Washington County Museum offers day time fun for kids

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Campers at the Washington County Museums Winter Break Camp will get the chance to try pioneer-style school, using quill-and-ink pens rather than computer keyboards.Kids can pack their wagons and hit the trail west over winter break. Winter Break Camp offered by the Washington County Museum in downtown Hillsboro is “all about hands-on activities,” explains Beth Dehn, the museum's Educational Director. Camp includes four days of lively learning for children aged 8 to 12, as well as the opportunity for new experiences and friendships. It is designed to help reinforce the current requirements of the Oregon state curriculum.

Participants may register for a single day or for all four days as they take part in realistic activities based on Oregon's heritage. Each day of Winter Break Camp is dedicated to a different aspect of pioneer life.

On Day 1, Dec. 30, “Wagon Trail,” campers learn to prepare carefully for the arduous journey west. They work in wagon teams, receive bids on their wagons, pack them, and confront simulated challenges faced by pioneers on the trail.

Day 2, Dec. 31, finds campers “Homesteading” as they learn the skills necessary for settling in once the long journey west is complete. Student pioneers work together to build homesteads, including sampling the daily tasks that allowed survival -- stacking wood, candle dipping, filling the animals' feedbags, food preparation, and simply hanging out the wash.

Day 3, Jan. 2, is all about “Village Life” and features the interactions within the new community that will make it viable. Campers may make and trade goods as they get to know their new neighbors. Pioneer fashion will also be explored.

Day 4, the final day, Jan. 3, brings campers to “School Days” and provides them with the hands-on experience of a pioneer classroom circa 1880. They write with quill and ink, do their figures on a slate, and compete in a spelling bee. They also make their own pioneer games, which they will be able to take home.

Other activities to be included in the four-day adventure are the skills of soap carving, butter making, lantern making, and the sorting of pebbles from beans. by: COURTESY PHOTO - A model log cabin at the Washington County Museum will help campers visualize their Homesteading experience on Day Two of Winter Break Camp and some of the chores theyll have to practice.

The various aspects of the four days are reinforced by a permanent display, “Washington County in a Nutshell.” Some of the items now on view include a spinning wheel and a log cabin with its intricate surroundings, made to scale. In another plexiglass case, a Union hat from the Civil War sits between a bullwhip and candle dipper. Many of the artifacts date back to early settlers of the state and the pioneers of the mid- and late-1800s, all the way to modern times. The camp will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dec. 30 and 31 and Jan. 2 and 3. There won’t be camp News Year’s Day. The cost of attending is $50 per day or $175 for all four days. Members of the Museum receive a 10 percent discount. Campers should bring outdoor clothing and pioneer garb, if they have any. Numbers are limited so early registration is recommended online at or by calling the museum's education department at 503-645-5353, ext. 133.

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