Campers travel back in time

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published July 10, 2013

ROCHESTER HILLS — Butter churning, water fetching, bowing and curtsying will replace video games for some city children this summer.

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm will present Little House by the Creek Camp in July and August.

“Campers work and play like yesterday,” said Michele Dunham, museum program coordinator. “Chores first, then old-fashioned games.”

The pioneer-style camp is popular with modern youngsters, she said. “We have campers that have come three and four years in a row.”

Campers age 7 to 11 learn the summer activities of their forefathers’ children, along with their schooling style. “We do a few lessons at the (historic) schoolhouse,” Dunham said. “They bow and curtsy when they enter and ask permission to speak. We role-play disciplines from the past, write on slates and have spelling bees.”

A walk to the historic Stoney Creek Cemetery is included in camp activities, where stories about the first settlers to the Rochester area are told. “We do grave rubbings and have a scavenger hunt,” Dunham said.

Every pioneer camp day ends with a creek adventure, including swimming and a gold prospecting lesson. “We do plant identification, we pick berries and raspberries. We have crafts like tin punching and candle dipping, and we make wooden boats and kites,” Dunham said.

The Little House by the Creek Camp is held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 18, and Aug. 1 and 8. Cost is $35 a session.

Little House in the Village Writer’s Camp is available for young writers ages 9-12. The four-day program is held Aug. 26-29 for a fee of $135. According to museum officials, the writer’s camp focus is on process, not product.

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is a complex of historical buildings located in historic Stoney Creek Village. The museum celebrates five generations of the Taylor-Van Hoosen families and the lives of the family members.

Museum buildings include the 1840 Van Hoosen Farmhouse, the 1850 Red House, the 1927 Dairy Barn and the 1848 Schoolhouse. In addition, the museum is surrounded by 16 acres of gardens and grounds, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Rochester Hills Museum is located on Van Hoosen Road, south of Tienken Road and east of Rochester Road. Tienken Road is currently closed to all traffic between Rochester Road and Sheldon Road for a road-widening project.

Museum Supervisor Pat McKay said detours are well-posted and do not stop visitors from coming to the museum. “This is the second time in three years that we have gone through a complete road shutdown,” McKay said. Two years ago, the Stoney Creek bridge was replaced on Tienken Road.

“It is difficult, but we recognize the need for it,” McKay said. “A complete shutdown is faster and safer for workers. We want it done as fast as it can be.”

Road Commission for Oakland County officials estimate the road will reopen to traffic Oct. 19. The detour route for through traffic is Rochester Road to Avon Road to Dequindre Road to Runyon Road, and vice versa.

Register for Little House by the Creek Camp and Little House in the Village Writer’s Camp at or by visiting the Rochester Hills Museum between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.