Andrew Byrne dressed up as George Washington on Aug. 8 for "Patriot Camp" hosted at Fort Atkinson. Pictured, he works on his daily craft which focused on weaving from early American history.

King Jared Pyle and his British soldier Caroline Crowe couldn't keep colonists Christina Bach and Linden Barrow down. Christina and Linden were going to stand up for their right to question power.

Now, Jared isn't really a king, nor is Caroline a soldier. And Christina and Linden aren't really from the 18th century. The four kids put on their role-playing hats Thursday for a short play aimed at demonstrating the importance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The play was one part of the four days of the third Patriot Camp held Aug. 6 through Friday at Fort Atkinson. Patriot Camps are held across the U.S. as an interactive way to teach children ages 7 to 12 about America's beginnings and how its government was decided to operate. The camp at Fort Atkinson also had an early learners group for children ages 4 to 6.

"It's all about our founding fathers and how they went about organizing our country," camp organizer and Washington County resident Cheri Klauzer said. "You go over the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It's all put off for the grade school kids in a way that they can understand it."


From left: Chrsitina Bach, Linden Barrow, Caroline Crowe and Jared Pyle participate in a short play at "Patriot Camp" hosted at Fort Atkinson from Aug. 6 to 9. The kids role-played colonists, a British soldier and a king as way to demonsrate that criticism of those in leadership positions is protected by the Constitution.

Fred Klauzer, Cheri's husband and camp co-organizer, said 46 kids from Washington County, Omaha, Papillion and Elkhorn attended this year's camp. About 80 campers attended last year, but the camp was held later than usual this year, Cheri said, so it impacted attendance.

"We had some people that couldn’t come because schools were starting," she said.

"This might be a warm up for kids for school," Fred added.

Each day of the four-day camp focused on a particular topic with campers rotating through five different stations, singing songs like "Yankee Doodle" as they go.

"We give them tootsie rolls for singing," Cheri said.

The stations were taught by a dozen youth leaders and about 10 adult volunteers. Three stations focused on teaching about the day's theme, while two others offered kids a chance to complete period crafts and play games. Early learners campers stayed at their one station for the day, but learned the same information as their older peers.

On Aug. 6, campers learned about the revolutionary war. The Declaration of Independence was the topic Wednesday, while Thursday was all about the Constitution. Friday, the last day of camp, was about "our republic" with campers learning the difference between a democracy and a republic.

The Klauzers began Fort Atkinson's version of Patriot Camp a few years ago after taking their son to one of the camps in Colorado.

"The guy there said, 'You need to put it on in Nebraska,'" Cheri said. "We had done it so many times there that it wasn't quite as hard (to start) as it would have been."

Fort Calhoun resident Amy Wemhoff said the interactivity of the camp is a great way for her son, Wyatt, to learn about America's founding.

"(It can help him) be a better citizen and to learn and understand the Constitution of the United States," she said.


Cara Caruso and Wyatt Wemhoff play a duck, duck, goose inspired game of patriot, patriot, redcoat with the early learners group at "Patriot Camp" hosted at Fort Atkinson Aug. 6 to 9.

Campers participated in multiple interactive activities each day, which related to the topics they learned. Cheri said the kids signed their own Declaration before shooting off "fireworks" — the packing material from Amazon packages.

"They stamp on (the packing), and then it goes 'bang,'" Cheri said. "The other day we learned about George Washington crossing the Delaware. They had to take off their shoes and socks and walk across a pool of ice water to see what that was like. They get to do a Boston Tea Party where they take little packets and throw them out of the boat."

At Thursday's role-playing station, campers were reminded of what the founding fathers wrote a good government should be in the Declaration before learning that those ideas were included into the Constitution and specified further with the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments made to the Constitution by the Constitutional Congress in 1791.

Kids also heard from various historical figures and founders of America to start the day. On Thursday, the kids heard from Benjamin Franklin.

"This week, we've heard from Paul Revere," said Fred, who interpreted Benjamin Franklin on Thursday. "We've heard from John Hancock, and Emily Geiger today, and tomorrow George Washington."

"It's all fun ways for kids to learn about the history of our country," Cheri said.

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