NEW ULM (AP) -- The Civil War camp may be make-believe, but the screaming is real.
''Eyes forward!'' yelled Chuck Kind to 60 kids trying to master the nuances of military marching. ''I want that person in front of you to scream in pain because your eyes are burning a hole in his head!''
Moments earlier, Kind, of North Mankato, had gotten in the face of young marcher who erred.
''You screwed up the whole company! The whole company was off because you didn't follow directions!''
Recently, Kind and fellow Civil War soldier re-enactors did plenty of high-decibel haranguing at Fort Union Civil War Camp, where youths 11-17 received a hands-on taste of circa-1862 military life.
The adult re-enactors were immersing the campers in a six-day foray into Civil War-period life that included everything from a soldier's typical meal of hardtack and salt pork to lessons on the social graces of life in 1860s America.
The camp is in its sixth year at Flandrau State Park outside New Ulm. It was booked solid by March and this year included youths from seven states who paid $375 each to live in barracks-style cabins, learn about the Lincoln era and get yelled at like the raw recruits they are emulating.
Chandra Baker said she got an early-morning earful for having footwear askew beside her bunk.
''We had barracks inspection, and my shoes were crooked,'' said the 12-year-old from Mankato, who shrugged off the yelling as just part of the camp experience.
One of the camp leaders, Mankato teacher Arn Kind, said the youths are told what to expect before the first order is loudly delivered.
''We sit them down and have a real long talk. We tell them, 'We will bark at you and you must understand that it's just role-playing. Your sergeants really love you.' If we didn't have that first talk, most of them would want to quit after the first day.''
But he said only two campers out of 300 bolted. Moreover, letters from former campers' parents reveal something camp leaders hadn't set out to do: mold character.
Arn Kind said the camp's intent is to promote a historical and educational experience, but feedback from participants and their families indicate that kids return to their homes with more maturity and self-esteem.
Mike Webster, a 17-year-old from Arden Hills, is in his fourth year at the camp. As such, he and other ''veterans'' are assigned the rank of corporal.
Webster, a Civil War buff, said he learned of the camp through a newspaper item and plans to make the lessons he's learned pay off when he joins the Army.
''This has helped me develop coping skills because they're always yelling at you,'' he said.
Actually, the woofing is only one part of a camp experience that includes discussions about the war's causes, firing muskets loaded with blanks and hearing various speakers in period garb describe various aspects of 19th-century life.
The group also spends a night at Fort Snelling and takes a day trip to nearby Fort Ridgely Historical Center, where they learn that Minnesotans of that era were involved in simultaneous conflicts -- the Civil War and battles with the Dakota.
But the highlight of the week for most campers is the surprise battle that's sprung on them. Kind said the campers are taken to a farmstead, where they're told to form a skirmish line and march across a field.
The kids think they're just practicing a battle maneuver but, unbeknownst to them, about a dozen adult Confederate re-enactors lie in wait. And when the rebels rise up and lay on a blank-cartridge volley of musket fire, Kind said the kids are too stunned at first to respond.
But then their training takes over and they raise their wooden mock muskets to return fire -- sometimes in century-jumping ways.
''One year, a kid pointed his musket and started making noises like it was a machine gun,'' Kind said.
Meanwhile back on the marching ground, kind words remain in short supply.
''Stop looking at the ground!'' a sergeant boomed. ''I promise you, your feet are not going to leave your legs!''
''This is elementary! We worked on this yesterday and we're still trying to teach it!''
But after a while, small victories emerge and the sergeant-re-enactors are quick to bark praise.
''Looking good, looking good!'' a sergeant yelled before the group stopped for a decidedly un-Civil War lunch of pizza bread, applesauce and brownies.
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