SHAW AIR FORCE BASE — A group of campers from the Celebrate Freedom Foundation toured Shaw Air Force Base on July 5.
The group visited units including the precision measurement and equipment laboratory, weapons standardization, explosive ordinance disposal, the weather flight, aerospace physiology, the control tower, and the 55th Fighter Squadron. The students had the opportunity to see the 20th Fighter Wing’s F-16 Fighting Falcons, altitude chamber, and a robot display with EOD among other things.
"Shaw Air Force Base was honestly the most impressive field trip that we’ve been on, especially from some of the campers’ perspectives," said Morgan Fields, the foundation’s executive director. "It was great to see the entire base. The behind-the-scenes tour was a great way for them to really understand what the Air Force is about."
Jarrett Brooks, a student in the program, said the airmen were very nice.
"They were extremely informative and they (always) knew what they were doing," he said.
Members of the 20th FW were also involved in the camp’s career night which followed the final base tour on July 5. Members of Shaw’s Company Grade Officers Council as well as recruiters from the 337th Air Force Recruiting Squadron were present to discuss career opportunities within the Air Force with the students.
"I thought the night was a great way for the top students in South Carolina to see some of the opportunities they have if they decide to choose a life in technology," said 2nd Lt Kaitlin Habermeyer, the 20th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels management flight commander. "The students seemed very eager to learn more about the Air Force and other futures in the technical world. I’ll be very excited to see what the future holds for the students and hope to see a few of them ’go blue.’"
The summer camp itself was a week-long, in-residence program held at the University of South Carolina in Columbia that ran from July 15 to 20. The camp was an initiative of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation as a part of its Student/School Opportunities and Rewards project, also known as SOaR. Project SOaR is an academic outreach program that supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses in middle and high schools and provides skills and competencies needed in the global workplace.
"The camp is another part of the state’s aeronautics and aviation initiative to get more companies into the state and also to build a sustainable work force," said Fields.
"In order to compete in today’s world and draw in the industry that’s needed in not only this state but the nation, we need to have young men and women who are capable and have the skills to be able to perform the tasks necessary in those high-tech manufacturing firms," said John Lenti, CEO and chairman of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation.
According to Lenti, the camp supports these needs in a two-fold approach. First, it reinforces that the students’ studies in calculus, physics, chemistry and engineering related subjects are truly important and second, it makes students aware of the possible careers that are going to be available to them as they progress through high school and college.
"I was very elated that the 20th Fighter Wing stepped forward to show these young men and women what the Air Force is providing in not only possible career fields, but what it takes to defend a nation," said Lenti. "It gives you an idea of the skill sets that are not only needed by the guys and gals who fly the $38 million aircraft, but also the ones who make sure that it flies."
"It’s been one of the most amazing weeks of my year, if not the past 10 years," said Brooks. "Whereas I had doubts before as to my aviation career, after coming to this camp I’m more driven than ever before to become a pilot and achieve my goals."