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Community Matters

An Interview with the Mentor: Spotlight on the Fort McMurray Historical Society with Tammy Plowman

June 25th, 2015

By Dawn Booth

Fort McMurray has a special place where imaginations run wild - a place where children can take a trip back into the past to a village locked in time. This place is Heritage Park and youth are welcomed to take part in historical programs facilitated by Fort McMurray Historical Society throughout the year.

According to the Fort McMurray Historical Society (FMHS), Heritage Park preserved “Fort McMurray and the region’s past for generations to come.” The park itself is home to a trapper’s cabin from the early 1900s, the Catholic Mission, Walter Hill’s Drugstore from the 1930s and much, much more.

The FMHS’s Office and Program Manager Tammy Plowman has been facilitating, creating and supervising the creation of educational programs throughout the year at Fort McMurray’s Heritage Park, shortly after she was hired in 2004.

Her dedication and mentorship has helped thousands of youth build lasting friendships and learn historical facts about the Wood Buffalo region for over a decade. She believes instilling history into children is important as it shows them the roots of the community and how it became what it is today.

Plowman is a mentor and takes the spotlight for this issue of Fort McMurray’s  Child Magazine to answer questions on the summer programs at Fort McMurray’s Heritage Park and how the programs throughout the year are helping our youth:                                                                                                                                                                                                             

How do the summer programs benefit the children of the Fort McMurray community?

Tammy Plowman: I believe it gives the campers a sense of our community and our rich history. We strive to be a more close-knit group by limiting our numbers and having a more personal experience with smaller adult to camper ratios. We work toward quality versus quantity.

How does the Fort McMurray Historical Society plan the annual summer programs?

Tammy Plowman: All of our camps start at different times. We have been running our Theatre Camp for 14 years now. This camp started before I was with the FMHS by Roseann Davidson and Maralyn Ryan, who is an actor, writer and director from Edmonton. Maralyn still instructs and directs this camp. We have been running the other camps for close to ten years in some sort of capacity. We have increased the number of camps we run through the years.

Tell me more about how you spend your time preparing the association, as the program manager.

Tammy Plowman: I am so lucky to have a great assistant, Kailey Barlow, as she helps me create the programs with the input of our summer students. Kailey and I are really a great team. We are always looking for new ideas and activities. We work hard at being sure our focus is keeping the FMHS mandate and vision in mind as we plan.  

What’s the cost to take part and how is it implemented into the programming?

Tammy Plowman: Because we have a variety of camps that are all different in their own unique way, we have a variety of prices of which is shown on the registration form found on our website.

What is the most rewarding feedback you have heard from the participants?

Tammy Plowman: I think the most rewarding thing is seeing the kids come back, year after year. Many campers “grow up” in our camps. I have seen that with all the camps, but very much so in our Theatre Camp. I have even had former campers come back as summer students and contractors. I also think the relationships developed often become lasting friendship and this is voiced all the time from the campers.

What are some life skills Fort McMurray youth gain from taking part?

Tammy Plowman: I think some skills would be team working, socialization, communication and friendships. I also think it teaches to give back to the community, as they see that many of the summer students are from Fort McMurray, many being born and raised here.

Why is getting children involved the Fort McMurray Historical Society important to you?

Tammy Plowman: They learn about the history of our region and that it is more than an oil town. I love seeing the campers grow up and give back to our community. Many of the summer students we hire are local people. Though some may be studying a higher level of education outside of the region, they always return home and have grown up in Fort McMurray.

How do you encourage youth to continue taking part, year after year?

Tammy Plowman: We always try to have relevant programming and camps to the time and the needs of our community, which is why we started our art courses and expanded our theatre camp. About six years ago, we started a puppetry camp, which has now developed into a junior drama camp to meet the needs of all the little actors in the area.

What can participants look forward to in the future at Heritage Park?

Tammy Plowman: Due to the June 2013 flood, the park has been closed since. However, through this all, we have continued providing our camp program and some of our school program in a limited capacity. This spring, summer and fall we will be completing the first phase of the rebuild. We have some very exciting plans that will definitely be enhancing the visitor experience and all of our programming. There will be restored historical buildings, new and updated exhibits and beautiful landscaping. We can’t wait to share the details.

To learn more about the Fort McMurray Historical Society or to register your child in an upcoming program, visit or drop by Heritage Park at 1 Tolen Drive.  

Each issue, Dawn Booth of Media Booth talks with the pros who are in-the-know with child-focused local community programs. If you’d like your organization or program featured in an upcoming issue of Fort McMurray’s  Child Magazine or would like to share a suggestion, contact Dawn at

Tags: boys, camps, event, girls

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