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Rendezvous reenactors take children on a walk through history

Students learn about life in the past during Education Days

Over 1,000 students from all across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa gathered at Bancroft Bay Park Thursday for the Big Island Rendezvous Education Days.

Students went around the entire park learning many old-fashioned skills and diving into the stories of some of history’s most important figures, learning things such as how to pan for gold, hatchet throwing, the history of pirates, use of weaponry and much more. The children had a day packed full of activities.

Lee Williams, an Abraham Lincoln reenactor for over 25 years and first-timer at the Rendezvous, said his aim is to teach the students about Lincoln and his overall character. He tells Lincoln’s life stories in hopes of teaching the children perseverance, integrity, honesty, humility, compassion and patriotism.

“I think those are things that we need in our culture, we need it in our nation,” Williams said. “We need it from day one clear up to us older folks. We need those aspects of character and this is a fun way to teach them. It’s a great experience for the kids. It takes history out of the textbook into a life.”

Aside from famous historical figures, students also heard from reenactors demonstrating the average lives of people throughout history.

Pam Moeller, a retired teacher and 12-year Rendezvous reenactor, said she and her husband set up a teepee and spend five days on site, living exactly the way the people they are portraying would.

Moeller and her husband portray the lives of Native American storytellers and have the students gather under her tent to listen to her stories. She said she always has at least a few students from each group show a lot of interest in her stories. However, everyone is always excited about the annual favorite, the firing of the cannon.

Above everything else, Moeller said she wants the children to see and experience what history was like.

“I’m a retired teacher,” Moeller said. “I love to see them just light up and appreciate what they’re doing. They have so much enthusiasm and that’s so great. I hope kids get to do this. I taught in a school where we didn’t have enough money to bring the kids up to this. Now, I see schools from Owatonna and Faribault, all over, and I think that’s fantastic.”

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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