Digest>Archives> March 2002

International Lighthouse Conference to Focus on Children

Plan Now To Attend!


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The winning poster design that will be the logo ...

The historic maritime City of New Bedford, Massachusetts and the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF), will be hosting an International Lighthouse Conference (ILC) this September 17-21, 2002.

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Some of the members of the planning committee for ...

This conference will be quite different from past lighthouse conferences that have dealt with issues such as preservation, and fund raising initiatives, since it will primarily focus on the education of children for lighthouse preservation.

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Volunteer judges from the American Lighthouse ...

The logo of the conference “Kids on the Beam,” comes from the popular kids pages that appear every other month in Lighthouse Digest Magazine. This phrase “says it all,” according to Elinor DeWire, noted lighthouse author, designer of the Lighthouse Digest children’s pages, and member of the planning committee for the conference.

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The finalists in the poster contest for the logo ...

Sally Snowman, Chairperson of the ILC planning committee said that the end result of the conference will be a program that can be used by teachers worldwide to teach lighthouse history and preservation to children primarily in the 5th and 6th grades, however the program can also be easily adapted to fit other grade levels.

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The New Bedford Office of Tourism on the historic ...

The ILC Planning Committee has already gotten local kids involved by holding a poster contest among students from 21 schools in New Bedford. A winning design has been chosen that will be used on all posters, banners, brochures and souvenirs for the conference. Sixth grader Daryl Ramos of the Thomas R. Rodman School in New Bedford, MA created the winning design.

The students of New Bedford are now involved in an essay-writing contest, “something that will be much harder to judge,” according to Art Motta, member of the ILC planning committee and Marketing and Tourism Director for the City of New Bedford.

The conference will include many workshops and presentations from numerous educators and lighthouse groups from around the country. A special treat for the children of the area during the conference will be a helicopter arrival by George Morgan, “The Flying Santa of the Lighthouses,” who in real life actually looks like Santa Claus. Morgan is the president of the Friends of the Flying Santa a nonprofit group that has been keeping alive a tradition that began with Bill Wincapaw dropping presents to New England Lighthouse keepers back in 1928.

The United States Coast Guard has also been active with planning the Conference. The Admiral in charge of the First Coast Guard District is expected to address the conference on the opening night, a Coast Guard buoy vessel will be on hand for tours, and the United States Coast Guard Band will perform a concert that will be open to conference attendees and the public free of charge.

The first 100 people to sign up for the conference will be given a boat trip to Boston Lighthouse, America’s first light-station. Other attendees will be offered a cruise on the Ernestina, a 105-year-old ship that brings to life maritime history and education to students of all ages, plus a walking tour of the city once known as “The Whaling Capital of the World.”

New Bedford is an authentic seaport city with a large fishing fleet and working waterfront. Herman Melville shipped out of New Bedford in 1841; an experience that inspired him to write Moby Dick. The narrated walking tour covers the 13-block historic district, which includes The New Bedford Whaling Museum, and the Whalemans Chapel (Seamen Bethel) made famous in the movie version of Moby Dick. The New Bedford Whaling Museum houses the world’s largest collection of whaling artifacts, including a ship model so large you can actually climb aboard! New Bedford also has an excellent art museum, fire museum and many shops and galleries that attendees can tour on their free time. Attendees to the conference will also be able to view the City’s three newly restored lighthouses and a lightship that is now undergoing restoration.

According to Tim Harrison, president of the non-profit, all volunteer American Lighthouse Foundation, based out of Wells, Maine, “This may well be the most important lighthouse conference of our time.” The reason, he says, is that, “All the work and advancement made in recent years to restore and save historic lighthouses will have been in vain if we don’t start now to teach our children why it is important to save and preserve our lighthouses and their history. Most people don’t realize that without our excellent system of lighthouses and the men and women who served bravely at them. We never would have grown to be the great nation that we are today. Also by studying lighthouses, one can learn more about American history than from any other subject.”

William Collette, an ALF volunteer and treasurer of the planning committee for the conference, said the historic event is being put on wholly through donations of private and corporate sponsors. Collette said, “It’s easy to raise money to sponsor a sporting event or for national emergencies, but for some reason corporate America sometimes forgets that organizations like ours need money to help preserve our nation’s history.” He went on to say, “It’s been shown that a nation that does not study and preserve its history will soon be a nation that is lost. One of the first public works acts of the First Congress of the United States was the creation of the Lighthouse Service. Without a good system of lighthouses to provide for the safe and steady flow of commerce our nation might not have developed as it has, with a way of the life that most people in the world have yet to experience.”

Harrison said ALF still needs to raise an additional $50,000 to cover the expenses of the conference. Volunteers are hoping that enough corporate sponsors and private donations will come forward to defray the costs.

Donations can be sent to International Lighthouse Conference, c/o American Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 889, Wells, Maine 04090. Registration forms for the conference will be available at www.LighthouseFoundation.org

This story appeared in the March 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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