Participants in the three-day pioneer challenge were exposed to a variety of activities, including (from top): Young Aden Schmidt touches a snake under the watchful eye of survivalist Jim Truax of Peabody; Aiden gives Abram Schmidt a drink from a ladle; and Amber Schmidt operates the wheat grinder with Mary Beth Bowers looking on.
Homeschool students Amber Schmidt, 11, who lives near Marion Reservoir, and Abigail Engler, 14, of Harlingen, Texas, organized a three-day pioneer challenge for Oct. 3-6.
The girls hatched the idea six months ago and have been working together on the planning and research long distance ever since. They set the event in part to celebrate Abigail’s 14th birthday. Participants all dressed in period costumes.
The event started with a wagon train. John Yoder of Buhler provided a wagon pulled by Percherons.
Jim Truax of Peabody acted as a survival guide on the wagon train, taught the children to make survival bracelets, set up a proper camp fire and camping site, and then returned Friday for a two-hour survival class.
Greg Engler of Salina shared pictures, bird songs and facts about native Kansas birds the pioneers would have seen and that still live today.
Mary Beth Bowers of Marion provided a hands-on demonstration on shelling and grinding corn, and making cornbread from scratch over the campfire.
The kids also enjoyed a sing-along around the campfire, experienced hard tack, pioneer games, a one-room schoolhouse, making dip candles and helping with the camping and cooking.
Don Mashbur, who lives near Marion Reservoir, came Friday afternoon to present the circuit rider’s story and the life of Native American missionaries.
Angela Ciero of Marion completed the presentations with a talk about native plants and herbs available for medicinal and culinary uses.
The event concluded Saturday night with participants attending a victorian masquerade ball sponsored by Emma Chase Cafe in Cottonwood Falls.