Town ball

Weston Davis of the Auburn Doubledays pitches during a game of town ball with children in the YMCA and Seward House Museum day camp at the Cayuga Museum of History & Art in August 2016.

A collaboration between three Auburn sites will offer children an opportunity to learn more about important figures in the city's history. 

The Cayuga Museum of History & Art, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and the Seward House Museum will partner to host the Hands-on History Camp in July.

Jeff Ludwig, director of education at the Seward House Museum, said the camp is a product of conversations between the three facilities. The Seward House has previously hosted a camp for elementary schoolchildren. The camp included a visit to the Cayuga Museum, where participants would play town ball with Auburn Doubledays players. 

With the Cayuga Museum already involved in the camp, Kirsten Wise, the museum's executive director, sought a bigger role — and an opportunity to educate children about the contributions of Theodore Case, an Auburnian who developed sound-on film technology. 

"It's such an important story that we're also trying to elevate," Wise said. "Why not have the kids come to make movies right on site?"

Together with Kim Szewczyk, a ranger at the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, the three sites developed the camp program. The week will begin at the Seward House, where campers will receive a behind-the-scenes and "white glove" tour. Ludwig said the tour will introduce children to stories about William H. Seward, the former secretary of state, and his family. 

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Campers will have a Victorian tea and luncheon with actors portraying the Seward family, learn about the Seward House's gardens and play Victorian games. 

At the Cayuga Museum, there will be activities for children with a focus on the history of the Auburn area. At the end of the week, they will return to the museum's Case Research Laboratory to make movies about what they learned during the five-day camp. 

During the day at the Tubman park, campers will participate in an archaeological dig. In the afternoon, they will walk to Fort Hill Cemetery for a picnic lunch and history lesson about the cemetery and who is buried there. Tubman's grave site is the cemetery. 

After visiting Fort Hill, children will visit the Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church and rectory on Parker Street. The church is part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park. 

The camp will conclude with participants and their families enjoying an evening of screening the movies they made at the Case Research Laboratory, and learning how to navigate through stargazing.

Szewczyk hopes the camp will have a lasting impact on its participants. 

"These kinds of experiences are going to be with them the rest of their life," she said. "If we get them interested in their parks and their historical and cultural sites now, then they'll carry that into adulthood." 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.