Club Holds RC Camp

Written by John Griffen In the Air As seen in the October 2017 issue of Model Aviation.

John Griffen of the Rend Lake RC Club, located in Ina, Illinois, shared some information about an RC camp that his club held for local youth. I want to share a little back story for how this came about. When I was younger, I remember finding out that there was a local RC club holding regular meetings in town. I was only 10 or 11 at the time, but nonetheless wanted my parents to take me to one of these meetings. The day came and my parents drove me to the meeting site. They patiently waited in the parking lot as I went in. Before the meeting started, a couple of members said hi and asked my name and that was about it—as they started and ended their meeting. I attended a couple more meetings and it was much the same—never really being welcomed or introduced to the hobby!

So I will state it now: don’t you think for a minute that kids don’t remember first impressions! I have told myself over the years that when the time was right, and if the opportunity presented itself, I would make every effort to help introduce kids to the RC hobby! Now, some 30 years later, that’s exactly what we are doing here at the Rend Lake RC Club in southern Illinois! In our club’s May blog post, we announced that Rend Lake College and its president, Terry Wilkerson, had given the club great news in October 2016 that a new RC flying field would be constructed on the east side of campus! This led to a great new working relationship with the college. During this meeting, the topic of how the college does summer camps for kids every year came up and Terry asked if we could make an RC camp happen. Just like that, the opportunity presented itself! With it settled that the club would do a camp, the real work began. Lots of reading on AMA’s website led to calling AMA District VI Vice President Randy Cameron. From that conversation, an AMA Take off And Grow (TAG) grant was pursued. It was written for two Apprentice S airplanes and two buddy-box setups that would be used for the club’s open houses and, of course, RC kids’ camps.

In late March, the club received the news that it had been awarded $500 through a TAG grant to cover radios and a couple of spare batteries. Because it wasn’t enough to also cover getting the Apprentices, Randy stopped in Mount Vernon, Illinois, to personally present the Rend Lake RC Club with two Apprentice airplanes—filling the needs for the camp and open houses. AMA also sent a box of goodies to go to the camp. In it were balsa rubber band-powered Sky Streaks, foam plate gliders, Model Aviation magazines, and much more! RC Kids Camp took place June 5-8, 2017. What an exciting four days! Here is a breakdown of what we did for the first RC Kids Camp: Day 1: All materials were gathered to build a Flite Test Sparrow glider. With nine kids in the camp, this took a little more than two hours to complete. During the build, we also explained control surfaces and the effects of their movements.

When the gliders were complete, we had a lesson on center of gravity (CG) and balancing. That left just enough time to go outside and practice throwing the gliders and adjusting elevators and the CG. Day 2: We picked up where we left off and finished adjusting the gliders. With that complete, we started building balsa Sky Streak rubber band-powered airplanes from AMA. Kids assembled their models and the club members assisted them by adding the dihedral to the wings and using CA to secure them in place. With the gliders and Sky Streaks complete, we headed off to an indoor sports complex for distance and longest flight contests. Day 3: Today we started on RC. The kids were split into two groups. One group went to the indoor sports complex where they were taught how to fly a Blade Inductrix quadcopter—first by sight, then by monitor, and finally by flying with goggles.

The other group stayed at the flying field, where they received a lesson about control surfaces and stick movements on the radio. After that was complete, we began flying the club’s trainers using buddy-box systems. Campers were given control on straight passes to learn how to fly level. Their second time up was working on coordinated turns, and their last time in the air was flying a complete circuit. Day 4: Nothing but lots of flying! We tried to get every kid as many flights as possible in the three-hour camp timeframe. Before the youngsters were picked up, each received a “First RC Flight Certificate.” The club’s first RC Kids Camp was a huge success and we look forward to next year. The key to it all was the members who volunteered their time to help! Without them, this camp would be hard to pull off! So, a big thank-you to the following Rend Lake RC Club members: Dave Black, Bob Trober, Phil Bean, Cliff Christensen, and Al Jones. To see all of the pictures taken during the week of RC Kids Camp, visit —John Griffen

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I sure wish I had something like this back in the day.

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