Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flying Circus

What a wonderful weekend!

All weekend, the temperatures were in the high seventies, and even the low eighties for part of the day--and not a cloud in the sky! This made it the perfect weekend for the Flying Circus Camp-O-Ree in Bealeton, Virginia.

Eddie and I went on his very first boy scout camp-out, and what kismet for Eddie! Eddie has loved many things through his life, but the one thing he has consistently loved, no matter what, is airplanes! For all the past week, he's been playing on his Flight Simulator, plotting courses from LAX to IAD and back. So, how wonderful was it that his very first camp-out is at an air show? And his very first merit badge was in Aviation!

Eddie and I set out after work on Friday evening, packing the troop's trailer full of sleeping bags, food and tents. We had about 20 boys going, along with me, Kevin, Charles (alumni from Pack 39) and Jim and Mike (the Assistant Scoutmaster and the Scoutmaster).

Late Friday, we arrived at the airfield, and set up camp. The boys were not allowed to have dinner until their tents had been pitched and the trailer was all unloaded. Then, well after 11 o'clock, we all hit the sack for a very busy day on Saturday.

On Saturday, the boys split up into two groups: those working the Space Exploration merit badge, and those working the Aviation merit badge. Unfortunately, each badge lasted all day, so the boys could not earn both at this event. Eddie didn't mind, since he really wanted to focus on the aviation merit badge. The badge required detailed learning about all aspects of aviation: the forces of thrust, drag, lift, and gravity; what all the airport systems are (beacons, runways, tower communications, etc.); the various instruments in the airplane and how to use them; plus hands-on model building.

Eddie and I also had the privilege of riding in an open cockpit biplane! We rode in a vintage 1920's WACO biplane! How cool is that?! Eddie was very excited, and not in the least bit nervous! (Though he didn't care for the loud noise much--I should have brought some earplugs for him.)

About lunchtime, the kids got a break from all the merit badge work and got to enjoy the Flying Circus air show. The video below captures all the events, from the first planes we saw, to the flight we took in the biplane, to the airshow, and concluding with the campfire ceremony of Saturday night.

After the show, the boys resumed their merit badge work until it was time for dinner. After dinner, the boys were treated to a campfire ceremony with a local Venture crew brass band performing various show tunes. After this, we adjourned for the night. I immediately hit the sack, as I was dog-tired. But Eddie and his friends were still charged up, so they headed over to the airfield, where they were showing Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines on a big screen in the middle of the field. The boys didn't get to sleep until after eleven again!

This being boy scouts, it's a lot different from cub scouts. The boys are expected to do everything for themselves. Everything. This includes putting up their tents, making their food, cleaning up, and getting water. Everything. It was hard for me, as a cub scout leader, not to get in there and start barking orders. At one point, Mike, the scoutmaster, had to come over and help me to give up "control." That was what this camp-out was all about for me--giving up control--and letting Eddie take the wheel a bit.

And you know what? He did great! He is really growing up, and becoming very responsible.

So, if you get the chance, go check out the Flying Circus in Bealeton, Virginia. It is open to the public almost every Sunday between May and October. They give rides and have an airshow every weekend. It's definitely worth checking out! We had a blast!!

© Copyright 2005-2014, Scott E. Harris. All Rights Reserved.
Please do not reproduce or copy without the permission of the author.