Here a student at last year’s Camp Falcon flies a Navy Blue Angel kite during Kite week, which kicks off this year’s camps on June 6 and 8. Courtesy file photo
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
The school year is almost over in the area, and young people everywhere are looking forward to having some summer fun.
For eight weeks in June and July, Mid-America Air Museum will be helping in that endeavor, as the museum will host its annual Camp Falcon for kids ages 8 to 12, and for children age 4 to 7, and on the wings of a successful first year, Camp Sparrow is back for children ages 4 to 7.
Camp instructor Michele Stoddard said there are plenty of activities planned for this year’s classes, including a visit from a pilot as well as a former vet who now works for the Liberal Police Department.
“(The veteran’s) are going to come talk to us about gliders that has the wings from when he was in the Army from parachute gliding,” she said. “He’s going to bring those in and show some of the training from that. That’s something unique and something we can learn from history with.”
Rockets are always popular with young people, and appropriately, Stoddard said this year’s rocket session for both Sparrow and Falcon will take place during the week America celebrates its independence.
“We plan on having lots of rockets up,” she said. “That’s always a big week.”
Stoddard is particularly excited about the expansion of Sparrow from four to seven weeks this year.
“Last year was the first time that we ever did Sparrow,” she said. “We had enough interest and enough involvement that we were able to move it from four to seven weeks.”
Stoddard said both Falcon and Sparrow are not set in normal classroom environments, and the classes are designed with fun in mind.
“We go out into the museum,” she said. “We go to the hot air balloon machine. We talk about how it works. We get to see the displays of the baskets there. We can actually point out that this is a one burner, this a two burner and really talk more about how they work and what they look like – hands on activities, getting to see things, experimenting to really motivate the kids to want to learn more and have fun and come back. We have a great air museum with lots of things to see. There’s always something new.”
Stoddard said the first year of Camp Sparrow was provided as a test with four classes chosen to see how successful the camp would be. She said that triumph allowed MAAM to add three sessions to the class.
“They got to do the balloons, the gliders and the rockets,” she said. “This year, they will get to experience powered flight, supersonic flight and space for the first time.”
Classes for Camp Sparrow begin on June 6 with Falcon following suit on June 7, with both camps focusing on kites in the first session. Stoddard said youngsters can sign up at any time throughout June and July.
“You can walk in right before class and sign up,” she said. “I’ve never had to tell a kid I didn’t have room. I’ve always made room for kids this age. Signing up just helps me make sure I’ve got enough supplies. Luckily, I’ve always had plenty.”
Stoddard said many younger kids came all four weeks of Sparrow, and those who did not make the first week made the second and ultimately finished the camp.
“The kids were having so much fun,” she said.
Stoddard said although sessions for Sparrow do not include quite as much in-depth information as Falcon, children in those age groups also learn, particularly the basics of flight.
“They’re not going to learn the history as much, and the names are not as important to them, but we try to get the principles involved,” she said. “They like the wind tunnel when we go down there and talk about that. Will they remember who it was that invented it? Probably not, but they’ll go home and tell their parents about how the paper stuck up on there and how the paper stuck up on the other side. They’ll be able to go through and show parents that they did learn even if they don’t come back and tell us a nice long name to go with it.”
Camp Falcon classes will take place in the mornings and afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays with seven sessions being covered. Two sessions will be available – one from 10 a.m. to noon and the other from 2 to 4 p.m. – and the camper may choose which is most convenient. Camp Sparrow will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays at the same time as Falcon.
“They can call the air museum at any time,” Stoddard said. “They can walk in right now, get a paper, fill out the form, $7 a week. They can pay by the week or the whole seven weeks. It’s pick and choose.”
Campers can register at MAAM, or call 624-5263 for further information. Advance registration is requested but not required, and children can enroll on the first day of class.
“If they can’t come all seven weeks, but they can attend four, we’d love to have them attend four,” Stoddard said. “You don’t have to be there all seven weeks to have fun and enjoy this program.”
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