Living History Field Trips
at Riley's Farm
Living history programs have always been my favorite. Maybe it’s the retired social studies teacher in me, or maybe it’s the way they get my whole family interested in history. I love that living history programs teach through role-playing and immersion rather than books and classrooms. They help us to experience a moment in time to understand better the lives and circumstances of a time period that has shaped the world we live in today. Anyone who thinks history is boring hasn’t been learning history the right way. So come along on our recent field trip to Riley’s Farm and experience the Revolutionary War with us!
But first some details…
Riley’s Farm is located in the apple growing foothills of historic Oak Glen. This small community is near the San Bernardino Mountains and not more than two hours from anywhere in Southern California. Although they offer a variety of things to do all year long, such as pick-your-own fruit, dinner theater, and historically-themed overnight stays, our visit was to experience a living history program.
2261 S. Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, California 92399
Living History Themes to Choose From
Colonial Farm Life
Old Joe Homestead
They range from $12 to $27 per person based on the theme, day of the week, time of the year, and how many people are in your group. Check their website for more information.
How to Make a Family Reservation
While the majority of young people visiting Riley’s Farm for a living history program are school-aged children visiting with their schools on a field trip, Riley’s Farm has a great way to accommodate families that are visiting on their own. Simply check their schedule and then use their online reservation system (or call) to reserve a spot. Each living history program requires at least 60 people to run, but after that number is fulfilled from school groups, families are welcome to jump in. Kids are divided into “town-ships” of about 35 students each, and since they’re all mixed up, no one will feel like an outsider. Parents are free to take pictures, walk around and enjoy the scenery, and of course get a baked good at the bakery (more on that later).
When we arrived at Riley’s Farm, we were placed in a “town-ship” and stayed with this group throughout the rest of our day. We gathered on the main green with all the other townships and were given instructions for the day. Right away, the employees, entirely in character both in dress, accents, and conversation encountered some skirmish, and before we know it, guns had been fired (blanks of course), voices raised and we knew we were in for an action-packed day!
Then we were off to participate in some hands-on stations. Admiralty Court, A Well-Regulated Militia, 18th Century Games and Etiquette were our favorites. Other stations offered included the Blacksmith Shop, the Stamp Act, and Weaving.
A Well-Regulated Militia - learning to march in line.
Etiquette - Learning about manners in the 18th Century.
Admirality Court - Learning about the Legal Systel
The Quartering Act - Learning about rules places on the Colonists
Soldier's Rations & Other Food
Then it was time for lunch. But don’t get too excited! The soldier’s ration of cornbread, a slice of cheese, an apple and dried beef may have fit the theme, but left us hungry. Thankfully we had packed more food. But the real culinary delight at Riley’s Farm is a visit to the bakery. With treats like chicken pot pies, apple pies, and caramel apples, there is no reason for anyone to leave hungry or dissatisfied! Tip: Order your chicken pot pie when you first arrive.
The Mock Battle
Then it was time for the best part of all: a mock battle! The townships were divided into two opposing sides, arms were picked up (sticks of course), and then a lively battle ensued. It was a recreation of the 1775 Battle of St. George’s Tavern. The colonists defended the tavern from behind a stone wall while the Redcoat army marched toward them. This truly was the highlight of the day! My twelve-year-old and some of his friends had a great time participating in a little piece of our nation's history.
And don't miss a chance to visit the resident sheep or browse in the gift shop.
Have you and your family participated in a living history program before? Tell us where and what you thought of it.