Student Volunteers for a Unique Living History Experience
December 2nd-4th, 2016
Prairie Grove, AR
GREETINGS EDUCATORS, ADMINISTRATORS AND PARENTS,
This packet is an open invitation for your student(s) to participate in a once in a lifetime experience that will excite
and inspire your young people for history. History is a very difficult subject to excite young people about as it involves
a lot of dates, names and dry information that tend to bore students. This is especially evident with today’s generation
of students who live in a internet wired and technology heavy world where the events of the past can seem unimportant
or tedious to learn. Whereas other subjects in modern curriculum have adapted to suit this technology generation
that learns better with hands on activities and new learning tools, history sadly still relies on memorization and repetition
to teach, leaving modern student disinterested.
However there is a well established and highly interactive tool that can break through this “boredom barrier”.
The experience known as Living History (also sometimes called Historical Reenacting) offers a hands on glimpse into
other periods of American life and allows students to see, hear and feel the happenings of history for themselves often in
the very surroundings of actual historical events. By wearing the clothes, eating the foods, and living the experiences of
the past the stories of previous eras of history come to life for the student and suddenly dry information such as dates and
names have meaning. The lessons of history are understood more intimately and a passion for the past is fostered that
translates into all eras of history.
In the United States all eras of American History have enthusiastic followings among Living History hobbyists
but no time period receives as much attention or support as the American Civil War. This important chapter in the history
of the American experience and is considered the first major turning point of our nation. In fact most college History
curriculums divide American History education into periods before and after the Civil War. Topics such as the role
of government, racial issues, economics, regional politics, industrialization, and western expansion are key to this period
of history. In addition great stories of American heroism, perseverance, patriotism, tenacity, and our growth as a nation
are found in this important time in our history.
BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE BI-ANNUAL REENACTMENT EVENT
The battle of Prairie Grove bi-annual reenactment event is one of the larger Living History events held west of the Mississippi. Attracting 200-800 reenacting enthusiasts from across the country every two years to the most intact Civil War battlefield in the region. Held at the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park by the Arkansas State Parks Department it boast numerous lectures, displays, and two large scale battle reenactments over the first weekend in December. The event is attended by thousands of tourists, is insured and bonded by the state, and provides one of the most wide spectrum of Living History activities a student could interact with in this end of the country.
This event is always in need of more volunteers and has always been welcome to students from area high schools and universities coming out to help while working with an established Living History organization. In the Texas/Oklahoma/ Louisiana/Arkansas area the U.S. Territorial Battalion provides this service. A program of the Second Colorado Living History Association (A federally and state recognized nonprofit educational organization) dedicated to providing Living History opportunities for interested students. This year we are once again offering the opportunity to young people to participate in this exciting event with the hope that students will develop an appreciation of history that only comes with hands on experience.
Types of participation– Students ages 16 and up may participate in manner of ways depending on the rules of their institution and the wishes of their parents, they are as follows:
Infantry volunteer: Students who have participated in the drill and rifle familiarization course developed by the National Parks Service for Living History activities may with their parent’s permission participate in the battle upon demonstrating a safe understanding of procedure and drill for the battle reenactment.
Field Music/ Color Guard: Students who are not permitted or do not wish to operate rifles may serve as drummers after a short familiarization course (2 hours or less) given at the event. Students may also serve as standard bearers and carry Regimental and National flags in the reenactments.
Field Hospital Stewards: Students who wish to see representations of Civil War medicine may serve as hospital stewards working with the Field Hospital displays and programs though out the weekend. During battle reenactments the volunteers provide invaluable service of helping with water supply and minding spectator lines to ensure audience members don’t wander into reenactment areas.
Artillery volunteer: Students who have participated in the artillery drill familiarization course developed by the National Parks Service may with their parent’s permission help a working artillery crew in the battle reenactment upon demonstrating a safe understanding of the procedure and drill.
Cook volunteer: Students may serve as cooks and learn the art of camp fire cooking using period tools and foods. Students volunteering in this capacity may be dressed in civilian clothing for the event.
We hope you will consider the opportunity for your students to engage history in very real hands on experience. Participating in Living History has taken more than one student from feigned indifference to a real appreciation for their nations history. By participating in this event your students will be serving the community, commemorating a very vital time in America History, and developing a deeper understanding of historical context. We look forward to hearing from you.
Program Director– Jim Trent
Arkansas Area Contact– Ford Fitch
Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
506 East Douglas
Prairie Grove, AR 72753