The Kids Take on Rutland: Give your kids some independence (Mount Independence)
By Joanna Tebbs Young
Correspondent | September 30,2013
STAFF FILE PHOTO
Sculptures of Revolutionary War soldiers populate the Mount Independence visitors center in Orwell.
If you're anything like me, you love to watch your kids running free, exerting their spirited energy outside, fresh air in their lungs, and a found treasure — a rock, a stick, a frog — clenched in their hands. This is especially true when you are in the country or woods and know they are completely safe (that is until a tree root jumps out and sends them — and the tears — flying).
When my kids were very little and we'd take family walks burdened by a baby backpack or cumbersome jogger stroller, I longed for the day when they could run on ahead, free and independent of me. I wanted this for me, yes (because you know as well as I do, those backpacks are flippin' hot and uncomfortable, and mushed banana-fingers do have a habit of finding their way into your hair) but more than that, I wanted it for them.
One place I can give them this gift (now that they have been running on without me for a number of years, whether I want them to or not) is Mount Independence Historical Site in Orwell. It is an hour's drive from Rutland, but well worth it. Go for the picnic tables, go for the view of Champlain Valley or Fort Ticonderoga across the lake, go for the history. It doesn't matter — just go.
The weekend we went, there was a re-enactment going on. Because there was never actually a battle fought at this location the re-enactment was exactly as exciting — or deadly — as one at, say Fort Ti or Hubbardton Battlefield. Men in Revolutionary costume, both British and “American” (they were all technically British at that time the lone, and very handsome, Redcoat told us), were chatting under tents, cooking over fires, and cleaning their rifles. Much to my kids' excitement (and my little niece's chagrin) they also demonstrated the preparation and (very loud) firing of a cannon.
Then they got to run. While they ran along well-maintained hiking paths, my husband and I read the historical markers and tried to imagine the buildings that once stood upon the stone foundations along the way. The trail we chose was the shortest of four routes which range from .2 to 2.2 miles.
Before we left, we stopped into the museum. Despite its small size, it is impressive. Archeological artifacts dug from the site and risen from the lake, such as bullets and cannons, pottery, forks and cufflinks, even a captain's journal, are displayed. But the kids were most fascinated by the giant story-telling Revolutionary soldiers. (For real, they talk — through some kind of computer magic).
Speaking of computers, the next stop was a bank of them, where interactive sites tell the story of the “Northern Campaign.” From there, the kids found the final section, designed especially for kids with a box of 18th-century dress-up clothes and children's games.
The Kids' Take
T, age 7:
His favorite part: Watching and hearing the cannon get fired off (but remember, that's not always there).
He learned: “You have to clean the cannon really well or your arm will get blown off.”
H, age 10½:
Her favorite part: Dressing up.
She learned: That people were shorter back then (“Daddy would be a giant!”) and that “they all had to squish in one tiny tent.”
A, age 5½:
Her favorite part: Dressing up.
She learned: “I don't know. I have to think about it.”
So, don't waste another weekend! Get ye to Mount Independence. (No, really, hurry. They close for the season Oct. 14.)
Taking it in
Mount Independence State Historic Site 497 Mount Independence Road Orwell, Vermont 05760
May 25 — Oct. 14 Open daily, 9:30 a.m. — 5 p.m.
Joanna Tebbs Young is a writing and creativity facilitator and wellness presenter. AllenHouseVermont.com. @jtebbsyoung. firstname.lastname@example.org