This Spring will be special for Webberville’s Northfork Farms and Outback. The farm will celebrate 10 years of Wild West-themed field trips for elementary school kids.
“It all started as a way to spice up the grand finale trail ride for our summer camps,” says Northfork Farms owner, Christie Showerman.
“We started by putting up a few silhouettes of cowboys and other western-themed characters. Over the years, the kids enjoyed it so much that the trail ride blossomed into a trip to an 1800s Old West Town.”
As more kids returned to camp year after year, the Northfork staff made a point of creating new surprises along the twelve-acre trail.
The first was an Old West jail building, where the kids played as outlaws and sheriffs. Next was a kid’s saloon and play structures built like military forts.
When a blacksmith shop was built to teach the kids about horse-shoeing, the dusty path expanded from a unique trail ride to a learning experience in a fun, hands-on environment.
In the spring of 2006, Northfork first opened its’ gates to elementary schools for Wild West Adventure Field Trips. Since then, hundreds of kids come to each year to experience life in the 1800s’s American West.
Many teachers are annual visitors and make the field trip part of their historical curriculum. Local Webberville kindergarten teacher, Mary-Beth Glover, has brought her class since 2010.
Mrs. Glover chooses Northfork field trips for their balance of engaging education and fun physical activities.
“The hands-on activities truly enhance the tour,” says Mrs. Glover. “The tour guides use them to illustrate the differences between the way we do things now to how we did things long ago.”
In addition to providing a fun atmosphere, Northfork’s facilities are safe for large groups of kids. As a smaller, private venue, field trips operate for one group at a time. This model allows the farm to adjust to the needs of each group, as well as provide parents and teachers with the assurance that their kids are in a safe environment.
The Wild West is comprised of three sections, or “adventures;” the Native American Village, 1800s Old West Town, and Cowboy Texas. Each adventure focuses on different historical aspects of the 1800s, spanning from Louis and Clark to the Alamo.
Every adventure includes storytelling and the opportunity for kids to use genuine items from their respective time periods. A few examples include washing clothes with a Chinese laundry machine, churning butter, and panning for gold.
In addition to providing quality lessons in history, it is also Northfork’s goal to get kids excited about animals. Each field trip includes a trip to the farm’s petting zoo. For groups interested in horses, the Cowboy Texas Adventure offers pony rides and grooming time with horses.
To learn more, visit Northfork’s website, http://northforkoutback.com. Kid’s Adventures tab lists details about each adventure and the booking process. The farm is located in Webberville, MI.
“The Wild West has grown into more than we ever imagined,” says Christie. “We look forward to another ten years of fun, education, and introducing more kids to the wonders of our nation’s history.”