A Summer of Discovery - CSPM

A Summer of Discovery

Meg Poole, Programs Coordinator

Last summer the Museum faced a unique challenge. For over ten years we had provided an opportunity for local middle and high school students to serve as volunteer Junior Docents. Not only did the student’s support help the Museum offer family programs during the summer months, but it created an environment where students could practice and develop many important communication skills. Each year students and their families would tell us about how the program helped build confidence, made school presentations easier, and even inspired future academic and career pursuits.

When the Museum closed to the public due to COVID-19 pandemic,  we knew that we didn’t want to lose this special connection with students. We moved to an online format where we met once a week and challenged students to complete different history tasks – make a recipe from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum’s (CSPM) Archives, visit and research a historic building in your neighborhood, recreate a vintage photo, and more. Even though the virtual Zoom environment created some issues we were thrilled with the response from the students. They were engaged, asked wonderful questions, and made unanticipated connections to the challenges they faced in the real world. We invited the CSPM and City staff to lead virtual activities that provided students with a behind-the-scenes look into the world of public history.

As the summer of 2021 quickly approached and many looming COVID-19 restrictions were on our minds, we had to decide how we might safely merge the best parts of the two program formats in-person – engage students with local history, but also help them to develop some important skills. The result was the Museum Discovery Program, a one-week immersive history experience for students entering grades 6th through 12th. Program participants spent an activity-packed week exploring the fascinating world of museums. They went behind-the-scenes of the CSPM, gained a better understanding of our community’s history, connected with likeminded peers, and worked on important interpretive and public speaking skills.

Junior Docents were challenged to recreate a historic mousse recipe during the virtual program in 2020

Each day we explored a new museum topic and worked towards developing their interpretive projects:

Middle School Program

Our daughter has been to many camps over the years and this was one of her favorites! She has loved the Pioneers Museum since she was a little kid; it was always one of our favorite places to visit throughout the years, including many Family Fun Days. Having her present at the Family Fun Day at the end of camp felt like a full circle moment. Getting a close-up, behind the scenes look at the history of the people and places really helped strengthen the connection to her city. She's been excited to point out buildings downtown and is looking forward to volunteering at other events with the Museum. It's really nice to have camps for older kids -- thank you for doing that.

Parnet of a Middle School Particpant

High School Program

My daughter came home every single day talking about what she'd learned. She was so excited to share everything she'd learned, and couldn't wait to return the next day. Our entire family loves her enthusiasm and we learned new things about Colorado Springs history every day. Wonderful experience.

Parnet of a High School Particpant

The Museum Discover Program generously sponsored by: