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s enrolled in the National D-Day Memorial’s World War II Day Camp last week.
The three-day camp allowed the campers to discover what life was like for G.I.s in the war and for civilians on the home front. Hands-on activities, crafts, living history and “ration” snacks were all part of the three-day experience.
The camp was open for students grades 3-6 and this year campers from communities all over the state attended.
So what did 9-year-old Carson Pugh of Roanoke like about the camp? “Everything,” he said Friday, as he ate his ration snack for the day.
Pugh said he enjoyed a scavenger hunt they had as well as learning about the typical gear of the soldiers.
Dale McNamara, 11, from Madison County said he has also enjoyed studying World War II so he was glad for the opportunity to attend the camp. A relative saw the information about the camp and invited him to attend.
Friday’s activities included building models of Ruperts, a paradummy device dropped during the invasion in World War II that was meant to cause the invasion by air to appear larger than it actually was.
“We introduce them to the life of the American GI during World War II,” stated April Cheek-Messier, director of education with the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. This year the campers also learned about what life was like for the German soldier.
“They got to look at a lot of artifacts,” she said.
Campers also learned about the home front. “They really got a feel for what life was like, and the sacrifices that were made by the people (at home),” Cheek-Messier stated, adding that campers learned what life would have been like for them had they been children during that time.
The reconnaissance mission included a tour of the Memorial and the campers had to remember what they were hearing for the scavenger hunt activity later. “All of these things are geared toward giving them a real broad picture of what life was like during World War II and the sacrifices that were made during that time,” she said.
This is the seventh year the camp has been held at the Memorial and some of the campers look forward to returning each year. Cheek-Messier said several are already asking about next year and would like the camp to run longer.
“They want to come back every year,” she said. “They want us to do it all day, every day, for a week.”
She said those who sign up usually already have a love for history.
“They share a lot of things with us that they learn and know. It’s fun for us to, to see their enthusiasm,” Cheek-Messier said.
Having the camp is important, she said, because it complements what is taught in schools about World War II. “We want to supplement what the kids are learning, both in the classroom and at home,” she said. “We’re not afraid to let them handle things and see things up close. ... It inspires them to want to explore more and to learn more. That’s our goal.”
The camp ended Friday afternoon with a presentation by the campers to their parents about what they learned.