MEDFORD—There’s one summer camp in South Jersey that encourages kids to fly high — literally.
Aerospace Camps at the Flying W Airport in Medford give kids, ages 7 to 11, hands on experience in areas like airplane design, physics of flight, the history of aviation and more, all taught by certified teachers who work in the field, said Nancy MacPhee, program director. What makes this camp different than others, she said, is that kids are having so much fun they don’t even know they are learning. The teachers all hail from some part of the aerospace industry, like the Air Force or are engineers.
“We hit core curriculum standards for elementary grade levels and the kids don’t even realize it,” she said. “We teach things like mapping and they are learning at the camp — we sneak that in — but the uniqueness of it being held at the airport makes them forget that.”
Even though kids are learning, activities like helicopter flight simulation and rocket building keep their minds focused on the fun aspects of the aerospace industry, MacPhee said. Where most camps focus on general recreation, she said, children who sign up for this camp usually have an interest in flight.
“It’s more project-focus than rec camps. Kids who sign up — this is what they want to be, this is their passion. They stay focused on it. They want to fly,” she said. “We had one kid who came back every year and is now a pilot working on an aerospace degree.”
There are three sessions of the aerospace camp: July 28 to Aug. 1, Aug. 4 to 8, and Aug. 11 to 15. All sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Flying W Airport, 60 Fostertown Road in Medford. The cost per child is $300 and includes healthy snacks, lunch and beverages, Flyit Simulator, all hands-on curriculum, supplies, speakers and field trips, MacPhee said. Enrollment is limited to 20 students per session and there is still room for all weeks.
Extended care is available for an additional $15 each day, she added, and that includes swimming at the pool at the airport.
For youth interested in flying but can’t attend the camp, a group of volunteer pilots from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) offers free introductory flights on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon during the weeks the camp is going on. The program, called Young Eagles, was launched in 1992 to give interested young people, ages 7 to 17, an opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane, MacPhee said.
“These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers,” she said.
Fight availability is open to the public on a walk-in basis and is subject to suitable weather and the availability of volunteer pilots and aircraft, she said.
MacPhee is also looking for volunteers to help during camps and throughout the year, MacPhee said.
“I am starting a volunteer list for next year and always welcome new volunteers because we run Aerospace Days throughout the year as well,” she said.
Volunteers must be 14 years or older and must commit for a full week. In return, they get experience in counseling and gain knowledge about the Aerospace industry, MacPhee said. If they volunteer for a camp, they get community service hours toward graduation as well as a free airplane ride and swimming after camp.
To register for the camp, learn more or to volunteer, visit aerospace4kids.com or call 609-351-4341.