This summer I had an opportunity to spend a day with the kids at Shiktehawk Bible Camp, encouraging kids from 7 through 12 years of age to take up prospecting. I was fortunate to have my two daughters with me to give me a hand with the activities and presentations. I have to admit, the weeks leading up to the camp I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold their interest, boy was I wrong.
There were 4 sessions on the day, each about an hour and a half long with 30 kids per session. Keeping 120 young kids engaged was a challenging task, but with help from the cabin leaders and my kids lending a hand we had a great time.
I had setup a prospector’s table with plenty of tools, maps, books, rocks and minerals. This was a common session before breaking out into smaller groups. I had the kids guess what each of the tools were used for, conducted a few basic identification tests, and handed around some samples. They enjoyed watching the acid test, did some streak tests and especially enjoyed handling the gold and pyrite samples I floated around.
Following the common session I had one group of 15 panning for painted and hammered out fishing weights made to resemble gold. Although the colour was off, the density is perfect for learning to pan for gold. I conducted a few demos, then filled their pans with material from the ‘crick’ and mixed in a small piece of ‘gold’. The kids were simply awesome and picked up on panning in no time. Over 70 percent of them were able to pan out a small piece of ‘gold’ in less than 3-4 minutes. They all wanted to keep the little piece they panned.
I set up a sluice box on the Shiktehawk stream and ran through approximately 10 buckets of material to show the kids how the sluice worked. At the end of the day I did do a clean up but as suspected didn’t come across any colour in the box. There really wasn’t enough time to be picky on the sampling, it was more to show the kids how it worked. I did recover some garnets and plenty of black sand. The black sand was great to demonstrate how some material is ‘magnetic’.
At another station I had my metal detectors which I let the kids try. They were very keen, although the location I believe was over top of a septic field and near power lines, so the thing was chirping non-stop. Next time I’ll pick a better location, as least they had the chance to swing a metal detector and try and find the treasure I had buried earlier in the day.
A big thank-you to the leadership and staff at Shiktehawk, it was a great experience for me and my girls. They are pumped to come back and do it again should they theme warrant another visit. Out of the 120 kids there were only a handful who were genuinely disinterested, you can’t win them all. By the end of the day I was quizzed on every rock on the grounds and asked ‘What’s this worth?”. LOL.. I believe I sent at least half of them home with gold fever.