This year’s first session of Pioneer Day Camp at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) was a great success! The camp ran July 11-15 for 5- to 8-year-olds. Each day, all participants were able to dress up in costumes that we have here at the museum: dresses, overalls, aprons, bonnets and hats. They loved it!

   The first day, the kids got a tour of the Village. They learned all about “Pioneer Life” as we journeyed from the Semlin to the housebarn, with stops at the schoolhouse, windmill, and Old Colony church.

   “Life in the Village” day involved the kids going to work in the blacksmith shop, and learning about making flour at the windmill. They also got to visit the private school, where they practiced math and writing on slate boards. Each child was able to help make a cup-and-ball game, which is a simple handmade game that was common for pioneer children.

   “Life at Home” day consisted of learning to bake Schnetje biscuits, playing a washboard laundry relay game, helping out with farm chores, and then enjoying our freshly baked Schnetje with strawberry-rhubarb jam in the summer kitchen!

   On “Transportation” day, the children experienced a variety of different transportation modes. Some were old-fashioned, such as the horse-drawn wagon and old fire engine, and some were more modern rides, such as the barrel-train ride! The kids were thrilled to be able to sit on all the old tractors and trucks!

   One of my favorite activities of the week was the creation  of quilt journals. Quilting patterns can represent different meanings or tell a story, and we thought this would be a great way for the kids to reflect on their week and have something to show their parents at the end. Each child was given a large piece of cardstock, divided into sections. Before the end of each day, the kids got time to journal a highlight of their day or something they learned. Some wrote a short line with a drawn picture, while others wrote full paragraphs of all their fun. We used scraps of patterned paper to make quilt-like patches as a flap over their journal sections. We had been taking pictures during the various activities throughout the week, and I got a bunch of those developed so they could be added to the quilt journals to help the kids tell their stories and share their experience.

   I was excited for this activity – but I wasn’t sure if the kids would be as thrilled about it. They LOVED it! It was so neat to see them get excited about writing and piecing together their quilt stories. And by the end of the week, all the patches were complete and they looked amazing!

   On the final day, the kids were able to showcase a craft and share a highlight of their week with the parents. We ended off the day with rides for everyone on the horse-drawn wagon and the barrel train. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful week! And now we look forward to our next Pioneer Day Camp session, to be held the week of August 8-12! This camp is for children ages 9-12. Spaces are still available, so call me at 204-326-9661 to register your child or grandchild.

Calendar of Events

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 9:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

About the Author

Gary is responsible for the overall management of MHV. Guiding the staff, informing the board, and networking with officials, volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors and other guests. He has a business diploma and a MA in Global Studies from Providence Theological Seminary. With his family he did humanitarian work for 18 years in Asia, including being a CEO of a Compost Enterprise in China. He loves to discuss the Mennonite story and how it is relevant in our world. Learn more about the MHV. is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.