Independence And Providence 

But by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me. – George Washington

Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle and after all could not bring him to the ground – A Native American fighting Washington in the French and Indian War

Our last day in Williamsburg started off a bit slower and (sigh) baconless. I guess the hotel learned their lesson. We bussed over to Yorktown where we learned the French really can fight! They still had a sour taste in their mouths after losing most of their New World claims in the French and Indian War, so they supported the cause of American independence and, in so doing, insured that they would not be speaking German in the 21st century. The French may have waited until momentum was on the side of the colonialists to commit soldiers, but for most of the war they supplied the Continental Army with everything from munitions to uniforms.

Yorktown was the battle that truly secured our freedom and put an end to the war, so we were thrilled to be able to tour this site with the insight of a Park Ranger who held every student’s attention. She told us how Washington made the British think he was going to attack New York and then, in the heat of summer, marched his men 450 miles south in less than six weeks to surprise General Cornwallis who was now blocked by Washington on land and the French navy by sea. It was clear to the students that to lead an army, you not only have to be brave, wise and hardworking, but excel in math, science and history as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After touring the battle site, we went to the Yorktown Victory Center to see what life on and off the battle field would have looked like. Life as a family in the colonies will shame the hardest working among us. Only the coldest parts of the year, when everyone is snowed into a one or two room house for weeks on end, would there be any rest. We watched as historians dressing the parts walked us through planting farms, making dinner, patching clothes and more. Some of our boys took a special interest in hauling water to do laundry so don’t be afraid to show them the washing machine when they come home.

When war broke out, though, families had some hard decisions to make. Does the husband go fight? If so, for which side? Do the wife and children remain at home or join the husband at camp? Park historians showed us what the life of a soldier would have demanded. The camp was cramped and smelly, the food was meager and more soldiers died from disease than gunshots. The students were shown their tight quarters (6 to a small tent), where food was prepared, how the injured were tended to, how troop movements were organized and even how secret codes were sent between troops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One soldier demonstrated how a real musket fires and the origin of the phrase ‘half-cocked.’ We learned that rifles had been in use for some time by the outbreak of the war, but muskets were chosen for our armies because, despite being much less accurate, they could reload in a fraction of the time and send out three times as much lead. The kids had fun trying to shoulder this musket, but proved the British would have been in no danger:)

We talked about how hard it is to imagine a war in our own backyard raging twice as long as American involvement in WWII, the cost paid on all sides of the Atlantic or Americans, French, Native Americans and Africans all storming Yorktown armed side by side. But even more astounding are all the very little things God alone can control that came together to insure an American victory. The storm that protected Washington in Boston. The fog that protected Washington’s retreat in Long Island. The storm that prevented General Cornwallis from retreating at Yorktown. The bullets that simply could not hit Washington. As you retrace the steps of the American Revolution, you can’t kick the feeling that God wanted this country to form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids spent the end of the day back in Colonial Williamsburg seeing some more of the old town, getting muddy in the brick making building and spending whatever money they had left on trinkets they won’t care anything about in a week. But, we did create great memories!

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Patriots and Patrons

If this be treason, make the most of it – Patrick Henry making his case for independence in Colonial Williamsburg

We traveled forward about 150 years from the Jamestown settlement today to tour Colonial Williamsburg, the capitol of Virginia from 1676-1780, named after King William. Thanks to money from John D. Rockefeller, the entire colonial center from this era has been perfectly restored and staffed. The students, dawned with breeches and doublets, were able to visit the blacksmith, printers, silversmith, gaol (jail), the House of Burgesses, the old governors palace, and many other 18th century businesses. We got a glimpse of what trial without representation looked like and we were, once again, thankful for 21st century America.

Our tour guide taught us all the manners expected of the day including how to bow, curtsy and where to the find the ‘necessary’ when necessary. We visited a wig store for those willing to spend a month’s salary on dark hair for the day and another month’s salary on gray hair for the evening. The students were proud to have learned that George Washington resisted the style of the day and wore his own hair. That’s the kind of first president that you want!

The staff in this town are much more than actors. They are historians who can knowledgeably answer any questions the students have. When explaining that we are from Florida, one colonialist responded, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Florida.” We all had fun dressing up in the garb of the time, but one of our parent chaperones, Warren Dietel, gets the best colonial dress award. He was actually stopped multiple times by inquisitive tourists who thought he was part of the show.

We were able to attend a noon day prayer service at the 300 year old Burton Parish Church. The names of the dignitaries who frequented the old church were written on the pews and in the center was a large, throne like chair reserved for the sitting governor of Virginia. You can imagine the self-control the students had to muster up to leave that chair alone! Speaking of self-control, we are so proud of these students. Almost everywhere we go we are complimented on how well-mannered, inquisitive and engaged they are.

If you ask your kids what their favorite part of colonial Williamsburg is, you will likely hear, “Anything with A/C!” Yes, it was hot, but that is all part of the experience 🙂  The boys shed all they could, but the women, well, not so lucky. Fortunately, it did cool down around dinner and then…off to the dance.

The students went to a colonial ball in the Capitol Building and it began just as awkwardly as you would imagine. They were paired up and taught three English dances and one French dance. The students did beautifully, though, and gave you the impression they might even enjoy it.

by Jim Davis, patent blogger

Sailing, Settling, Starving And Surviving

Field trip
noun
1. a trip made by students or research workers to study something first hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No time wasted on this trip! We ‘slept in’ until 6:45 and then down to breakfast in the hotel. Today is our visit to historic Jamestown. Jamestown is the oldest permanent English settlement in the New World preceded only by the English ‘lost colony’ at Roanoke and, of course, the Spanish settlements including St. Augustine.

Thanks to the expert knowledge of the National Park Service, we quickly learned that life on the settlement was more difficult than Disney’s Pocahontas movie would have you believe. This settlement was owned and established by the Virginia Company of England in 1607 for the sole purpose of finding gold and making a profit. The Virginia Company might have done well to ask themselves why it is that neither the Spanish (who had been in the New World now for over a century) nor the Native Americans had any interest in this location. Could it be that the Jamestown settlement contained no gold or fresh drinking water and was surrounded by inhospitable natives?

After losing about 80% of the settlers to starvation and Indians, resorting to cannibalism and unsuccessfully trying to sail back to England, the settlement was finally saved by the introduction of tobacco which could be grown in the fertile soil of Virginia and sold back in London. A far cry from gold, but the snuff came through. Women were then introduced to the settlement after 15 years (now John Rolfe’s marriage to Pocahontas is coming into focus:) and the road was paved for this single settlement to become 13 original colonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then toured a live archeological site that is literally changing history. The archeologist showed us a Spanish gold ring mounted with a large gem they just uncovered from about 1600 along with a some Spanish beads from about 1550. So, how did jewelry from the enemy make its way into a British settlement? The running theory is that the Spaniards in St. Augustine traded these items with Native Americans and these items worked their way through the Native American trading routes ultimately finding their way to Jamestown. It was clear to all the students that they would need every subject in school to participate in digs like this.

Who knew glass could be so interesting? We watched a live reenactment of a typical 1600’s glass blowing. The clay oven had to be 2400 degrees Fahrenheit which required such huge quantities of wood that the settlers could only make glass about four days each month. So, what did the settlers make? Everything from vases to glasses designed specifically for tavern drinking games.

In Jamestown, three very different peoples from opposite ends of the Atlantic collided. The Native American Powhatton tribe (Pocahontas’ people), the West African slaves and the British settlers comprised a tense cultural triad that is on display in an exact replica of both the settlement and Powhatton village complete with live actors describing life here in the early 1600’s.

How does 140 days crammed into quarters not much larger than a couple classrooms sound? That is a picture of the voyage to the New World. It could have been faster, but the British did not know a direct way to Jamestown so they had to follow the well established Spanish routes which took them down to Africa, over to the southern Caribbean islands and then north to the Virginia settlement. We boarded a perfect replica of these ships docked in the harbor and learned about life on the sea from live sailors. All of your children should return home with a new appreciation for their bedrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day ended with a devotion in Psalm 32 and Psalm 18. Life as a settler was precarious to say the least. The Bible tells us, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Our hope is that after today the students can see this verse through a different set of eyes.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

War and Peace, the colonial version

On our final touring day of the trip, we visited one of the most significant sites, Yorktown. As any Geneva 5th grader could tell you, October 19, 1781 marks the end of the Revolutionary War, despite the Treaty of Paris not being signed until 1783. Today we got to experience life in camp as a soldier and to walk the actual battlefield where our nation’s freedom was won.

We learned that the space on our bus isn’t nearly as cramped as the space in a Private’s tent, and that sharing a bed with one friend is substantially better than sharing a tent with five. The students were both entertained and a bit horrified to learn how medical care worked for a colonial soldier. Any soldier labeled as “sloven” could be forced to wear a sign around his neck as punishment. Be sure to ask your student about that, and maybe prepare your own sign as motivation.

Our courage was tested during a weapons demonstration, and most of us freely admitted that the site of a hundred armed soldiers aiming their guns at us would cause us to turn and run without even a shot being fired. The courage of the colonial soldier in the face of overwhelming odds was truly remarkable.

While the battlefield at Yorktown may not have all the bells and whistles that some of our other stops did, the import of what happened there cannot be overstated. Seeing the lush green field, the tall trees, the remnants of revolutionary trenches, it’s hard to imagine that this same field would have been marked with rubble, bodies, and the terror of war as our country fought for her independence.

As we all lined up for a group picture in front of the Yorktown monument, I was especially struck by what a great group of students we have. Our students are learning not just the dates of the history of our country, but the foundation of our nation’s identity. They will have the opportunity to advance the cause of freedom because of the generations that have preceded them.

It was a pleasure to meander around Colonial Williamsburg one last time this afternoon. I watched as students carefully selected gifts for family members back home, or as mementos for themselves. I was privileged to be present as a student faced her fears and sat down at a replica of an ancient harpsichord and played. I witnessed polite and respectful students ordering a meal in a colonial tavern, graciously thanking their hosts, and engaging in lively conversation with their peers and chaperones around the dinner table. They were each eager to share their experiences, and re-tell many of the things they learned in this week.

It has not been a week free of difficult situations, but our students have persevered. Our devotions for the evening focused on love. Not the love that is warm and fuzzy, rainbows and unicorns. The love that is patient, and kind; a love that bears all things. We discussed ways that we have been shown love by others this week and ways that we can show love to others tomorrow on the long bus ride home. I am confident that our students will rise to the occasion tomorrow and will return to you with stories of love shown even on a sixteen hour bus trip home.

We look forward to seeing you all Saturday night!

Living Life like a Colonial

Today, in many ways, was the highpoint of our week. Today was the day when we got all dressed up in our colonial costumes and explored Williamsburg as if we were colonial residents back in the 18th century.

Throughout the course of the day, we got to imagine what our lives would be like in a myriad of different situations. We heard snippets of speeches from the House of Burgesses session in which the colonists voted for independence. We put ourselves in the shoes of a woman on trial for murder (or was it self defense?), and wondered what it would have been like to not be able to afford representation, and to have a jury that was more swayed by their physical discomfort in a room without heat or bathroom facilities than by the weight of the evidence.

We crowded into the old gaol (jail) cell and imagined what it might be like to have to spend time there – particularly if Black Beard the Pirate’s gang was sharing the space with us. In a radical shift of social cultures, we then walked through the Governor’s Palace and imagined our lives if we had been in the upper 5% of income levels in colonial Williamsburg. It should come as no surprise that the students would happily choose life in the ornate Governor’s Palace over the old gaol cell.

Our tour guide remarked that she had rarely seen a group of students so intent on what was being said, so eager to ask good questions, and so invested in the experience.

For most of the folks in colonial Williamsburg, life was neither in the jail or in the Governor’s Palace, but lived in very everyday ways as they plied their trade in a variety of occupations. We contemplated what life would be like if we were apprenticed in an apothecary shop, or as a silversmith. Many of the students were struck by the limited opportunities available to women in colonial times, and how different their lives would have been as a result. We met doctors, Cherokee Indians, saw Colonel Washington, watched cloth being woven, shoes being repaired, and dresses being made. Some of us sampled colonial libations (of coffee, tea, and chocolate) and in so doing met, Ann, a slave. Over half of the population in Williamsburg at the time would have been enslaved persons. It was an interesting opportunity for the students to reflect on the value of human beings as image bearers of God.

But colonial life was not all about work, and neither was our day. We enjoyed a rousing relay of hoop races, and just running in the green space. It was so fun to see the students enjoying the opportunity to play together.

As it was our regular chapel day, we had the opportunity to participate in the noonday prayer service at Bruton Parish Church. The students were delighted to read the names on the pew boxes of dozens of famous colonial families, and to imagine attending a service when dignitaries such as George Washington might have been present.

We had dinner in a colonial tavern and even enjoyed some live music. We ended our evening with a ball in the capitol building. Yes, your child danced! Sadly, no photos were permitted, though some of the students might be grateful for that. But I can assure you that there were smiles a plenty as they learned the steps and found they could do more than they thought.

It was a full day, a bit of an overwhelming day. We prayed for dry weather after yesterday’s drenching, and God was very gracious to us in providing an almost entirely dry day. We were fully immersed in the life of a colonial and the students were filled with wonder and questions and amazement.

In our devotions for the day, we reflected on how the colonists placed great value on excellence, order, and beauty. The students remarked on the extreme care and pride with which the tradespeople worked. The end of the day was a fabulous opportunity to reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The students were able to think about how they saw that verse at work today, and how they see it at work in their own lives. Our students are not just on an entertaining trip, though they are having a great deal of fun. It’s not just an educational trip, though they are learning an immense amount. They are thinking about the bigger issues of life as they reflect on life in the 18th century as compared to life in the 21st century. May those thoughts continue to shape their lives far beyond this trip.

by Michelle Keller, parent blogger

The Geneva School
The Geneva School
July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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