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Last updated: April 19, 2008
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Kiwanis Scout Camp (10/16/2010)

Before I even start to talk about the Kiwanis outreach I would like to thank Todd Schweim for agreeing to come and help out. It would not have worked well at all with just me. Also, Todd said this was his first 'group build' outreach. I wouldn't have known it from looking at him working with a group of Cub Scouts. The guy is a 'natural'. Twist his arm into coming to all the build sessions you can.

Now, back to the outreach itself. I arrived at the Kiwanis Scout Camp at about 7 pm Friday evening. Todd was already there. The only thing missing were the Scouts. We had been told 7 pm for the build session, but it turns out 7pm was actually the time the scouts were all supposed to arrive for an over night 'Space Camp'. Over the next 15 minutes a number of Boy Scouts started showing up. NOW all we needed were rockets to build! It turns out the group leader for the Space Camp and his Cub Scout group were running late. We made our way out to the cabins and camping areas and for a minute I thought we would be building outside, by flashlight. However, there was a pavillion building out there as well and that was where we set up. At this point it's about 7:45 and we are still waiting on rockets.

A couple of Astronomy graduate students from U of M arrived around this time and filled in by passing out some star charts and taking the boys down in groups to do a little star gazing. They had brought a couple of 6" telescopes with them.

At 8:30 the Cub Scouts and the rockets both show up and we started building around 8:45 PM. Things started going pretty smoothly from that point on. The Cubs built first and the Boy Scouts came in at about 9:30 and started. Todd led a step by step build session for the Cub Scouts (building Quest StarHawks) and then I got the Boy Scouts started on their Quest (Novia kits, I believe) rockets. I had to leave at 10 PM to get back home for an 11 PM work committment but Todd stayed and finished up with the scouts. I heard they finished at about 11. Despite the delayed starts both build sessions went well. The Scouts, scouting leaders and other adults couldn't have been more friendly or enthusiastic. I really enjoyed helping the kids build rockets and I believe Todd had a good time, too.

Saturday morning I azrrived back at the Kiwanis camp a little before 9:30 am to set up the launch area. Our 'field' for launching was the 2nd smallest I have ever used to launch anything bigger than a Micro Max rocket.The camp is on the banks of the St Croix river, and that means there are a lot of trees. Our little 150 ft (or less) diameter circle of a clearing was surrounded by trees. Fortunately, all of the rockets used streamer recovery and we only flew with A motors.

The scouts arrived at the launch area a little after 10 am. I brought along some examples of various types of rockets (staged, glider, scale, cluster, odd roc, etc) to show them and discussed the various sizes of Quest/Estes motors and what the motor designations meant. While I was doing this Todd was showing the adults how to install the igniters and how to prep the rockets. When we got started Todd handled issues at any of the six pads as well as repair issues while I acted as RSO/LCO. My brand new six pad controller has been giving me problems and sure enough it failed after launching just a couple of rockets. Fortunately I also brought along my four pad controller as a backup. We switched to that and all of the scouts were able to successfully launch their rockets. We lost a couple of rockets in the surrounding trees but I think we did pretty darn good considering the small clearing size and how the breeze picked up a little as we launched.

All of the 8 Cub Scouts and 21 Boy Scouts who built and flew rockets seemed to have had a great time. Everyone successfully flew their rockets. Only a couple of the rockets were actually lost to the trees.This was one of the 'harder' outreaches I done in a number of ways - late starts, distance to drive, small launch area, equipment problems. However, these minor inconveniences didn't prevent me from having a fantastic time helping the kids.

[Buzz McDermott]

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