Our mission here at Napa County Historical Society is to “keep history alive.” The most obvious way we do that is through our research library and archives, where we preserve, protect, and provide access to irreplaceable and invaluable information about the history of our county and its people. We also follow our mission through regular educational programs and events, such as our recent lecture on the Basalt/Kaiser Steel/Napa Pipe/Trans Bay property. The trick, however, to keeping history alive isn’t through those of us who already think our history is something special, but to share that enthusiasm with the local school kids.
There are a lot of ways NCHS connects with students. We host a number of college and post-grad interns here, teaching them the professional skills they need to move into history, library, and museum/archives fields. We also work with high school and elementary school volunteers and interns who need volunteer hours or a senior project to graduate. Most recently, we worked with a group of Napa High students in the LAYLA program as they conducted oral histories of Mexican immigrants who have settled in Napa County – a project that has never before been attempted!
But one of my favorite ways of introducing local history to kids is through our scavenger hunts. Each scavenger hunt is 1-2 hours, and takes 10-30 kids all over downtown Napa. They learn about local history, some of our most famous citizens, important buildings, and big events. And they get a little math and science as well. No two hunts are the same, and each can be personalized depending on the level of advancement of the students or what they’re studying in class.
Working with elementary school kids is so much fun! Most of them have only learned a little about Napa’s history, and watching their eyes light up (and their parents, too!) as they discover our fascinating history is always exhilarating. The scavenger hunts show them a side of Napa they’ve never seen before, and by discovering the past they learn to better appreciate their present.
If you’re interested in having us do a scavenger hunt with your kids, or just want to know more about it, send us an email.