Bremerton, Wash.-based Kitsap Aviation Squadron partnered with Teen Reach Adventure Camp in July to give teens in foster care their first taste of general aviation. The flying club used its Cessna 172N and 182H to fly 24 foster kids and 23 counselors and staff members on 16 flights over two Fridays.
The idea to partner with Teen Reach Adventure Camp came from club member Mark Berney, a pilot for SkyWest Airlines who had served as a counselor for the camp in the past, said Kitsap Aviation Squadron President Steve Charbonneau. “An owner of a boat manufacturing plant in Bremerton had provided some boat rides in the past years, but that was no longer available,” he said. “Mark presented this to our club last year and asked for volunteer pilots to fly our two airplanes on for the first days of the two camps.” Kitsap Aviation Squadron did 20-minute flights for the girl and boy campers, he added.
At the end of each group of flights, the campers were left with a fantastic experience and with broadened horizons, said Charbonneau. “After the flights, we answered many questions regarding what it takes to get a license and the scholarships available” to do it, he said. He added that the Bremerton Pilots Association has sponsored several teenagers.
It was a great opportunity to provide the foster kids with an activity they hadn't done before, introduce them to flight, and perhaps ignite a latent desire, said Charbonneau. “The pilots volunteered their time and personally paid for the planes at our club rates,” he said.
All the camp counselors and all the campers left those days with a positive view of general aviation, said Charbonneau, adding, “When asked who would become a pilot, four responded with a determined affirmative.”