Ever since we visited Jockey Hollow in Morristown, New Jersey and saw a historical reenactment there, Luke has been extremely interested in the American Revolution. He is really turning into a little history buff, and I am happy to encourage this interest.
So, for New Experience #20, we visited George Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey. Since it is part of Morristown National Historical Park, the visitor’s center has free Junior Ranger activity guides. If you ever visit a National Park, I highly recommend the Junior Ranger programs. My kids really enjoy them.
Washington’s Headquarters is made up of two parts: a museum and the mansion where George Washington lived from 1779-1780. We first explored the museum, which was filled with artifacts from daily life during the Revolution and military items. This could have been a very dry museum, but our handy little Junior Ranger guide had a scavenger hunt inside. You might remember that my kids are big fans of scavenger hunts, so they happily looked through exhibits for obscure objects like shoe lasts and kept a running tally of how many times they saw George Washington’s face in an exhibit.
After we explored the museum, we took a tour of the Ford Mansion. Guided tours are the only option for visiting this part of the headquarters. The guide was very informative and interesting to me, but the tour was definitely geared towards adults. Thank goodness we had those Junior Ranger guides! The kids designed their own National Parks and filled out a puzzle page while the man explained the history of the house.
Both Luke and Leah did enjoy peeking into the rooms of the mansion. Leah loved the fancy bed linens and tea sets. Luke liked hearing about where George Washington worked and slept. I was amazed when the guide described one simple wooden table as the “Pentagon” of the American Revolution. It was the spot where all military strategy and correspondence happened.
After visiting Jockey Hollow and Washington’s Headquarters, our family has truly gained an appreciation for the comforts we enjoy in 2013. Even though the house is truly a mansion, the people who lived there during the Revolution never enjoyed the things we take for granted. Simple things like indoor plumbing, heating, and antibiotics were not yet invented. My children couldn’t believe that kids their age would be expected to work long hours to help support their families.
When the tour was over, we stopped in the gift shop to get the Junior Ranger badges. The kids proudly wore them home. Luke is still very interested in learning about the American Revolution, so we are reading a book and watching Schoolhouse Rock videos about it. I think I am learning as much as he is!
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