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History & crafts for kids

Children flock to Tesoro Adobe Historical Park for summer camp

Posted: July 17, 2008 12:53 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Noelle Min, 10, shows off her colorful hands after a session of painting, during the first day, of the first session of the Summer Adventure Camp at Tesoro Adobe Historic Park on Monday afternoon.

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Kids will be making crafts, painting pictures and playing games while they soak up a bit of history during Summer Adventure Camp at Tesoro Adobe Historic Park in Valencia.

Camp Director Albert Ewing, called “Mr. Al” by the campers, started out the first session of the day camp Monday with a tour of the main attraction at the park, the former home of Western movie star Harry Carey Sr. The home, one of seven buildings at the park, is made out of tightly compacted earth, clay and straw — also know as adobe, Ewing told the campers.

Strewn with Western paintings on the walls, the home has two fireplaces, Western-designed rugs, bull horns on top of doorways and a deer head in the master bedroom.

“It’s a little scary,” said camper Rebecca Lee, 10. “But it’s cool, too. It’s like an old historic monument.”

Perfect site
The ranch became a Western film site as early as 1913 and was a meeting place for Hollywood’s Western actors, directors, writers and producers, drawing such visitors as Will Rogers, John Wayne, William S. Hart and John Ford. The Adobe Ranch House was built to fulfill Carey’s dream of living in an authentic Spanish hacienda.

After Carey’s death, the property, which was then about 1,700 acres in size was sold to the Clougherty family, Ewing said.

“Have any of you guys had Farmer John sausage?” Ewing asked, and several campers raised their hands. “(The Cloughertys) owned that company, and they wound up with this place because they wanted to make sure the ranch was preserved.”

The Clougherty family used the ranch as a vacation home until 1999, when they sold most of the land to develop the Tesoro community and donated the two acres that the historic buildings were on to the county for use as a park.

One good thing about the adobe construction of the ranch house is that the inside of the house always maintains the same, comfortable temperature, Ewing said.

“In the blazing hot summer, or the harshest winter, this room stays the same temperature,” Ewing said, standing in the master bedroom. “The adobe itself is a natural insulator, so it’s an even temperature year-round.”

Easy to be inspired
After a tour of the ranch house, the campers were taken to outdoor tables, set up in the shade outside the old bunkhouse for an art lesson. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, a terra-cotta fountain and historic adobe buildings, it was easy for the campers to be inspired.

The nearby wooden stable, one of the oldest buildings at the park, was built in 1925 by Universal Studios in exchange for allowing the ranch to be used as a film location. The stable was also the site of the Wild West shows that Carey held at the ranch during the 1920s.

Ewing kept the art lesson simple, teaching the campers how to create a line drawing of an apple, a carrot and a flower. He gave each camper a big piece of paper, encouraging them to “draw big.”

“We draw big pictures, because we are big people,” he said, taking Rebecca’s drawing of a carrot and showing it to the rest of the campers to demonstrate how big he wanted their drawings to be. “This is what I’m talking about.”

Rebecca said she liked coming to camp at Tesoro Adobe Historic Park because “it’s fun.”
“We do unexpected things, and it’s creative,” Rebecca said.

Not just crafts
In addition to art lessons, the campers have contests and games, make crafts, do creative writing, play sports and go on field trips. One of the field trips they will take is to William S. Hart Park in Newhall to see the six baby bison.

“I like the activities that we’re doing,” said camper Briana Crockett, 11.

Ewing told the campers that if they enjoyed the camp, they could continue coming to the park once school starts, because the park is going to start offering an after-school program.

“Which means you can continue coming to the park to paint, and draw and play games,” Ewing said.

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