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Back To Basics Summer by Donna Godfrey

I wanted my 13 year old son to learn and enjoy American skills......I was raised as a Mennonite and my grandparents were Amish and so I was taught many skills. My concern was that many kids have no idea how to do so many important tasks. We lived in apartments for several years and I was sorry to see so many kids did not really know about a farm....they knew what a cow was but never saw a cow milked. They all had fire places in the apartments but no idea how to cut season it much less know what a cord was. They were clueless about planting,growing and harvesting fruit and vegetables and had no idea you could can them.

These are just a few things that made me want to work with him on basics....

We decided to take some field trips here in Georgia....we decided to go to John's Mill at Talking Rock. It is a working mill and John and I had been there before and fell in love with it! So I taught him about mills how they provided energy and did tasks.This mill was falling apart and a man that was an engineer in DC gave up the fast life and moved to restore it and live there. It is quite a story but that is all I will say.

This summer we had the computer and so we had fun looking up mills. Here are a few pages to use

Mill Restoration Principles ...wonderful pictures and drawings.

History of flour mills

A Miller's Tale, A Day in the Life of a Miller

We went and talked with the owner, got some ground flour and corn, and had fun!

Another day my son and I made cornbread and bread...what a lesson, and by the time we were making bread I had 3 more boys helping...saying "we didn't know one could bake it at home."

One week we did cooking...I loved this and so did my son. We built a solar oven from a pizza box and did this hot dog cooker. If I am correct we had about 6 that helped with this.

We went and picked green beans and canned them. Than we did pears and had several help us. I made this fun like my grandma did for me...we told stories and told jokes.

We did a knot week.

I do believe we had the house in knots...fishing knots, macrame, camping knots and String Figures.

Animated Knots for Scouts

We got him a tent and they learned to use knots there and that led us to camp cooking. The boys chose to use this site to learn about building a fire.

Than they made this Foil Dinner Meatballs
Heavy duty foil
Frozen meatballs
Canned potatoes
Cream of chicken soup

Place several meatballs on foil, add some potatoes (you may want to slice them first), and a spoon ful of soup. Fold packet to seal well and place on coals (never on flames). Turn after about 10 minutes. Using tongs to flip the packets can often cause the foil to tear.

For One Boat
1 Banana
12 Small Marshmallows
Chocolate Chips (small handfull)

Peel back a long strip of banana peel on the inside of the curve, leaving one end attached to the banana. Scoop out some of the banana and fill with marshmallow, chocolate (and raisins if you like). Replace the strip of peeling and wrap in foil. Bake in the embers (about 15 to 20 minutes) until banana, chocolate and marshmallows are melted and blended.

This was supper:

Coffee Can Cookery
2 Strips bacon
1 Med. potato, sliced
1 Med. onion, sliced
1 Med. tomato, sliced>br? 2 Stalks celery
1/3 lb Ground beef
1 Carrot
Salt and pepper to taste
Coffee can and lid

Cut carrot in half lengthwise. Cut celery and carrot into 2" lengths. Cut bacon in half. Mold 2 meat patties. Place 2 pieces of bacon on bottom of can. Place layers of all ingredients. Repeat. Place closed coffee can on top of glowing coals for 25 min. Open lid and check after 10 minutes, if browning too rapidly, pour 2 Tb. of water in can.

They used this can to make breafast...bacon and an egg.

They went to Amicola Falls for a camping trip and what fun they had! These 3 boys turned into cooks! The Rangers gave them a lesson on using a compass.

We did a fishing week and ended up catching and cooking several kinds of fish.I used the following for a lot of help.


The essential flyfishing library, fishing how-to books, and links to some great websites.

We made ice cream and had the parents of the 4 boys come for an Ice Cream Social. We made ice cream in a bag....

We made beef jerky:

I used this to show how Native Americans cooked:

We used a Dehydrator I got for $5.00 at a yard sale and it was new...so we enjoyed making all kinds of fruits and vegetables.

We did a week on making toys...no TV at all until after dark.

They made a whirligig.

Children had sack races and played tag, quoits, marbles,


leapfrog, and Blindman's Buff.

Several players scamper around the room trying to escape the player who is blindfolded. The blindfolded player tries to catch and identify one of the players. Buff is a short form of the word "buffet," which means a blow with the hand or fist. The blindfolded player may be teased by bumping into him and slipping away. Silent Blindman's Buff requires players to remain quiet and remain in one place while the blindfolded player attempts to find and identify one.
all the old games!

We made string figures and a Jaccobs ladder and you will find them here:

They flew kites

and went fishing and swimming. Even simple activities like swinging or taking a walk were enjoyed if they had friend to accompany them. If the weather was bad, children often played with simple wooden toys like spinning tops (we bought several and played games with them) and whirligigs, read aloud...and each night I read to Ryan on the porch like my grandma read to me.

We made and built a boat:

[Site Editorís Note: My goodness, now thatís a summer full of activities!]


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