What is Air Camp? Deadline for youth to apply is today

Career dreams take flight for youths at upcoming summer camp

DAYTON — Aviation career aspirations of southwest Ohio youths will again have a place to soar this summer thanks to an unusual summer camp experience offered by Air Camp.

The Dayton-area based summer camp for elementary through high school students provides rare, hands-on experiences to help them learn and experience career work in aviation and aeronautics.

Now in its 14th year, Air Camp takes full advantage of Greater Dayton’s many aviation-based resources – including tours and learning project work at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, James M. Cox Dayton International Airport and local private aviation companies – to introduce participants to wide array of career options.

There’s even an opportunity for teens to co-pilot a plane in mid-flight, said Shannon Coblentz, director of Air Camp operations.

“Air Camp exposes students to opportunities in careers that are directly and indirectly related to aviation and aeronautics,” during the week-long program that includes visits and learning at 40 Greater Dayton sites, said Coblentz.

The camp, which draws enrollment from students from the Greater Dayton, Springfield and Cincinnati area, also includes grade school and high school students learning through STEM-based lessons and projects.

Participants in the week-long camp stay in a University of Dayton residence hall and are transported to dozens of sites for their learning and fun.

And the fun of exploration is a key component of the camp, said Coblentz.

“We only have STEM teachers but we are very aware that students don’t want to come to a traditional school setting in the summer. We try to engage them in ways that help them build their confidence and spark their curiosity … to help them explore these different fields through really, really fun activities.”

These include, for middle school and high school students, a “fly day” where students are invited to take control for a short time – under the supervision of an adjacent, adult co-pilot – of a plane in flight.

That navigation pilot can take control of the plane at moment’s notice, said Coblentz, but “the student is given permission to participate in that flight as they feel comfortable.”

More down-to-earth activities include learning how airports work – including following a test bag through baggage processing – and other aviation-related jobs like airplane mechanics. Aerial drone operations and other flight-related fields are also covered with the help of instructors from UD, Sinclair Community College, Wright State University and private aviation companies.

Air Camp is funded via donors, including the U.S. Air Force, private companies such as United Airlines, federal grants and individuals.

Deadline for applying to Air Camp is April 15 and more information, videos and photos regarding the camp’s offerings, schedule and curricula is available to parents at Air Camp’s website.

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