Living History

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YMCA, National Parks Service teach campers about Reconstruction Era

With the U.S. National Parks Service recently naming historical sites throughout Beaufort County to the new Reconstruction Era National Monument, the Wardle Family YMCA has joined a nationwide program that exposes youth to our national parks. 

Sometimes children really do pay attention, as seen by this art work drawn on a paper hat made recently at the National Parks Services Reconstruction Era National Monuments museum. After studying local history at the museum, an anonymous student drew this detailed art work on a hat. Acting Superintendent Dawn Davis said she is going to keep the hat.

The program was established in 2014 by YMCA-USA and the National Park Service with the goal of engaging more youth in outdoor experiences. 

“Since the Reconstruction Era National Monument is a new national park unit this year, we are very excited about this opportunity,” said Betsy Hinderliter, marketing and development director for the Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry. “Our summer campers are visiting each of the sites that are part of this park unit in Beaufort County, which include Darrah Hall and the Brick Baptist Church, buildings within the Penn Center, Camp Saxton on the Naval Base, and the Old Beaufort Firehouse.”

Campers made their first visit to the monument on June 29, learning about Robert Smalls and other stories of the Reconstruction era at the Old Beaufort Firehouse and Tabernacle Baptist Church. Future trips include Darrah Hall at Penn Center for a discussion on communities on July 6; Grand Army Hall in Beaufort for discussion of Decoration Day and service on July 13; Darrah Hall for a discussion of surviving on the sea islands on July 20; and the Brick Baptist Church for a discussion on Reconstruction and a look into the future on July 27.

For more information on this or any program at the Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry, visit their website at 

Photo at top: Dawn Davis, acting superintendent of the National Parks Service’s Reconstruction Era National Monuments, welcomes 20 YMCA summer day campers to the new museum at 706 Craven Street. The children, ages 8 to 12, were on hand to learn about reconstruction of the South following devastation caused by the Civil War. Beaufort County was spared the devastation as it fell into Union hands early in the war. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

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