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June 27, 2006

What Was Life Like For Children On The Eve Of The American Revolution?

Through August 27, Colonial Williamsburg provides numerous exciting educational programs for children and their families through “A Kid’s Summer Program 2006.” The programs take place in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and they are offered seven days a week.

The programs center around two main themes--“The Collapse of the Royal Government: Life Goes On” and “Citizens At War: Life is Hard.” “The Collapse of the Royal Government: Life Goes On” focuses on the everyday occurrences in the lives of people during this confusing political period before the Revolutionary War.

The second theme, “Citizens At War: Life is Hard,” takes guests on a journey through life during the Revolutionary War, demonstrating how tradesmen’s lives were impacted, and how 18th-century Williamsburg residents dealt with war on a daily basis. Special programs that depict the daily lifestyles of both themes also are offered. One such summer program is “The Apprentice!” which takes a peek into colonial trades. The participants visit three different trade shops, and through this interactive experience learn what having this particular job entails. At the end of the tour, the participants choose what job most suits them, and with a pen stroke they sign away their fate on replica apprentice contracts.

The programs are run on specific days, and a schedule of these events can be obtained at the Visitor Center. The schedule includes:

The Collapse of the Royal Government: Life Goes On.

  • Colonial Garden- Stop by and see what’s up in the garden, then lend a hand with the work. (Open daily, weather permitting)
  • Wythe House –“George Wythe, Quiet Patriot and Man of Science.” George Wythe was a lawyer, teacher, patriot and lifelong learner. His finest student, Thomas Jefferson, said of him, “No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe.” Come and see what he meant. (Closed Tuesdays-See Special Programs)
  • Geddy House–“Silver and Success.” Experience his “sterling” family and successful business and find out how they are affected by the recent troubles. (Closed Wednesdays)
  • Magazine–“A Hub of Military Activity.” A quiet place in times of peace, the Magazine is very busy as the conflict builds. Are you prepared for the war? (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
  • Randolph House–“To Run or Stay, A Question of Freedom.” Free and enslaved Virginians are debating what it means to be free. When the master of the house, Peyton Randolph, dies in Philadelphia, he is accompanied by his servant Johnny, who fears that he and other slaves may be sold. Learn how the question of freedom becomes even more important when Lord Dunmore offers freedom to slaves of rebel masters. (Closed Sundays)
  • Powell House –“Benjamin Powell, From Carpenter to Gentleman.” Visit the Powell House and experience the rhythm of the day and the Powell’s at play. (Closed Mondays)
  • Great Hopes Plantation –“Land and Slaves.” Most free and enslaved families in Virginia lived on small farms like the one at Great Hopes. Learn how Pompey, Molly Roberts, Sukey and other enslaved people lived and worked with their young middling masters, Benjamin and Sarah Valentine. Find out how they are affected by the events taking shape in Williamsburg and beyond. (Closed Wednesdays)

    Citizens At War: Life is Hard.

  • Colonial Garden. With so many men away fighting, the gardeners need your help. Stop by and see what chores need to be accomplished. (Open daily, weather permitting)
  • Wythe House–“George Wythe, Quiet Patriot.” Wythe proposed to fight in the Revolution, but his true service remained in government. He was one of two members of the committee who designed the state seal of Virginia, which reads, “Sic Semper Tyrannis” or “Thus Ever to Tyrants.” Come design your own seal. (Closed Tuesdays–See Special Programs)
  • Geddy House –“A Lack of Custom.” Discover what James Geddy must do to preserve his family in this time of crisis. (Closed Wednesdays)
  • Magazine –“A Hub of Military Activity.” The Magazine is quiet no more. As a center for supplies for the growing army it is very busy as the war heats up. Are you prepared for battle? (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
  • Randolph House–“Gone to the Enemy!” The British occupation of Williamsburg in 1781 is the opportunity for Eve, Billy and the other Randolph slaves to be “gone to the enemy.” They must make the decision whether to remain with Mrs. Randolph or to join the “baggage train” of more than 1,000 former slaves seeking immediate freedom under the authority and protection of Cornwallis’ army. (Closed Sundays)
  • Powell House–“Benjamin Powell, Through the War.” War and independence change Benjamin Powell’s family’s life, but one thing must be remembered--family life goes on, no matter what. Come help with the day-to-day, season-to-season activities that must still be done. (Closed Mondays)
  • Great Hopes Plantation –“Duty for All.” In 1779, Benjamin Valentine performed his civic duty in the militia, leaving his wife, children and enslaved people behind. What role did Sarah Valentine play in protecting the home? What could the children do to help?(Closed Wednesdays)

    Special Programs and Activities

  • The Apprentice! Visit three trade shops on this guided tour and decided exactly what you want to be when you grow up. The tradesmen and women “sell their trades,” providing an exclusive, interactive experience to prospective “apprentices.” Tickets cost $15 for adults and children age 6 and over and $7.50 for children under 6. (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays)
  • Governor’s Palace Kitchen. Stop by the kitchen and see what’s likely to be on Lord Dunmore’s or Governor Henry’s dinner table. (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday)
  • Subjects No Longer: The Privilege of Citizenship –Wythe Site. What does citizenship mean to you? Visit the Wythe site and explore the meanings, privileges, costs and rewards of being a citizen of a free nation. (9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays. Reservations required.)
  • Necessities, Niceties and Luxuries Tour-Greenhow Lumber House. Those who could afford the best, newest and most fashionable items were eager to show off their availability to buy these luxuries. With a trained guide, explore how people in the capital city used their possessions to let everyone know of their success. (10 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Reservations required.)
  • Theater for the Young and Young at Heart–Play Booth Theater. You are invited to participate in this play and learn a bit about 18th-century acting along the way. (11 a.m. Fridays)
  • Family Fun Time–Charlton Coffeehouse. Walk down the path and have a seat. You never know who you may meet. The program changed from day to day, so stop by to see what’s up today. (2-3:30 p.m. daily, weather permitting)
  • Revolutionary City Kids’ Corner. There are areas set up especially to offer games, storytelling and other activities for families with children: dancing between Shields Tavern and the Palmer House (10:30 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday); and 18th-century games, toys and activities (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30-4:30 p.m. daily behind the Raleigh Tavern).

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required in order to attend these programs.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



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