One of the big discussions we faced heading into our Gettysburg trip was... Guns, or No Guns... let me explain.
All of these historic sites have in every visitors center and gift shop big racks of wooden toy guns of all kinds. During our trip to Colonial Williamsburg, we ignored the begging and pleading. But when our neighbors took their kids to Gettysburg for spring break, their kids, of course, came home with guns. We heard a lot of, It's Not Fair, and Why Do They Get Guns But We Don't, but more significantly, these guns that the neighbors brought home led to a solid two weeks of amazing creative play ranging across all of the backyards and every age of kid. I spent hours watching the kids act out scenes from the Civil and Revolutionary Wars and delighted in hearing the big kids and the little kids discussing history together.
So, although we are not big fans of guns, we are big fans of imaginative, independent, creative play. Fine, at the next historical site we visit, the kids can get guns, we relunctantly grumbled. We decided to go ahead and get the gun purchase over with first thing on our arrival to Gettysburg so we wouldn't have to hear about them any longer and that was easy since our campground store (called Artillery Ridge,natch) had the biggest selection of wooden toy guns we had seen yet. And we are suckers for history so we bought the kids Union soldier caps as well. It turned out to be a great purchase because the kids hauled their guns around all weekend, re-enacting battles on the campground playground with the other kids. And at each site on the actual battlefield, they had the thrill of hiding behind the very same walls that the real soldiers used for cover, climbing the same rocks for lookouts imagining they were scouts, and traipsing through the woods wondering whether a confederate was hiding behind the next tree.
Of course, now they are begging for guns that have exploding caps and the answer is NO!