FLEMINGTON, N.J. – The search room in County Clerk Mary Melfi’s office might not appear to be a likely setting for summer camp, but that’s exactly what it is this week.
It’s the brainchild of Clerk’s Office staffers Sue Bennett and Faith Quikel, who brought their idea to Melfi: Why not have kids come in during the summer who would be interested in the information stored here?
“I told them I’d provide support for the program if they run it,” Melfi said. And so began this week’s pilot for a half-day, week-long Clerk’s Camp here, where volunteers also help run the pr0ogram.
This year’s camp includes students from High Bridge Elementary School. Working with teacher Lynn Hughes, students interested in the camp wrote essays to be considered for the program.
The brightly-lit room is where the history of things such as deeds, mortgages and marriages are recorded. Because the history of Hunterdon as a county goes back to 1714 – when the county also included much of what are now Morris and Mercer counties – so do the records.
And this is where you’ll find rising fifth-graders Chloe Sahulka her twin Bella Sahulka, and Layla Maravetz. Layla says she’s learning not just about deeds, but how to read and understand them. Bella said she’s working not only with the heavy old record books, but with computers to search more recent information. And the experience is helping her decode cursive writing.
As you might expect, children who would be interested in such information tend to be detail oriented. So Layla makes clear that she was named after the Eric Clapton song first recorded by Derek & The Dominos, and not the other way around. And Chloe points out that while she and Bella may be twins, Chloe is two minutes older.
Melfi said that based on the response to this year’s pilot, she plans to run the program again next year, and open registration up to students at other county schools.