Pamela Jackson - Guest Services
It’s spring, and after we survived the long winter months, we hope you’ll join us in welcoming both spring and the 2011 season at Conner Prairie. We’ve got lots of exciting events coming up, so give us a call in Guest Services if you aren’t sure what programs are appropriate for you and your family or group.
First up is our acclaimed Follow the North Star
program, an Underground Railroad simulation that runs Fridays and Saturdays the first three weekends in April. (The last weekend is sold out; remaining available dates are April 8 & 9). If you plan to attend, stop and say hello to me at the Guest Services ticket desk, where I will be checking in tour groups with reservations and handing out release forms.
A lot of these groups consist of school children, but since Follow the North Star is not recommended for persons under age twelve, these school groups tend to be high schoolers or even college students. We have many teachers and sponsors who return year after year, eager to introduce their students to this very effective learning experience. There are also other participants arriving from nearby or far away, many for the first time, and full of questions:
“Will they touch us?” (No!)
“Will we get lost?” (You may think you’re lost, but we know where you are at all times.)
“Will it be cold/rainy/windy?” (Maybe, so we hope you’re dressed for the weather.)
“Are we going to get yelled at?” (Absolutely!)
Follow the North Star is such an intense experience because guests assume the roles of fugitive slaves. Our Conner Prairie interpreters – you know, the ones who are usually so friendly and helpful while in 1836 costume – take on different personas for this program, and can be either very intimidating or quite helpful to the “slaves” on their journey to freedom. This program is designed to create a learning experience unlike any other, not by reading or listening or watching, but by doing. As such, it is not for the faint of heart!
You see, when I’m not at the ticket desk, I also participate in Follow the North Star in various capacities. Perhaps I am walking the groups out to begin their experience, admonishing them to remember it is 1836. Perhaps I am in costume waiting to assist them on their outdoor journey, or – not to give too much away – perhaps I see that groups arrive at their final stop relatively unscathed.
So come on out and try our Underground Railroad simulation if you have a sincere desire to learn in a unique fashion. If that is not for you, then we hope to see you during the daytime for an enjoyable visit back in time!