News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2007

Melinda Dunn, center, and her teen volunteers teach Decatur history to students at the Old State Bank building June 10.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Melinda Dunn, center, and her teen volunteers teach Decatur history to students at the Old State Bank building June 10.

Old State Bank camp studies Decatur

By Emily Peck 340-2408

"We're about to travel back to a place with no Point Mallard, Burger King or video games," says Melinda Dunn.

A group of wide-eyed children gasp, startled by this information.

They are at Old State Bank in Decatur to participate in the summer program "Past Times."

Dunn, director of the bank, calls it a "neat way" to make history fun. On Tuesdays in July, she teaches children about Rhodes Ferry, Stephen Decatur and Civil War history using hands-on learning activities.

Dunn isn't the only one who enjoys the past.

"History is one of my favorite things," said parent Matona Moebes.

Her children Barrett, 9, Grace, 8, and John, 5, attend the session on "Frontier Days."

Moebes hopes the program will encourage them to share in her love of history.

Jon Cimino, a 9-year-old participant, begins his day by creating an animated toy. He draws a caged bird on a circular piece of paper and then spins the contraption around on string.

"I'm here to have fun," said Cimino. "But I also want to learn."

He joins the children on the bank floor for their trip back in time.

After imagining a world where stick games replace Nintendo Wii consoles, the group prepares for "frontier" activities. Children craft wooden cup-and-ball toys and play pioneer games such as pingpong. To prepare for winter, they make candles and tin punches that form a lantern. Campers also practice their bank teller skills by writing with feather quill pens.

Dunn says she hopes the camp will give children a better understanding of Decatur's history.

"When they go back to class, I hope they will be able to identify with history," says Dunn. "They can look at kids in the past and realize that they aren't so different. The things kids enjoy in life haven't changed, just the way we go about getting them."

Dunn credits the camp's success to her teenage volunteers. Davy Vest, 13, Miranda Thompson, 14, Hannah Plemmons, 15, Caroline Dunn, 14, and Anna Claire Woodall, 14, all work at the camp.

"The kids think its OK to be excited about history if they see teenagers having fun with it," said Dunn.

During today's session, children will journey back to the civil war. Activities include making a Jacob's Ladder and a quilt box like those used on the underground railroad.

This is the fourth year the camp has run in its current format.

Fall activities

The bank will host a mini camp this fall during school break.

For more information, call the Old State Bank at 350-5060.

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