times 100 years ago.”

To kick off the History Camp on July 8, the campers learned about history, historians, museums and the Orland Historical and Cultural Society. 

Day two has a walking tour of Orland and a variety of historical spots are pointed out to the campers (such as the old Orland jail under the water tower). 

Family history day was on the fourth day and activities include show and tell, vintage games and a fashion show. 

Russell said John Friesen, who is originally from the area, and his wife, Janis, came from Sacramento for the oral history session with two greyhound rescue dogs. The children are given the opportunity to ask questions during the session.

On the final day of the History Camp, the campers ride on a firetruck from the museum to the Glenn County Fairgrounds where they tour the Heritage Trail buildings and ride the Orland-Newville and Pacific Railroad to the picnic area for lunch. 

Russell said they also have an awards ceremony for different contests that take place – like longest apple peel – and winners get a gift certificate. The campers then ride the train back to their awaiting parents.

“(We) put them on the train and we’re done, off they go,” Russell said.

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