07/24/11 — Camp Liberty wraps up week of teaching about U.S. founding

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Camp Liberty wraps up week of teaching about U.S. founding

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

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Zoe McKinney, 8, says the Pledge of Allegiance during the Camp Liberty closing celebration Saturday. The weeklong camp taught kids about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the influence faith had on the foundation of the United States. The camp was put on by the Citizens for Constitutional Liberties.

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Hailey Smith, 4, sings "This Land is Your Land" while waving a flag during the Camp Liberty closing celebration.

At first glance, the group of children rehearsing for a program at Victory Free Will Baptist Church late Saturday morning could have been part of a Vacation Bible School class.

Except it was an all-patriotic agenda.

"Camp Liberty," a weeklong seminar on the founding of America, catered to all ages, culminating in an assembly in the church sanctuary. It was sponsored by Citizens for Constitutional Liberties, affiliated with the Wayne County Tea Party, but it was not a "tea party" event, said organizer Linda Harper.

"It's an educational event," she explained. "Anybody that lives in the community or the United States needs to know about the Constitution."

Sue Bergman, one of the teachers for the week, readied the children's group -- kindergarten through eighth grade -- for the performance of what they had learned.

She handed them the words to three songs they would be singing -- "You're A Grand Old Flag," "This Is My Country" and "This Land is Your Land."

"Make sure you have them in the right order. If you're singing a different song than on the CD, that will be embarrassing," she cautioned.

She summoned three of the older girls up to practice their selection, "The Star-Spangled Banner," a cappella. Zoe McKinney, Jessica Poirier and Gabrielle Holzkamm's rendition went off without a hitch.

The boys and girls had spent much time over the previous four nights of the seminar learning the Pledge of Allegiance, memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution and being taught about the early days of American government.

Each child waved a small flag during practice, but were told there were a few larger flags that would be carried as they entered the sanctuary.

"One person of each class will carry the big flags," explained Ms. Bergman. "Just like we vote for our representatives for our state government and our national government, we're going to vote for the students who best represent the class."

Julie Holzkamm had worked with the youngest group of students. Hailey Smith, 4, was the only one, though, who showed up on Saturday.

"Three of mine aren't here because they went on vacation," Ms. Holzkamm said.

She said it had been a worthwhile event.

"It's been great. We have really enjoyed it," she said. "My other daughter came in, too, to help so that I could go and hear some of the talks.

"The talks are great. It's been nice every night ... Me and the kids loved it."

Ms. Harper estimated that about 70 had attended during the week, which featured such speakers as N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, Drs. Michael Sanera and Troy Kickler of the John Locke Foundation, and attorneys KrisAnne Hall and Bob Skiver of the Liberty and Law Institute.

"Each night we had someone do a three-to-five-minute character lesson stressing some of the characteristics some of our founding fathers had that helped form this government that we had," Ms. Harper said.

The younger participants also engaged in a variety of activities -- from George Washington's cherry tree represented by red-colored popcorn, to upper grades taking part in a mock Senate session.

"I didn't know that the Pilgrims came here to worship God the way they wanted and to be free because in England there was a church that if you didn't go to that church, you would get killed," said David Sarda, 8.

He also learned a bit about taxes, he said.

"One hundred years after the Pilgrims went to America, they were just doing so much taxes and all the people were getting very mad and one of the things that they did was throw the tea over the boats, they dressed like Indians."

Jessica admitted she hadn't known what to expect when she showed up.

"I didn't know that I was going to like it but when I came, I liked it a lot," the 10-year-old said. "We talked about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and a lot of different documents and papers, and we have done a lot of activities."

Gabrielle, also 10, was also pleasantly surprised.

"I really like it that we got to talk about how our country was founded, the characteristics of the founding fathers and how the Constitution was made and about the articles of the Confederation," she said. "I like learning about the Bill of Rights and the amendments. It's just been a really fun week. I'm glad I came."