Last year we, of Earl Rivers’ regiment, celebrated our 40th anniversary. Like an established family we partied, settling down to chat about memories and fondly pass around old photos. As those photo’s passed around smiling faces caught in the light that glowed from our dying BBQ depicted grown up images of the children that had built memories with their games, captured in photo so many years ago. As well as the expected snaps of re-enacted battles, one consistent feature was that of happy children.
Many of those who laughed about the past are parents themselves, bringing their children to the Sealed Knot because of the friendship and freedom that they themselves grew up with.
From the moment a family pulls up at one of our campsites the children are eagerly looking out at their friends who are already waiting to take them off in a game. Though they could safely occupy themselves chasing and pretending together until they snuggle into sleeping bags there are many more experiences available to them.
Who needs a computer when you can dress up and march almost into battle, feeling the thrill of the drums beating time as the soldiers make their way to battle. Maybe during the day they have wielded a mini pike or dummy musket. Perhaps they are being taught to drum. When the battle are taking place they can cheer for dad knowing that one day they will get their turn to march into the battle arena but they could also watch the woodworker and, under expert supervision, see what it feels like to see a piece of wood become a peg. Don’t forget the hot days, yes hot days when someone brings out a paddling pool. All this can make a little belly very hungry so as well as the BBQ’s there is often strange old fashioned food to eat. Nothing like sitting round a smokey fire pit watching mum heat griddle cakes to make you hungry, hungry enough to try anything! It doesn’t matter if you use fingers or drop food. During the running about hours those same fingers could have learnt how to use a lucette to make a cord, or scattered corn at a seventeenth century wedding, or maybe even served food at a grand table when acting a living history role.
When some return to school they might be asked to write about what they did at the weekend. Our kids can write. Try stopping them chattering as they write and draw pictures of castles they have seen, the friends they have made and the many things they have done. Such impressions are what stay with our kids and keep them coming back. The camera never lies.