Victorian Day Camps take students back in time

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 4:48pm
By: The Citizen

By Gwen Hughes
Special to The Citizen

In a charming Fayetteville home, hoop skirts are the latest trend.

The Victorian Day Camps at the Southern Oaks House are not about teaching young girls history. Rather, the camps are focused on showing them instead. For the past 12 summers, owner Michele Cox, an avid history buff, has run a variety of week-long historical camps for young girls. The students learn to live the lifestyle of the period by wearing the typical dress and participating in activities such as sewing their own costumes, making colonial tea and candles, and playing games from the past. The main objective, according to Cox, is for the children to learn, and to have fun while doing it. One young girl in the Victorian Camp, an 1800s inspired camp which features bonnets and homemade ginger ale, says that “at school I hate history, but Mrs. Cox makes it fun.”

Another prominent aspect of the camp is dancing. In the Victorian Camp, dances such as the Indian Queen, Willow Tree, Minuet and Circle Mixer, all involving multiple partners and intricate steps, are special favorites. “It’s not that hard to teach kids to dance,” Cox says. And indeed, Cox seems to be a master at it, as the girls at the Victorian Camp whirl with effortless grace. All of Cox’s camps, including a Colonial and Edwardian Era camp, focus heavily on dancing. Cox is especially excited for the International Folk Dance Camp which will be hosted at the end of July. The only camp to be co-ed, the Folk Dance week will cater to tweens and teens, teaching traditional dances from Eastern Europe, Israel, Greece, Germany, England and other exotic locations from around the world.

Girls particularly love the camp because “every girl loves to dress up and dance.” Several girls come for multiple sessions and return the next summer. Previous students have donated money for other girls to attend, and one camper, 18-year-old Dera Dyer, attended the camp for several years before becoming a full-time employee of the camp and Southern Oaks. Besides hosting the Victorian Adventure Camps in the summer, Southern Oaks, owned by Cox and her husband, is also host to weddings and bridal showers throughout the year. Located on the charming Jeff Davis Drive, the house complements the camps with its historic charm.

For more information about the camps and Southern Oaks, see the website at

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