by Beth Stauffer

Once upon a time, I had a math teacher at Columbia City High School whose favorite expression at the time of my tutelage in 1992 was, “Kids these days!”  Of course, this statement was made while he shook his head in disgust and competed for the Olympic gold medal in vocal consternation.  Now, it’s quite possible that the Columbia City Eagles circa 1992 were an entirely different breed of teenagers than the present day New Haven Bulldogs.  I do, however, find it difficult to fathom that teenagers have really changed all that drastically for the better in 20 years.

Perhaps this is why I have been so surprised to hear myself mentally say in a very positive way “Kids these days!” after spending considerable time surrounded by teenagers lately.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a few current and recent graduates of New Haven High School at the 200th Anniversary celebration of the Siege of Fort Wayne at the Historic Old Fort.  It is my hope after reading about these young New Havenites, you’ll be saying “Kids these days!” in a positive way as well.

Mike Scott

I originally traveled to the Historic Old Fort to see 16 year old Mike Scott, the son of Michael and Ina Scott of New Haven, and a student at New Haven High School.  Mike’s mom, Ina, had told me about Mike’s participation in Revolutionary War reenactments, and how he had worked to pay his parents back for the initial investment for his uniform and gear needed to get started reenacting.  To me, this sounded both impressive and intriguing.  A 16 year old football player choosing to spend his weekends recreating wars from days gone by?

Now this was something I was going to have to see to believe.

Once I arrived at the Fort, and after getting over the initial shock of running into a group of Native American reenactors who take their costumes (or lack thereof) very seriously, I was delighted to be able to see Mike and his regiment in action on the battlefield.  At the conclusion of the battle, I was able to talk to Mike’s group.  Out of the seven people I spoke with, 4 were New Haven teens:  Tim Radu, 18, a graduate of NHHS; Cody Campbell, 19, a NHHS graduate and New Haven resident; Luke Zuber, 17, a senior at NHHS; and, of course, Mike Scott.  Other members of Mike’s regiment that I spoke with included Laura Dault and Cole Huffman from Fort Wayne and Ted Cooper from Knightstown, Indiana.

According to Mike, it was Tim Radu who first piqued his interest in historical reenactments.  “I really enjoy doing this,” said Tim, who has been participating in reenactments for 2 ½ years.  “It’s more important than what people realize.  A lot of kids my age aren’t doing this, and I think they should be.”  When I asked Tim about his favorite part of being a reenactor, his face lit up.  He said, and I quote, “I like to die.  I do it well, and I don’t know why.  I’ve picked up this knack of dying in horribly awesome fashions, by firing squad mostly.  I try to always land on my face, that way the sun’s not in my eyes.”  Maybe Tim should create a dramatization of this to draw the interest of other teens to reenacting?

During Sunday’s 200th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Wayne, Tim portrayed a member of the militia alongside fellow New Haven resident Cody Campbell.  Cody’s first historical reenactment took place two years ago this coming weekend at the Johnny Appleseed Festival.  When I asked him what he likes the most about reenactments, Cody stated “I enjoy putting on a good show for the public.  I am a performer by nature and I love talking about history.”

During the week, Luke Zuber is a New Haven High School senior; on the weekends at reenactments, he is what his friends in the regiment call “our fearless mandolin player.”  Luke, who initially brought Tim and Cody into the reenacting business, told me that what he likes the most about reenacting is “Everyone is friendly.  There is not one person that is really mean to anyone else.  There’s a real sense of camaraderie.”

Tim Radu, Luke Zuber, and Cody Cambell

Mike Scott is the new kid on the block so to speak in that he has only been doing reenactments since May of this year.  In that time period, however, he has covered a lot of different wars from the Revolutionary War to the French and Indian War to the Civil War and everything in between.  When I asked Mike what he likes the most so far about reenacting, he said “I like dressing up and coming out here to talk about history.  It’s just fun.  An expensive hobby, but well worth it.  You have to be a little bit insane to do this.”

I think Luke would agree, as would I after hearing what he had to say about reenacting in the Indiana summertime heat:  “The last time we were reenacting, it got up to 117 degrees outside.  We were wearing regimental wool uniforms.  That’s why people think we are crazy.”

Kids these days!

It’s hard for me to describe just how passionate these young men were about their love of historical reenactments.  After listening to them tell me about their experiences, I actually considered putting on a wool uniform, grabbing a musket and marching into battle with them.  With all of the negative stories we are bombarded with day in and day out in the news about teens, I have to say that Mike, Tim, Cody and Luke have refreshed my spirit and reminded me that there are some really awesome teens out there doing amazing things of their own accord.

If you plan to attend the Johnny Appleseed Festival this coming weekend, be sure to look for the New Haven reenactors mentioned in this story:  Mike, Tim, Cody, and Luke!  For more information about The Fort, visit www.oldfortwayne.org.

If you know of a New Haven teen doing something good, I’d love to hear about it for a future story!  E-mail me at Beth@BethStauffer.com

Beth Stauffer

 

 

Beth Stauffer is a writer, speaker, Early Childhood Educator, and blogger originally from Columbia City, Indiana who is now a proud New Havenite. In addition to writing for www.NewHavenBulletin.com, she writes about her childhood, her family and friends, and music on her own website, www.BethStauffer.com. If you have an idea for a story for Beth, e-mail her at Beth@BethStauffer.com!

POSTED: 09/12/12 at 6:43 am. FILED UNDER: Entertainment, News