Camp George v. George: A Summer Camp to Travel Back to Colonial Virginia

School is out for summer…almost! Students are counting down the days until they are free from homework, but the learning does not have to stop!. The George Washington Foundation has been busy preparing fun-filled summer camps to encourage critical thinking through exploring the past.

In our Camp George v. George, students will be asked, “Would you be an American patriot or a British loyalist?” as they learn about George Washington and his family’s experience living under the rule of King George III.

The camp will alternate between George Washington’s Ferry Farm, his boyhood home, and Historic Kenmore, his sister’s later-in-life house. George lived at Ferry Farm from six years old until 22 years old. This was where George learned how to survey, dance, and petitioned for his first military office at Ferry Farm. His time at Ferry Farm shaped him into the man who navigated the battlefield and the political arena to pursue the American cause.

Similarly, George’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, was shaped by her time at Ferry Farm. She was instructed in the customs of gentility, which included the tea ceremony.[1] While at Ferry Farm, her uncle, Joseph Ball, gifted a silver tea set and other tools so Betty could refine her skills as a future lady of the house. During this time, Betty was taught the expectations for young women in colonial Virginia.

Washington’s Ferry Farm

While Betty’s experience at Ferry Farm was significant, her story does not end there. The skills she acquired at Ferry Farm equipped her to marry Fielding Lewis, a wealthy merchant in town. Twenty-five years later, they moved into their new home at Kenmore in 1775. Fielding and Betty envisioned the mansion as the site of lavish social events filled with tea, dancing, and awe from their guests. However, that dream was never realized, and the couple sacrificed greatly for the American cause. Betty managed the household and attended to the needs of the Washington family, including her mother, Mary. Fielding could not fight in the war, but he voluntarily gave up his trading business with British merchants, donated supplies to the war effort, and financially supported a gunnery in Fredericksburg.[2] Fielding also collected debts and handled several land deals for his brother-in-law.[3] The stress of the financial strain took its toll on Fielding, and he passed on December 7, 1781. Betty struggled financially for the rest of her life due to Lewis’ sacrifices for the Patriot cause.

Historic Kenmore and Ferry Farm will be the sites where campers will learn about life in colonial America. Archaeologists, socialites, dancers, surveyors, and soldiers are just a few of the roles that the campers will embody as they explore the cultural, social, and military life of colonists during the Revolutionary War era. Activities will include a mock archaeological dig, a surveying hike, dancing lessons, militia drills, and more! This experience will provide insight into life before, during, and after the American Revolution. George, Betty, and Fielding, along with many others, had their lives transformed by society, government, and friendships. What would you do in such instances? That is the question campers will think about during their experiences, but don’t worry, plenty of fun, games, and activities will be included!

Camp George v. George will be offered in two sessions for families’ convenience. Session A will be June 13 – 17 from 9 am to 12 pm, and Session B will be from July 25 – 29 from 9 am to 12 pm. Please see our events page at for more information!

Kaylie E. Schunk

Manager of School & Youth Programs

[1] Laura J. Galke, “The Mother of the Father of Our Country: Mary Ball Washington’s Genteel Domestic Habits,” in Northeast Historical Archaeology 38 (2009): 33.

[2] “Fielding Lewis;” Palmer, and McRae, eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 456, 502-3; Duke, Kenmore and the Lewises, 94-96; Fleming, Story of Kenmore, 9; “To George Washington from Fielding Lewis, 14 November 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives, Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 2, 16 September 1775?–?31 December 1775, ed. Philander D. Chase (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987), 371–373.

[3] “From George Washington to Fielding Lewis, 20 April 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives, Source: The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, vol. 9, 8 January 1772?–?18 March 1774, ed. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994), 221–224; “To George Washington from Fielding Lewis, 8–9 May 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives, Source: ibid., 229–230. “To George Washington from Fielding Lewis, 24 May 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives, Source: ibid., 235.