Camps exhibit elicited memories

Camps Exhibit Elicited Memories

Visitors enjoyed show

Memories of summer camp are forged in the relationships made between campers and the Kent Historical Society realizes the importance of those bonds and celebrated summer with its 2015 exhibit, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer.” The exhibit was honored with an Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations.

Many of those visiting that summer left comments in our guest book. Here is a sampling of the comments shared by various people:

“Wow; Fabulous; Wonderful; Loved it! Great Exhibit; Neat! Very evocative! Great Show; Unique and special place; Splendid work; Fabulous restoration! Terrific! Lovely presentation; Enjoyed all so much; Very interesting, well done; Great job! This was the best!”

“An incredible exhibit about the history of camping. The values of summer camp from long ago still ring true today!”

Some of our volunteer docents even get shout outs: “Linda was great!”

“Wow; Fabulous; Wonderful; Loved it! Great Exhibit; Neat! Very evocative! Great Show; Unique and special place; Splendid work; Fabulous restoration! Terrific! Lovely presentation; Enjoyed all so much; Very interesting, well done; Great job! This was the best!”

When you visit the Seven Hearths Museum, please take the time to sign the guest book and please leave a comment. It helps us when we are applying for grants and we like to know what appeals to people in the various exhibits.

We welcomed upper level members June 6 for a party to preview the exhibit. Victor Fink, former owner of Club Getaway and Camp Leonard-Leonore, shared some of his experiences and his thoughts about the importance of camp to so many children.

“For so many adults, their camp experience in Kent was a peak-like experience. It is where they learned to live away from home and they learned sportsmanship and athletics,” Fink said. He added that many don’t realize how many camps operated here. “Kent was kind of the camp capital.”

Images of some of our first guests enjoying the exhibit

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We also hosted 75 alumni campers from Camp Kent and Camp Kenico June 13 to celebrate camp reunions and the public opening of the exhibit.

Dari Silverman was one of the organizers of the Camp Kent reunion. She was very pleased to be a part of the society’s exhibit.

“The exhibit was fantastic. It was well thought out and insightfully displayed,” Silverman said. “For me being there and seeing some old friends that I hadn’t seen in over 50 years was the highlight of the day. We fell back into the friendships that we had established all of those years ago in seconds.”

The exhibit covers the entire range of Kent’s camps from children’s residential camps to adult retreats. Some were for relief workers, such as Near East Camps in Kent Hollow. Three camps are still active and the independent schools regularly host camps for portions of the summer.

Other camps have hosted reunions this summer and made a visit to the exhibit part of the festivities. Camp Francis welcomed former campers and staff July 25 with a reunion at Seven Hearths and a gathering and a walk at the camp. Geer Mountain Camp alumni visited July 26 and sang camp songs in the museum. Camp Po-ne-mah has plans for Aug. 14-16.

This look into Kent’s camping legacy provides a vivid picture of the changing meaning of childhood and recreation, and will resonate with everyone who sojourned in Kent. However, even those who didn’t camp here will recognize many familiar items that were common to the camp experience.

For some of these campers, summer camp proved to be among the warmest and most significant of their lives. In fact, time spent camping in Kent’s woods has led many people to seek out Kent as adults. A number of current residents came to Kent because they remembered the enchanted place where they spent their summer.

At the same time, many longtime Kent residents had little direct experience of the camps in their midst, and one goal of the exhibit is to help them appreciate what actually went on there.

One of the exhibit rooms features the influential adults who were so important to the operations of these camps. Ky Anderson, who taught horseback riding at several camps, is profiled, along with Eugene “Rusty” O’Meara who operated Camp Po-ne-mah after Billie Williams, and Lloyd Albin, who owned and operated Kenmont-Kenwood for many years. All three have been able to see the exhibit and were touched by the displays in their honor.

The Society is grateful to the Exhibition Sponsors: Kent School, The Marvelwood School, South Kent School, Victor Fink in memory of Camp Leonard-Leonore, Nicholas/Tobin Insurance, Union Savings Bank, Bain Real Estate, Ira Goldspiel and William Pitt/Sotheby’s International Realty, as well as Barry Labendz and David Birnbaum of Kent Falls Brewing Company.

Summer Art Enrichment 2015

Summer Art Enrichment Program 2015

The Kent Historical Society will offer three weeks of Art Enrichment Programs for children in July. The first two weeks will offer morning sessions for children to explore color through fine art in a variety of mediums and the third week will offer a morning session focused on drawing and an afternoon session to delve into paintingRegister Here Online

The Historical Society wants to foster arts education for young people in our area to honor the memory of George Laurence Nelson, a pre-eminent 20th Century artist known for his portraits, landscapes and florals, who lived at Seven Hearths for many years and bequeathed his 18th century home to the Kent Historical Society to operate as a museum.   

KHS believes that arts education and other forms of cultural enrichment are essential to a young person’s whole and healthy development. The Society offers Summer Arts Enrichment to encourage children’s innate creativity and boost creative thinking and problem solving, while expanding their experience and appreciation of the arts.

Classes will take place in the Kent Historical Society’s “Art Barn,” an indoor/outdoor space on the campus of the Historical Society’s Seven Hearths property, facing gardens and a woodland that will be used as extended classroom space. At the culmination of each class there will be an exhibition to allow parents and family to see all of the  creations completed through the week.  On that day, the museum will also be open to view the current exhibition “Camps of Kent.”

Early bird discount for Art Enrichment fees are $100 per week for non-members and $90 for KHS members who sign up by May 31, after which fees increase to $115 for non-members and $110 for members.

KHS member families have priority registration through May 22 with any remaining spaces to be filled from a non-member waitlist after that. Join as a Family member for $35.

Final registration deadline is June 15. Registration is not complete until payment is received, either by check or online.

Online Registration Here

Color Splash I –  for ages 6-8, 9 a .m. to Noon, July 6-10

Art instructor Cheryl Moore will return to KHS’ Summer Art Enrichment program to focus on color. Moore is a respected artist and a 33-year teacher, who knows how to draw out artistic talents from her students. She is chairman of the Art Department at South Kent School and has offered a number of special workshops for younger children over the years. This week will be focused on exploring color through painting. The projects will include “Swipe Art” that involves using a limited palette of color dots that are swirled together to create unique images; “Underwater Watercolor” will use a technique that involves alcohol to create water bubbles; watercolor abstract flowers will be painted; leaf prints will be created using large leaves; and dot painting will be employed using a technique similar to that used by renowned artist Vance Kirkland.


Color Splash II – for ages 9-12, 9 a.m. to Noon, July 13-17

This week will also be led by Cheryl Moore and this week will be dedicated to exploring mixed media with a variety of materials, including recyclable papers, and will feature painting with watercolor and some acrylic paints. She will expose the young artists to a variety of artistic styles, cultural interpretations, and mediums. Some of the planned projects are a mixed media self-portrait, tissue paper collage flowers, a landscape using recycled materials, fish prints using the Gyotaku style, and several watercolor paintings.


Drawing – for ages 5-10, 9 a.m. to Noon, July 20-24  ~ CLASS IS FULL (REGISTRATION CLOSED)

birds_drawing1_webThis drawing class will be led by Andy Richards, who is a native of Kent and currently the chairman of the Visual Arts Department at The Gunnery School in Washington. He will instruct students in drawing as a way to explore their creativity and use their imagination. Exploring one’s ideas visually with drawing is a wonderful way to communicate and share a vision. The Principles of Design and the Elements of Design will be covered with the idea that knowledge of these concepts will help the student to understand how to take their ideas and put them onto paper. The central idea is for students to have fun and learn that drawing and the visual arts are a positive learning experience. There is no right or wrong way to draw, which can free a student to explore without the worry of making a mistake. Students will work with pencil, markers, charcoal and pastel on paper, learning techniques for each. They will work on an exercise that involves drawing their favorite place – anything from a house, a room or even a treehouse. They will also complete a drawing examining positive and negative space. Pastels will allow students to work with color and see how different colors can affect the mood of the drawing.

Painting – for ages 8-13, 1 to 4 p.m., July 20-24 ~ CLASS IS FULL (REGISTRATION CLOSED)

Painting can be a lifelong activity, whether as a professional or as a hobbyist. Learning about color and the wonderful effect it has on people can help guide your painting process. We are so fortunate to see our world in all of it splendor with beautiful yellows, blues, reds, greens, oranges and purples. Your imagination lives in full color and painting allows you to make your imagination into a reality. Andy Richards will lead this program as well, and will cover the Principles of Design and the Elements of Design with the idea that knowledge of these will help the student to understand how to take his or her imagination and put it onto canvas. The central idea is for students to have fun and learn that painting and the visual arts are a positive learning experience. As with drawing, there is not a right and wrong way to paint, which can free a student to explore without the worry of making a mistake. Students will start with watercolors and move on to working with acrylics.  One of the projects will be an exercise that involves splattering paint and then looking for creatures that can be developed from the shapes created by the splatters.


Award of Merit presented for Iron Exhibit

Society Wins an Award of Merit for 2014 Iron Exhibit


The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) bestowed upon the Kent Historical Society June 1, 2015, an Award of Merit for the exhibition Iron, Wood and Water: Essential Elements in the Evolution of Kent.  

“The committee was very impressed by the exhibit and commends the Historical Society on successfully highlighting the roles and human stories of everyday workers involved in Kent’s iron industry. From the outdoor history hikes to the resourceful installation, the Historical Society connected Kent’s past to the community today and has helped the community understand the origins of the town,” the League said in its letter announcing the award.

Marge Smith, the Society’s Curator, said it was gratifying for her to see her personal vision presented and receive honors.

“We were thrilled to have our hard work and creativity in this exhibit achieve this recognition,” Smith said. “This was a personal project of mine, but it came to fruition because of the energetic participation of our Board of Trustees.”

Large panels highlighted the personal stories and encouraged visitors to “imagine” themselves in the person’s shoes. These panels were designed by Board President Lynn Mellis Worthington and Trustee Melissa Cherniske.

“This exhibit was presented in a new format for the Society with large photographs and text. We are thrilled that our efforts in presenting this in-depth look at the iron industry were recognized on the state level,” Mellis Worthington said. “It was very exciting to be one of 10 organizations receiving awards this year.”

So often, local histories are told through the lives of the wealthiest notable citizens. This exhibit was unusual in that its focus was on workers and their daily lives in what was the high-tech industry of its era. Iron, Wood and Water was the summer exhibit in 2014 and was open from July to September.

For more information about the awards, see the League’s web site,

Two summer walks

Kent Land Trust and Kent Historical Society
jointly sponsored two walks in July 

Kent Land Trust and Kent Historical Society jointly sponsored two walks in July in conjunction with the 2015 exhibit, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer.”

The first walk was held Saturday, July 25 at the former Camp Francis property, now known as the East Kent Hamlet Nature Preserve, at 39 Kent Hollow Road. All Camp Francis alumnae were invited to attend, as well as members of the public. This event was part of the reunion festivities planned for Camp Francis alumnae and staff.

The second walk was held when the moon was full at the Avian Preserve, located off North Kent Road, Friday, July 31. Participants explored new landscapes and practiced using all their senses while walking the trail at twilight. The walk ended with a campfire and s’mores. South Kent resident John Baker, who has been collecting and performing folk songs for many years, lead the group in camp songs.

The Kent Land Trust began offering seasonal full-moon hikes /walks in 2014. The Historical Society’s exhibit in 2015 celebrated summer with an in-depth look at camping and the outdoors, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer,” so the organizations decided to combine their efforts for this mid-summer hike.

There are many things associated with camping and enjoying the great outdoors. Hiking/walking is one of them and the Kent Land Trust has been making an effort in recent years to make their properties more accessible with publicity of organized hikes/walks, and new trail maps have recently been published for three preserves.