by Toby J. Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

Rendezvous, French for “meeting place,” was the name used to describe large gatherings of fur traders in the 1800s. Today, most fourth grade students in the Poudre School District know it as a special event held each spring to help reinforce the material covered in their state history unit. For those of us at the Museum, the Rendezvous is a culmination of months of planning and coordination that comes together with the arrival of more than a thousand students and many dedicated volunteers. Together, the experience is one that helps build lasting memories and a shared community experience.

Whenever I mention that I work for the Fort Collins Museum, people often share a story of a past visit. From my own personal experience, early school trips to zoos and museums helped to form a lifelong career. Events like the Rendezvous allow people to build lasting relationships with facilities like museums, often serving as both introduction and positive memory. First-hand experiences can be much more powerful than simply reading about a subject in a textbook. Having the chance to touch the past helps to bring history to life, making it relatable to the student’s experience.

With just a few props and their genuine enthusiasm for the subject, volunteers can hold a group of students mesmerized with the promise of panning for gold. The fact that the “gold” is in reality only BBs submerged in a plastic tub is irrelevant to the experience, as the students are transported to another time and place. These positive experiences not only pave the way for further learning, they help to establish a sense of good will towards the museum creating future visitors, patrons, and in some cases, museum professionals.

Read the article in the Fort Collins Coloradoan for more.

4th graders at Rendezvous learn about the days of the fur trappers

4th graders at Rendezvous learn about the days of the fur trappers

The beautiful art of basket weaving demonstrated by Linda Aguilar

The beautiful art of Native American basket making demonstrated by Linda Aguilar

Panning for gold at Rendezvous 2009!

Panning for gold at Rendezvous 2009!

May 2009

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