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Antique Boat Museum’s February break camp for children underway

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CLAYTON — The Antique Boat Museum opened up for a special group of tiny visitors starting Monday morning for the first day of Nautical February Break Camp.

Museum Educator Julie C. Broadbent said she and intern Ember E. Garland, a junior at Thousand Islands Central School, turned the main building at the museum into an interactive exhibit and learning opportunity for camp participants.

“Where are there cleats?” said three young girls walking past the main door of the museum with their scavenger hunt clues in hand, looking for the last clue of the game. The campers’ four-inch, hand-painted periscopes were drying on a nearby table.

“The idea is to keep them moving and keep the activities going,” Ms. Broadbent said. “The museum’s created a three-dimensional activity for kids.”

The first day at camp kicked off Monday with about 10 kids between the ages of 3 months and 10 years old. The camp will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. through Friday with different themed lessons and activities.

Ms. Broadbent said the museum opened specially for the camp, giving children the opportunity to explore the museum ahead of its May 2 summer opening. For now, Ms. Broadbent said the museum belongs to the kids.

Each day children visit a different area of the St. Lawrence River and learn new skills. Ms. Broadbent said campers will learn how to use a compass, read maps, decode nautical flags, build a model of the Thousand Islands Bridge out of popsicle sticks, attempt to make a skiff out of paper and test how much “freight” they can carry down the river.

The lesson plan for the five-day camp was put together by Ms. Garland, who has been coordinating crafts and activities at the museum every Monday for the past three months.

“I was looking at different ideas and thought we’d take the kids on a trip, through the St. Lawrence, to the Great Lakes, then back home to Clayton and on to Canada,” she said.

She said when she put the lessons together she was trying to think of things that were fun and tailor them for children. Ms. Broadbent said the lessons are designed to work for all age groups and for drop-ins.

“Each day is an independent lesson,” Ms. Broadbent said. “Just like there is no age limit, just a chance to play and learn.”

Monday’s theme was an overview of journeys. Students learned about using a compass, mapped out a journey and created a periscope by painting wood blocks and gluing them together with mirrors.

Themes for the week include: Long journeys in small boats today; Great Lakes — the day the Great Lakes drained away on Wednesday; Clayton — home port on Thursday; and a journey to Canada on the last day.

“It’s great to see that so many kids came out; we hope the kids that come learn to love learning about the boats and the river,” Ms. Garland said. “It’s one of the coolest things about living around here, even if we have really cold winters.”

The lessons will ask all the campers to work at their ability level; for the bridge-building activity, Ms. Broadbent said some of the children will build the bridge while the younger children will build people out of clay to put on it.

The two-hour craft time from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. explores the St. Lawrence Seaway and the people who use it.

Each session is $5 per child for members and $7 for non-members with a family maximum of $20 per family per day. Children under the age of 7 must have an adult stay with them.

For more information or to pre-register, call Ms. Broadbent at 686-4104 or email her at jbroadbent@abm.org.

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