Weather Forecast


Dakota City camps send kids back in time

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean all Dakota County kids want to stop learning about history.

There are plenty of kids who will gladly put down their iPads and turn off their smartphones, just so they can learn how to not use technology every day.

Dakota City Heritage Village’s two summer camps, Apprentice Camp and Teen Volunteer Camp, are filling up quickly.

The Apprentice Camps will be held June 23-26, and July 21-24. Those camps are open to kids ages 6-12, Dakota City education director Alisa Peterson said.

“The camp is for those kids who are interested in going back in time and spending some days in the village as pioneer children used to,” Peterson said. “They’ll be learning what life was like in 1900 rural Minnesota.”

Peterson tries to change up the activities and curriculum from year to year.

This year, for example, kids will spend some of their time at the fire hall, learning about how the area’s early settlers fought fires, why there were so many fires back then, and why those fires often completely destroyed buildings. In years past, students focused on life in the farm house, learning about gardening, doing chores and preserving foods.

And while past years’ curriculum has centered around things those early settlers did not have, this year Peterson plans to talk about the things they did have.

“Electricity was around back then, but it wasn’t common, so we’ll look at what they did use electricity for and how it was used. And cameras. That was when the Kodak Brownie camera came out, and it kind of opened up the photography era. That was a huge invention back in the 1900s,” she said.

The curriculum for the Teen Volunteer Camp will follow that of the Apprentice Camp, although it will be more in-depth, Peterson said.

Teens are able to comprehend and process information more than younger kids, so the content of that session is filled with more details and includes more hands-on activity.

The Teen Volunteer Camp is an extension of the Apprentice Camp, Peterson said. And since it is open to kids 12 and older, the camp is also geared toward training those students so they can become a knowledgeable volunteer at Dakota City.

“We’re trying to teach them skills and information that they can use if they want to come back and be a volunteer here,” Peterson said.

The goal is to make the teens comfortable enough with the content so they will be able to talk and interact with building visitors. In the past, when some teen volunteers have gotten bored, they’ve pulled out their phones and started to text. That’s something Peterson would like to end.

Peterson usually gets four to six students who come back to volunteer during the Dakota County Fair or other village events.

Registration for the first Apprentice Camp and the Teen Volunteer Camp is due by June 9. There are two openings left in the Teen Volunteer Camp for this year, so Peterson encourages interested youth to sign up soon. Registration for the second Apprentice Camp is due by July 7.

The camps are open to students throughout Dakota County, but registration must be done through Farmington’s community education program. The website is Parents should follow the instructions on the page to register for either camp.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

(651) 702-0974