My First Summer Camp

July 13, 2009 at 5:24 pm Leave a comment

© FMNH

© FMNH

This is my 8th summer working at Fernbank Museum , and every year I jokingly say “I’m going to camp this summer,” while secretly wishing I could join the fun. This past June, my wish came true when I was invited to join camp to take photos during Fernbank’s first mock archaeology excavation.

In what was once a formal garden behind a stately Druid Hills estate, sat a reflecting pool, which overtime became overgrown with weeds and wild flowers. In May, archaeology programs specialist Kate Jackson took on the daunting task of clearing out this area, pulling weeds, moving mounds of dirt and shifting heavy stones. The once unused space was transformed into a mock archaeology excavation site, complete with hidden artifacts and stratigraphy (differing layers of dirt). The purpose of this area is to expand on Fernbank’s well-established educational offerings, to provide a truly hands-on archaeology learning opportunity.

A group of eager, enthusiastic rising 4th and 5th graders in our Science Squad summer camp were lucky enough to be selected to be the first to try out the new site. I was fortunate enough to be invited along to photograph this new and exciting excursion.

It was HOT. Not just warm, but steamy, hair frizzing humid hot. I don’t like to sweat, I’d much rather be sitting the florescent glow of my often sub-zero office, so I was expecting to take a few photos and head back to my “normal” job.

What I soon realized, this was more than just kids picking through dirt. They were transformed into junior archaeologists, complete with “dig kits” (trowels, brushes, etc.) Working in pairs, each team was assigned their own 4’ x 4’ square unit, and provided with real tools to use.

We found A BONE,” exclaimed a team. Without thinking I immediately began taking pictures in that general direction, not sure what to expect to see. Without feeling the heat or even worrying if the sweat beading on my forehead would make my mascara run, I was instantly engaged. Moving from unit to unit checking out the variety of objects, some easily identifiable (a piece of pottery, shell fragments, parts of an animal skull), and some that just looked like rocks to me, but were actually pieces of flint. Flint, I learned, is one of several types of rock used by early Native Americans to create projectile points and other stone tools, such as spear points, knives, scrapers, and arrowheads.  

Perhaps the highlight of my archaeology excursion was overhearing a camper say to his partner “Since we became a team, we’ve found millions of stuff!”

Working at a museum has it’s challenges, but days like this, when I get to see our work “in action,” and most of all, get to see the response of the people we impact…let’s just say, these are the days that keep  me going.

Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

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About

At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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