Living history programs are educational, outdoor role-plays, which reenact a portion of history. They are designed so that the “audience” becomes actual participants in the play, such that, each person has an emotional reaction to the event.
A skilled facilitator begins each program with an explanation of what to expect and what the guidelines are for appropriate behavior. Each program is followed up with a discussion in which students identify historical concepts, facts, and are invited to express their feelings and observations. Ultimately, the participants may realize changes that need to be made in their own behavior and attitudes, and in the larger context of society (school, town, nation, and world).
Our historical simulations are designed to give participants an experience to show the importance of basic human rights. They are designed to have a strong emotional impact on the participants, so they may have more empathy for those in the world who continue to be denied human rights. The intensity and value of this program is dependent on how much the students know about the time period in which the simulation is set.
Survival on the Underground Railroad – (SURR Grades 5 & up.) The SURR program actively involves all participants. The JOY staff portrays several different characters representing different perspectives on slavery. The participants will travel through the woods at night, and meet Plantation Owners, an Abolitionist, a Bounty Hunter, a follower of John Brown, a Quaker, etc. The visiting teachers and parents portray the “conductors” leading the group toward freedom, and the students role-play the part of runaway slaves. It is approximately a 3-hour program and covers almost one mile of trails, in the evening, in most types of weather.
- On April 18, 2006, Joy was included as a “Freedom Station” with NURFC. JOEC’s work with its living history programs and history as the region’s first co-racial, co-ed camp provide a great connection to the values and mission of NURFC. The Freedom Stations Program is a national outreach program linking organizations engaged in Underground Railroad research, historic preservation, and/or contemporary freedom struggles through the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Trail of the Century (TOC) – Foul weather may force us inside during the SURR program. TOC is the indoor version of SURR. It can start with an auction and progress to interactions with the same SURR characters. The students would still portray slaves, all as one large group and next would be invited to witness a trial scene of the Quaker who was caught harboring runaway slaves.
Trail of Tears – Cherokee Removal Through active participation, the students role-play the life of Native Americans and the experience the betrayal of the U.S. Government through broken treaties and promises. They will also witness the hardships the Native Americans suffered during their removal to unknown lands. Through this experience students will become aware of some of the consequences of discrimination – hate, fear, suspicion, inhumanity, frustration, bitterness, and false feelings of superiority or inferiority, by interacting with historical characters such as: Chief John Ross, Major John Ridge, General Winfield Scott, Yonaguska, and Davy Crockett.