Agape Environmental Education Center

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Oct 14, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Revolutionary War Sites

Agape CenterWe went to Agape twice this fall, once with NC Homeschool Adventures and once with our church homeschool group. We love that place. We have been going ever year for years and years and we still have not run out of programs. When we went with the church group, the kids talked about the food chain, caught animals around the pond and evaluated three different ecosystems. With NCHSA, the kids learned all about trees, habitats and did tree identification. This is a great place for a hike or for a field trip.

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Tyron Palace

Cobey at Pepsi Family Center


NC Homeschool Adventures went back to Tyron Palace. It is one of the few places the kids have begged to go back to. They really wanted to go back to the Pepsi Family Center which in the North Carolina History Center. They loved this interactive museum where you can make turpentine, sail a ship, cook and make a quilt. I was afraid they would be disappointed because they were now too old for it or they were remembering it more fondly than it was; but, we started out our visit their and they loved it. I did manage to tear them away for a delicious  lunch at the cafe. We ate looking over the water and it was very nice. We then went and toured the Palace where we had a great tour guide. We toured one other house on the property and then back to the Pepsi Family Center. We ended up having dinner at Captain Ratty’s which is downtown New Bern  and it was great. We had  a great day and it was getting ready to be even better.




Guest of the Day


We arrived at out hotel the Hampton Inn in New Bern to discover we were the guest of the day. We had a special parking place, breakfast brought to our room and our name in lights. The kids loved it. We have stayed in lots of hotel rooms and it takes a lot to excite the kids now and that did it. What a great idea by that manager that really doesn’t cost them any money but makes a families day. Thumbs up to Hampton Inn of New Bern.

The next day we went to Shackleford Island. We had about a two hour tour of the island with Laura. She is so passionate about the horses and marine life that it is wonderful to learn from her. We got to see the horses up really close which was fun and Claire and Cobey got to snack on pickle grass which they had been talking about to all the kids. We spent another hour just hanging out on the beach and enjoying a great day. I really love it there and Laura makes it even better. When we got off the boat, we went to downtown Beaufort and had a great lunch at Clawson’s and then headed back home.



Shackleford Horses

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Today, we stopped in Camden, SC on our way to Columbia. It was one of the Revolutionary Sites that we never made it to last year while we were studying the Revolutionary War. We came to a site. We got out and went into a small house that was the visitors center. We had been inside for a few minutes and  had not seen anyone. Claire in a very loud voice said, “Is anyone in here.” A lady came out of a back room on the phone. She told us the buildings were open and there was a movie but she she did not seem to want to be bothered. We went out and I told the kids this must not be it. So, we got back in the car and road down the road some more. Well, that was it so we went back. We started with the movie which was okay. It did get Cobey excited about the significance of the town. It is one that loops so we started in the middle which I hate. We then walked around and we did find the Kershaw house which looked nice but was locked. There are several other buildings on the grounds with displays but  we were not impressed at all. It probably would have been much better if we I had gotten their in time for the three o’clock tour. We gave it three thumbs down for our experience and that is from kids that love history. I suggest making sure you make one of the guided tours or skip this stop all together. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.


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The kids and I had an awesome day today in New Bern. We spent eight hours at Tryon Palace and could have spent more.  The only complaint was it was a little unclear where to go. We parked near the Governor’s Palace parking lot and then after trial and error found the Visitor Center. It would have been better to have parked at the parking lot at the Visitor Center. There is not a sign and it is not on the website but they do have a AAA discount so ask. Even without the discount the price is reasonable for what you get.

We started with the orientation film and honestly I can’t remember much about it. I usually say always start with the film but in this case maybe not. We then took photos at the picture booth which is really cool. You can change the background and then e-mail the photos to yourself. The kids could have spent lot of time here but we made them move on. I am a little worried because I have not gotten an e-mail yet. We next went into the Regional History Museum. I really like this museum. It had lots of exhibits where you could press a button and they would tell you a story about different people. The kids loved where you could design your own store sign.

The next stop was the Pepsi Family Center. This was the kids favorite part and ended up spending hours here.  You went into a time machine that took you back in time to 1834. When you got out of the time machine you went to town square where the mayor addressed you and told you about jobs you needed to do. You could be hands on a ship, work at printing press, work in a store, help cook a recipe by finding ingredients, make quilt squares or make turpentine. It was hands-on interactive and the kids loved it!

Yes, we did get to the Governor’s Palace which is what we came for. We had a guided tour of the house where the guide did a great job of telling about the history of the palace and about life during the time period. We also went to the stables and thru part of the gardens. I found Claire praying by the foundation and I had to take this photo. The kitchen was separate and there were guides in this two story building to give you more information and answer questions. There are also two houses that you get to see- the Dixon House and the Stanley House. They say they are not guided tours but they do have staff in the homes to tell you a little about the house. One house is a Federal style and the other is Georgian so it is nice to see the difference in styles.

We took a break for lunch and went to the Cow Cafe. They have a kids menu, sandwiches, and salads. It is a cute atmosphere with a cow motif . It is very reasonably priced and the food was good. I had a salad. Cobey devoured a hot dog and Claire had macaroni and cheese. They are famous for their ice cream which if you are lucky enough you can watch them make. I had pumpkin pie ice cream and it was wonderful. It is nothing fancy but a fun place to go with the kids for lunch.

After lunch and more time at the Pepsi Family Center, we found a few more bears to take photos of. Claire wants to come back and find all the bears in town and take photos. If I had to do it over, I would have spent two days in New Bern and paid for the two days Tyron Palace pass. (It is not much more.) If you don’t have kid’s the right age for the Pepsi Family Museum which I would say 6-11, then you could do it in a day. I would like to try the navigator which comes with the two day pass if we make it back. It is a great trip if you are doing NC History or Revolutionary History .



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I have had a few busy weeks. We spent a few days at the beach where we celebrated my brothers birthday. We had a lot of fun with a Casino theme. We also

While we were there, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto on HB  854- Woman’s Right to Know. This was the last step and  I was so excited because I worked on getting this bill passed. They have been trying to pass this bill for over thirty years. It will save between 3,000 to 6,000 babies a year. Praise the Lord!!

Also while I was there, I finished two storybooks, planned for next homeschool term and started on my NC History Curriculum.

When we returned home, we went to Sword of Peace at Snow Camp. The play is about the Quaker’s internal struggle with rather to fight in Revolutionary War or stick with religious beliefs. I don’t believe it is quite as good as Horn in the West and The Lost Colony but a decent show. I recommend you read about Nathaniel Greene and the Revolutionary War in NC before you go to make it even more meaningful and easier to follow along. Claire was disappointed that she could not go on stage afterward to take photos with the actors. They did greet us as we were leaving.

On Saturday, I will be leaving for a trip to Belize. Please follow our team here:


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If you have been wondering what I have been up to the last few week, I have still been busy. I have hosted and AHG lake event, gone to Marbles Kid’s Museum, done a little school, scrapbooked, read a book and worked on an AHG Camp Day. I have been working very hard on scheduling the field trips for the upcoming year which takes lots of calls and emails. The last thing I have worked on is trying to get HB854 – Woman’s Right to Know Bill passed. We need one more vote to override the governor’s veto. So if you thought I was not leading my crazy life, you would be wrong. I have just not been posting.

After we picked Cobey up from camp, we headed for Kings Mountain National Park. We tried to go in May but there had been a storm and it was closed. It was over a hundred degrees today so it was not the best day but it was open. After we got there and got the Junior Ranger Booklets, we debated about doing the hour walking tour. Cobey and I voted no and Claire and Bruce wanted to go. We decide to go and after  a briefly going thru the museum, we were off.

I think Cobey and I were correct this time. It was so hot that I am sure what the kid’s will remember besides that. The ranger did a good job but I think the film and museum were better. If it is not a 100 degrees out then I think the tour would have been more enjoyable.  The most impressive thing on the tour was the obelisk monument (pictured above) that honors the Patriots who fought and won here.

We watched a movie and finished up out Junior Ranger pages after the tour. The movie does a good job of giving an overview of the battle and the key people in it. The museum is small but has good information. If you don’t take them time to listen at each station you are going to miss out.

This battle was unique because it was Americans fight Americans. There was only one lone British officer. It was also muskets used by the Loyalist vs. rifles used by the Patriots. This decisive win by the Patriots is pointed to as a turning point of the war.

They seem to encourage the Junior Ranger program here and they announce the newest rangers over the loudspeaker. I thought that was a nice touch. I really like that each park has their own way of completing the program so you never know what to expect.

I will be at the beach this week so you may not see me again for awhile.

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We headed for the mountains this weekend to visit some good friends. On the way up, we stopped at Guildford Courthouse National Park. After all the parks we have been to that have been so good, I don’t know why they continue to surprise me. This park is much bigger and better than I expected. I highly recommend it to anyone learning about Revolutionary War, colonial times, or NC History.

We started in the museum with a thirty minute movie that gave a good overview of the battle.  We then walked through the museum which is not huge but has some good exhibits and different from other parks. We then watched the map presentation which shows in detail the moves of the forces. The kids finished their junior ranger program and then we saw a musket demonstration.

We decided to do an audio tour instead of the ranger tour. The audio tour gave information about each stop. I was glad we did it because we would have probably missed the first stop which was great.  Not far down the road is the Colonial Heritage Center. Here they focus more on colonial life using the Hoskins Farmstead as the back drop. There is a map display that I think is better than the one in the visitor display. They have a separate junior ranger program that is very good. They get to know what life would be like for  two of the Hoskin’s children for Hannah and Joseph.  There are  different pages for girls and boys.

We went through the museum first that showed life on the farm and included clothes they wore, how a mill worked, different trades, and a life size cabin. The children answered most of the questions of the Junior Ranger program in the museum. We then had a guided tour of the building outside- home, kitchen and barn. We had an awesome guide. She was so great at engaging the children and asking them questions. She even stumped Cobey with a few questions.

After we completed the junior ranger badges, we finished the audio tour. We did not get out at every stop but around three our four. We were at park for over four hours and the kids loved it and wanted to go back.

On the way back from the mountains, we stopped at the Winston-Salem Children’s Museum. This was our second visit and the kids had a great time. Cobey loved the beanstalk that you climb to get to the second floor. On the second floor, the kids loved the Krispie Kreme shop. Cobey spent most of his time there where it was his store and he ran the business. Claire also enjoyed the grocery store and the storybook area. There was a special puppet show there based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I was excited about that because we are going to start Shakespeare this year and this was an excellent introduction.

After the museum, we had dinner at Frontline Brewery a few blocks away. The service was excellent and food was delicious. Tuesdays is half off the children’s menu so give it a try.



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Fort Ticonderoga and Saratoga National Park

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jun 29, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Revolutionary War Sites, Travel

Fort Ticonderoga was top on Cobey’s list to see. He was not disappointed.  The fort had been left in ruins but restoration began in 1909. The fort was built during the Seven Years War by the french. During the Revolutionary War, the militia led by Ethan Allan and Benedict Arnold took the fort by surprise. Cannon were taken from the fort and used to force British to abandon  Boston. The fort has many demonstrations and programs throughout the day. There is also a museum within the fort. The kids liked where they could build the fort from block pieces. The only disappointed was that the tours did not run on schedule and we had to wait over ten minutes.

We then drove to Saratoga National Park. There Junior Ranger program  is a little different. They do it on the honor system they give the books to the kids and badge to mom. They tell the mom to give it to the kids when completed. The book does not need to be completed on site. It has lots of information and we learned several new things like how the parks come up with the initials. They have a well put together movie  and small museum. The kids liked dressing up in uniform and trying out the tent.  We  then went on the tour road.  We were in search of the Benedict Arnold’s statue which marks where he was injured. He was very heroic for the Patriots during this battle. I thought the battle road was very interesting with audio at some sites and good description and markers. Cobey was disappointed with no existing fortifications.

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A Day of Boats in Boston

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Jun 26, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Revolutionary War Sites, Travel

We had a wonderful day in Boston. I enjoyed Boston more today than the first. I think it was combination of slightly better weather, knowing our way around,  and less traffic.  I realized on the drive to Maine that it was the day on boats – no wonder I liked it.

We started the day with what Claire wanted to do which was the Swan Boats. When we made the hike from the harbor to the Public Garden, we realized the swans where not what we expected. In our Boston Go Card book, it looked like you pedaled individual boats. As you can see it was a much larger boat and someone did the work for you. Claire decided that was still okay and we had a beautiful relaxing ride in a small pond. It was her favorite activity of the day.  The boats have been operated by the same family for 130 years . It is also the cheapest admission in Boston so don’t miss out. We walked around the park for a little while and it is quite beautiful much better than the commons. There are some beautiful flowers and some nice statues one is in honor of                                                                  the book Make Way for Ducklings which is set in Boston.

Our next stop was the Old State House where we looked at some exhibits and went on a tour. We did not do the audio tour that is included with admission. They have John Hancock’s red velvet coat on display and some other interesting artifacts. They have three small areas hands on activities for kids. Claire enjoyed where you get to be the bird in a cuckoo clock. The tour was an overview of the history of the State House and government in Boston. I thought it was good but the kids did not like it much. I don’t think it had enough revolutionary history for them. They liked the tickets the best because each one had a different person on it. Bruce was a British spy which they thought that was cool. The tour ended with an interesting story about a cane on display. We had lunch at the hotdog stand outside- again. Great hotdogs!


After a quick shopping trip for Cobey, we got on the  45 min. Harbor Cruise Tour that makes a stop at the USS Constitution. This tour is free with most of the trolley tours and I highly recommend getting out in the harbor on some sort of boat. The narration was only okay when I could understand and hear it. It was THIS view from the ferry when I first really appreciated the beauty of the Boston skyline. Unfortunately, we did not have time to get off at the stop but it was a nice ride.


We hopped off the ferry boat and got on a tall ship. We had booked the Boston Tea Party cruise with Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships. The kids helped hoist the sails and steer the boat. There was a costumed patriot on board that led the reenactment of the town meeting and the tea party. He also told a great  ghost story about a fort we passed. I would have enjoyed just a sailing without the extra but it made it very exciting for the kids. They loved it. It is only $5 more dollars than the other cruises. You have to pay $10 more if you have a Boston Go Card. Don’t ask me why. This was one of my favorite things we did. I think this, the Duck Tours and the Walking Tour are my top three picks for Boston.


Bruce headed for the airport by water taxi and we headed for a very quick stop at the Aquarium. It is not the best aquarium I have been to but it is good. It has a large penguin exhibit. It has a two different touch tanks. It also had some very nice tanks with some fish and sea creatures I had not seen before. There is a cool exhibit where you have to listen to find the hidden fish- teaching the kids about echolocation. You could easily do the aquarium in two hours. We only had an hour and were a little rushed.




I would have liked to have seen the USS Constitution and Museum and the Art Museum but I feel like we saw a lot in two days. The Boston Go Cards ended up saving us money. I saved $186 on my admissions, the kids saved $62 each of theirs, and Bruce saved $56 for a total savings of $366. Bruce had a 3-day card and we had 7-day. We purchased them at a discount price. There were a few things we may not have done if we did not have the card but I still think we would have come out way ahead.

If I was planning my first trip to the area again, I would have 3 days in Boston, 1 in Salem, 1 in Lowell, and 2 in Lexington/Concord. If I get a chance to come back, I will do a day in Salem, Boston and Lexington/Concord.

We spent the last four nights at a Homewood Suites in Andover. The hotel was in great condition and decorated nicely. The staff was very friendly and helpful. It took us almost an  hour to get to Boston on Friday and about half that on Sunday. It is closer to Lowell and Lexington/Concord. The really  nice thing about Homewood Suites is they serve dinner for free during the week. They serve a hot breakfast each morning but not cooked to order. It was less than half  the price of the hotels in Downtown Boston so you can consider it a great option if in the area.

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The bad news – it was raining when we got up. The good news – it cleared up enough for a nice walk around Walden Pond. The bad news – the lens on my camera is not working. The good news – I have a backup camera. We spent a full day in the Lexington-Concord area. Lexington is where “the shot that was heard around the world” occurred and the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War. The thing I did not know about Concord was that Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa Mary Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne all wrote there.

We first went on the Liberty Ride Tour. It was a 90 min tour that gave a great overview of the battle and the sites in town. It has stops where you can get off but I don’t recommend it. There is only one trolley and you will have a 90 min wait between trolleys. Everyone gets off at the North Bridge (photo above) where the tour guide gives you more information about the battle there. The tour guide was excellent and if you have two days in the area I recommend it. But if you have only have one day then I would skip it.

The trolley tour includes three building tours. The Munroe Tavern, which was the British Headquarter,s was closed for renovations till July. We did tour Buckman Tavern where the militia met and has the original door with a bullet hole. The tour guide was very interesting and informative. After the tour, we walked on the common and saw the memorial and tomb of the militia who had died during the Lexington Battle. The third building was the home where John Hancock and Samuel Adams where staying. (pictured here). This tour starts with a movie about the battle and then a tour of the house. I really enjoyed learning more about the Hancock family and seeing the room where Adams and Hancock stayed.

We then went to the Minute Man National Historical Park visitor center. If I could do it over, I would have skipped the Liberty Ride and spent more time at the National Park. They have an awesome multi-media program that gives the best overall of the battle.  I think the Junior Ranger program is well thought out and put together. My only complaint is the kids had two completely different books. It makes it harder to complete the books. I think it is better to have the same book and have the older children complete more activities. There were several buildings in the park that we did not get to see. They also offer several different tours. Next time this would be my first stop.

At this point, I honestly had heard enough about the battle so we went to the Louisa May Alcott home. I am not a  huge fan of Little Women but this tour was very interesting to me. I now want to reread the book and my kids are interesting in hearing it. I also want to learn more about her father and his philosophy of education. It is also interesting with her ties to Emerson and Thoreau.  The tour starts with an introductory movie and then continues with a tour of the house. The house is where the story is set and where she road the book.

We then went down the street a bit to the Concord Museum. We only had thirty minutes for this wonderful museum. We would have probably not have gone in if we did not have the Boston Go passes since we did not have much time.  We really wanted to see the lantern from the Old North Church. We had been hearing about it for months now so we wanted to see the real thing. The surprise in the museum was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library. There is something magical about a library of a  person of this stature. At the end of the museum, they provided a postcard that you could write a note to a solider and then they would mail it for you. I think this was a nice touch. Across the street from the museum is Emerson’s home which is seen above.

The last stop of the evening was Walden Pond where we saw Henry David Thoreau’s  homesite and reproduction of his home. The kids could not believe how small the home was. We then walked around the pond. It is a beautiful place but the park has put up a fence with metal stakes about about chest high and barb wire without the barbs. I understand they are trying to protect the area and keep people on the trail but it really took away from the experience. Bruce said it reminded him of a cattle chute. It was nice to finally see the sun after four days of rain.

Bruce and I both enjoyed the day more than Boston. I guess I am a country girl like Claire because it was nice not to have the traffic and noise of the city. I would love to go back and tour Emerson’s home, the Wayside home, and Hartwell Tavern. I would also like to go back to Concord Museum. If you only have a day hit the National Park, whatever house you are most interested and then Walden Pond after five when everything else is closed. If you have the option, plan to spend  at least two days in the area.

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