It’s summer! Okay, you in the northeast may be wondering, but I can assure you that the southeastern and southwestern U.S. knows that the summer solstice is right around the corner. For those of us with children 6-18 this means school’s about to release, and we’ve got to get crackin’ to find activities for our brood.
If you are looking for an aviation, space or just science/technology themed summer camp you are in luck. AOPA has a great starting list you can find right
here in the “Let’s Go Flying” section of the AOPA.org web site. There you’ll find two dozen possibilities, ranging from day camps staged at museums and airports to full-blown overnight experiences. Some of the stars of the list include the Experimental Aircraft Association’s EAA Young Eagles Academies, which run just before and during EAA AirVenture in July. Not listed, but also a great option for middle-school and high-school age young women is EAA’s Women Soar camp, a four-day aviation learning experience during AirVenture. If you are located in Central Florida there are a series of summer camps affiliated with Lakeland, Florida-based Sun ‘n Fun designed for all school-age children excited by aviation and space.
Is your camper 14 or older and ready to get some real stick-time? You might consider one of the many summer camps oriented toward getting those first flight hours. The Civil Air Patrol holds encampments for its cadets all over the U.S. each summer where they learn to fly gliders and hot air balloons (an excellent introduction to flight for any budding aviator). Several aviation-oriented universities offer summer flight training programs. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, campuses offer numerous summer camps that explore topics ranging from robotics and aviation to computers and cybersecurity. From the flying side of things the school’s Flight Exploration programs are designed to key into different phases of flight training, from pre-solo to post-solo cross-country phases of supervised flight. Parks College of St. Louis University offers a summer academy that includes UAV training.
There are faith-based camps (Mission Aviation Adventure Camps take place at six different airports across the country this summer) and museum-based camps, such as the Seattle Museum of Flight’s ACE camps. Really, something for every parent’s perception and child’s dream of aviation.
You might think that late May is too late to sign up for a summer adventure, and, if you were hoping for a scholarship or stipend to help pay camp expenses, you might be correct. That said, there are still many camps with openings for one or two youngsters just like yours.
One word of advice for those of you who have children who don’t come to you with suggestions of their own for what they’d like to do this summer—don’t wait for them. Reach out. I’d have never thought of taking flying lessons on my own, and look at me. Aviation has permeated my entire life. They don’t know what they don’t know, I say. It is up to us to reach out and educate. Even if your kids don’t turn into pilots, astronauts or aerospace engineers, the time they spend at these summer camps will turn them into sky-lovers, the kind that look up fondly at the sound of an airplane overhead; the kind that will tell their congressman to support their local airports, and a free and open general aviation system for all.