Summer programs at the Fort Collins Museum

by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education, Fort Collins Museum

Lately I’m receiving calls from people interested in the Museum’s summer programs. Most are from parents and grandparents asking when is registration (April 4), what are the age requirements (different for each program, but all geared for elementary ages), what’s the dress code (kids can check out period clothing from our costume library). Occasionally, someone calls interested in teaching our programs. The most recent job-inquiry voice mail was left by a young woman from Oregon. You might wonder how someone in Oregon knows about summer job opportunities at a local history museum in Colorado, but this woman, Lydia, lived in Fort Collins as a child and participated in our Boxelder Schoolhouse program.

Now, my first reaction upon listening to her message was, “Hey! I remember you!” And then I though, “Oy, I’m getting old.” I remember Lydia as an elementary-aged girl attending Boxelder as a student and now she’s a college-aged student looking for a job! And then I landed on, “Wow, that’s impact.” Lydia must have had such fun as a student that her enthusiasm for the program remains with her, even 8 years later, and she wants to return as a teacher.

This is not the first time I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the impact of our summer programs. When people learn that I work at the Fort Collins Museum, the Boxelder Schoolhouse program is often the first thing they mention. Many past-program participants return to the museum as teen volunteers during the summer, assisting teachers and helping the youth participants with projects. Some have even returned at the age of 18 to teach themselves. And a couple are now parents themselves who have registered their own children in our summer programs. And how’s this for reach: I lived in Pittsburgh for a couple of years and someone I met there had lived in Fort Collins in the late 90s. She remembered, 10 years later and 1,500 miles away, that two little girls from her street had attended Boxelder Schoolhouse and loved it.

So why do our programs resonant in the community the way they do? I think it’s because all of our programs, Boxelder Schoolhouse, Wild West Days, and Early American Home Arts, are immersive. Kids get to see, and hear, and taste, and smell and touch things they don’t normally get to in their everyday lives. And that will be true for our new program, Jr. Scientists Camp, too. It just validates Confucius: I hear and I forget. I see and remember. I do and I understand. And in the case of Fort Collins Museum summer programs, I come back.

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Registration for summer programs begins at 9:00 Saturday, April 4th. These programs fill up fast, so be sure to register early! Program costs are discounted for families with Discovery Science Center memberships. Not a member? You can sign up for a membership Saturday when you register, and still receive the discount. Contact Treloar Bower (416-2768 or email tbower-at-fcgov.com) for more information or if you have questions.

Anita Morin teaches a traditional Crow dance during the Wild West Days summer program

Anita Morin teaches a traditional Crow dance during the Wild West Days summer program

Panning for gold during the Wild West Days summer program

Panning for gold during the Wild West Days summer program

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