I asked my summer assistants, who that day consisted of two boys and two girls, ages five to eight. And here’s what I got, verbatim: There’s gonna be fireworks. You can have a picnic and some parties. And you can go to the beach. You can spend time at your house and not in school. Watching the fireworks. Putting up decorations for parties and picnics. Make a cake! Fireflies! Summer camp! Big fireworks!
Clearly July is a time to celebrate, and something really worth celebrating, too – the U-S of A! I love seeing red, white, and blue décor appear in the stores in early May and stay around all the way through July these days. Not just for a holiday or two anymore, we love to show pride for our nation year-round, and RVA is a great place to learn all about our country’s history. A friend recently asked me if I knew of any history summer camps for her daughter, a third-grade history buff. “We live in Richmond – make your own history camp!” was my quick response (possibly not the answer she was looking for with a busy work schedule, but anyway…).
My RVA history summer camp would include, but is certainly not limited to: a visit to The Valentine, now free for active duty military and children under eighteen. Recently renovated from top to bottom, families can explore Richmond’s history, and then stay for a delicious Sally Bell’s boxed lunch in the garden. Talk to the kids ahead of time about what they can expect to see, and then using the Valentine’s website, ask each child to make a short list of objects to look for, and turn the visit into a scavenger hunt. There are lots of other sites near the Valentine to explore, too, including the Museum of the Confederacy, the John Marshall House, and the Virginia State Capitol.
If your kid isn’t into museums, there are some great ways to explore our history on foot, too. The Valentine offers daily tours of City Center and Hollywood Cemetery and other themed tours. Then there’s Richmond Liberty Trail, a walking route that connects many of downtown Richmond’s historic sites, attractions, and neighborhoods, including fifteen national historic landmarks. This 6.2 mile (10k) trail is marked with a logo painted on the sidewalk. It is a self-guided, continuous loop intended for visitors and residents who want to experience portions of Richmond’s history on foot and at their own pace.
Also, be sure to head over to Virginia Historical Society, free and open during their expansive renovation. Their Stories at the Museum series continues this month on Saturday, July 18, with a group reading of a history picture book about the American Revolution and a make-and-take craft connected to the book.
That’s just the tip of the RVA history iceberg, and you’ll find much more on our calendar (starting on page forty-six) and in this month’s Reaching Out on page twenty-eight, so take some time this summer to explore our town – after you explore this issue of RFM, of course!