By Amanda O'Rourke
SELINSGROVE — Second-graders stared with wide eyes at Civil War re-enactor Heather Hibbs on Wednesday as she detailed the many ways the plants they see outside their homes every day were used as medicine in the 1800s.
Hibbs’ presentation was part of Westward Ho, a class at the Kids’ College, being held this week at Susquehanna University.
In Westward Ho, kids learn what life was like for western pioneers, from how they treated illness, to how they prepared food and what kids their age would have played with.
It was all information that led Carter Casimir to the conclusion that he prefers life in the 21st century versus that of the 19th century.
“Not enough of the new technology,” Carter, 9, of Lewisburg, said. “I don’t think I would have liked to go out and leave a lot of my stuff behind in the East when you go out West because you need, like, only the essential stuff. You won’t be taking any toys, except maybe a bag of marbles and a bag of jacks.”
The summer camp is all about helping kids learn in ways they may not in today’s classrooms, said camp director Kathy Lentz.
“Certainly, it’s important to keep kids’ minds from rusting, but I also think that we have a philosophy that this is the way kids are meant to learn, that it isn’t always about picking up a pencil and doing a worksheet,” Lentz said. “They’re born with this kind of curiosity, and all of our activities hopefully nurture that and bring it out.”
Other Kids’ College classes include Curtain Up, a drama class, and From Plant to Plate, a class that takes students into the garden and teaches them to cook with the food they find there.
Buzzing in retired elementary teacher Nan Ruhl’s class was the class Bug It Up, where kids learn about the insect world. Bug It Up gives children a close-up and hands-on look at caterpillars and moths, lady bugs and bees. They even get to make their own edible bugs and bee hives.
Especially brave youngsters can test their palette by crunching on a real cricket — bacon-and-chedder flavored to make it go down easier.
Lentz’s class, How to Think Like Leonardo, sought to engage the creative side of students like Sydney Hartzell, who acted as an apprentice of famed artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, exploring nature, solving puzzles and trying her hand at drawing.
This is Hartzell’s third year at Kids’ College, an experience she said helps her learn without feeling like she’s in school.
“I love it because it keeps me active in the summer,” Hartzell, 11, of Lewisburg, said. “And it’s not even really school. It’s just fun activities where you get to see your friends and learn new things that you didn’t know before.”