DEADWOOD, S.D. – If you’re looking for a summer activity your kids can ‘dig’, the Deadwood History Archaeology Camp may be a good place to start.
“It’s about the 13th year that we’ve been doing this, so it’s been a while now,” says Carolyn Weber, Executive Director of Deadwood History, Inc. “We allow kids that are in grades four through six to come, and it is June 6 through the 10, and then we also offer it June 13 through 17. It’s every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they all meet at the beginning of the day at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center in Deadwood.”
Then, kids visit and excavate sites on Bill Pearson’s property, full of discoveries from Deadwood’s original bustling mining camps.
“I thoroughly enjoy bringing these kids out to the property with these archeological camps. I think this is about the fourth or fifth year…we’ve done it on our property here, and the kids seem to really enjoy it, and I think I enjoy it as much as they do,” Pearson says. “Lately I’ve been trying to find new places for them to explore, and we found what I think is a mining camp and there’s a number of structures that have fallen down over the years in disrepair, but they’re perfect places to do some archeological studies.”
Students are assisted by an expert who also helps preserve their findings.
“We have a wonderful archeologist named Laura Floyd who has been doing this since 2oo9 for us, and then we have a local area school teacher that will be there as well and some volunteers that will help out. They always find nails and they find glass shards in ceramic shards, it seems like sometimes buttons and pieces of wood. So there’s a lot of opportunities out there to find a lot of different things, a little medicine bottles even sometimes here. What’s great about this is that these kids are helping not only themselves, but the rest of the community to better understand our history. And whatever they collect then get stored at the City of Deadwood’s archives and archival storage there,” Weber explains.
Recently, a cabin was restored on the property, and it houses history lessons during the camp.
“This cabin’s always been here, but it was just kept deteriorating each year, and I felt if I didn’t restore it, we were going to lose it forever,” Pearson says. “So I finally got it restored here in the last year, and we made that part of the archeological camp.”
With a few tools, kids can hold their town’s heritage and imagine what life was like long ago.
“There weren’t this many trees, but I think there was a lot more water, a lot more wildlife, you know, and that’s what some of these miners, they they would depend on their wildlife to for food…and it was just real wild areas. And it just amazes me that the property, which I’m out about two miles outside of Deadwood, that they actually had these mining caps set up on Two Bit Creek,” says Pearson.
Fresh air combines with history and science, and it’s a hands on experience close to home that Bill Pearson loves to be a part of.
“I always meet them when they come out the first week and a lot of them are a little skeptical and there’s little hiking involved… but I tell you, the second day they’re out here, every one of them has a smile on their face and they’re anxious to get out here.”
If you’d like to sign up, reach out to Carolyn Weber at 605-722-4800.