Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Fun Family Field Trip (Voyageur Rendezvous)

Each year, the Voyager Rendezvous re-enactment takes place at the Grand Kankakee Marsh.  We’ve talked about going for several years, but this year we actually remembered and chose to spend our day here.  What fun!  (And I’m pretty sure we can mark off this day as a school day, as we all learned a lot of neat facts!)

This is an 18th Century Fur-Trade Era Re-enactment that shows what life would have been like along the river.  We met Native Americans, French-Canadian canoe men (aka Voyageurs), British families, and more. 

We were pleasantly surprised at how truly kid-friendly this event was!  As soon as we entered, the kids were given “See and Do Scavenger Hunt” pages.   This was a great resource not only for fun, but also for encouraging families to interact with the re-enactors and have some fun conversations!

The paper listed about 25 people/items to find as you walked around the camp – items such as a wooden bowl, a fischu (“fish-you”), a British soldier, a French family, a fife, moccasins, a canoe, a French flag at camp, and silver jewelry.

two re-enactors signing off for “musket” on Alex’s scavenger hunt form


The scavenger hunt kept the kids busy looking for special items and people, making conversation with the re-enactors, and even taught mom and dad a few new things.  For example, after a very nice conversation with a French re-enactor (who went through the McDonalds drive-thru for breakfast while in full costume, ha!), I now know that a fischu is a small shawl or modesty scarf worn around a woman’s neck.

When you’re ready to leave, you can go to the Kids Trading Post to ‘trade’ your completed scavenger hunt form for a chance to dig in large bin of sand, finding beads to make your own necklace. 

making their bead necklaces (Jensyn chose a woven bracelet instead)


I didn’t get a picture of the actual game, but the boys learned how to play a Native American counting game called “Sticks”.  They were then able to make their own game (from popsicle sticks) to play at home, which we did!  

It seems there are a lot of variations of this game, but this one was pretty simple – four sticks are decorated with black and worth one point, and the fifth stick is red and worth two points.  The back of every stick is plain.  You drop the sticks, count up your points, and the next person takes a turn.  The first player to reach 10 points is the winner. (They also learned how to play Jacks, but they weren’t too interested in that one for some reason.)

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re-enactment of the Voyageurs arriving by canoe to trade with Native Americans


Voyageurs and Native Americans trading animal furs


listening to the fife and drum corps practicing for their march
(We saw their march, too, but it was drizzling and I’d put away the camera.)

Alex learning how to roll hoops

Max learning how to roll hoops
(He had passerby laughing at his attempts!)


This lovely woman was trying to teach Max how to play pick up sticks.  She said, “You drop the sticks into a pile, and the object is to pick up as many as you can.” 
So Max dropped the sticks, bent down, and picked them all up.  Open-mouthed smile

She was then a little more specific with her instructions, ha ha!

On this blanket of toys, Alex realized that the deer skin rug still had a head.


Alex made friends with this little boy name Leo,
who owned the toys on this blanket.

Leo taught him how to march.

Leo enjoyed being Alex’s “commander”!

Last night, it was in the 40s. 
Several re-enactors spent the night in this open shelter made of canoe and canvas.  Brrr!!!

We also saw tents, wigwams, and other shelters where re-enactors slept last night.
If I had to make a choice, I’d definitely sleep in the wigwam with the woodstove!

Canoe Races – and Jensyn cheering, “Yay!!!  Go! Go! Go!”

As we drove away to head home, Max said, “That was so much fun!  Can we do it again?” 

Alex and Jensyn both agreed that they really enjoyed their day, too.  Looks like we’ll have to try to visit again next year!  At least next time, we’ll know what a ‘fischu’ is!

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