Spending Father’s Day in the past

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Anyone who found themselves at the Ephrata Cloister this Father’s Day was transported back to life in the 18th century.



“Sometimes Father’s Day is just a really good day to make sure some things happen,” Mim Herr said about getting her family out and together to learn about the historical site.



Mim said her husband had been wanting to visit the cloister for some time, and when she went online and saw the Father’s Day event, she thought it was perfect.


“My husband loves history. I just knew it would be something he’d enjoy,” Mim said, adding that she likes when the family can go and participate in an activity together. “This was a good opportunity for (us to learn together).”


Ben Herr said Sunday’s trip to the cloister was a surprise present from his wife and three children.


Herr said he’d been to the Ephrata Cloister years before and had been meaning to get back, but life always seemed to get in the way. Sunday was the perfect day to finally go, he added, because the weather was so nice.


“It’s in your backyard (but) you just don’t think about it,” he said.


Herr said he thought it was cool to come and think about what people were like during the 18th century, because no matter the time period or the location, people deep down aren’t very different and don’t change.


Simply put, people are people, he said.


Sunday’s event, while it saw a small turnout, was one museum program and volunteer facilitator Rebecca Lawrence said she hopes will continue for future years. The cloister currently holds many events, such as a monthly kid’s story time and an event during the Christmas season, she added.


Lawrence said the event allowed families to learn together and see what life was like when the sisters and brothers lived and worked in the cloister many years ago.


“It’s not an opportunity they get to receive every day,” she added.


Those who come and participate get to learn in a hands-on fashion at three outdoor stations, she said.


The event started with families getting to sign an “indentured servant” contract and stamping the document with a wax seal.


At the first station, families can make sheets of paper from water-soaked cotton fibers pressed together. The second and third stations allowed families to work a printing press and build and paint furniture.


Lawrence said events like these that allow kids to learn in a hands-on fashion are important because they cater to different learning strategies.


For the Herr family, the learning experience and the glimpse into history combined to make the perfect Father’s Day activity.


“Just the buildings alone are reason enough to come. You can learn about things, but to actually do it takes it to a whole new level,” Mim Herr said. “It’s like a little step back in time. Sometimes it’s important to reflect back on where we’ve been and where we’re going.”


But as fun as getting a taste of what 18th-century life was like, Ben Herr said getting to spend the day with his children and wife was what was most important.


People need to always remember to make time to parent, he added.


“The broader thing (today) is spending time with your kids,” he said.

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