Boy Scout Troop 33 in DeKalb “traveled” more than 200 years back in time when they spent a weekend at a living history event in Ashippun, Wisconsin.
Scattered over acres of land were historic camps under canvas tents and tarps filled with authentic furnishings and tools. Seeing and meeting re-enactors in period dress and manner brought everything to life. They told great stories, explained how things worked, and were happy to answer every question.
Historic camps included fur trappers, French voyageurs, long riflemen, mountain men, Native Americans, traders, musicians, highlanders, Civil War cavalry, infantry, artillery, plus French and British settlers. A large circle of teepees replicated those used by the Cheyenne Plains Indians during the early 1800s.
The weather was a challenge for camping, but neither the rain and wind on Saturday, nor the frost and freezing temperatures on Sunday morning could dampen the boys’ spirit of discovery. They were eager to explore all the areas, excited to learn new things about old times. One location introduced them to the sport of tomahawk throwing. Scouts tried their best to hit a playing card on a wooden target. A re-enactor offered sage advice on how to improve their throwing style. In one tent, a British woman demonstrated a hand-cranked wood lathe. Visitors turned a wheel while she sculpted a piece of spinning wood.
Battery A, 4th U.S. Light Artillery, Cushing’s Battery, instructed Scouts in a mock firing of their Civil War cannon. The boys were assigned firing positions and instructed in each step. The training taught Scouts the importance of precision teamwork.
Next to the teepees, people gathered at dusk around a sacred fire, known to Native Americans as a drum circle. Scouts were given a small drum to beat during parts of a ceremony. Stories explained the meaning of each part of the ceremony.
An infantry soldier demonstrated various rifles and pistols used during the era. Cavalry soldiers rode horses across a field in drill formation. There were so many different things to see and do, the Scouts couldn’t find time for everything.