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ACE camp draws high school students for fifth year
Kesha Williams
July 22, 2013

ACE camp Summer School isn’t the only reason young people are strolling about campus. For the fifth summer, the Aviation Science program hosted an Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy Program, better known as ACE camp.

ECSU is one of many sites across the nation to hold the camps that give youths a glimpse into the aviation industry. The Aviation Science Program at ECSU holds a coed ACE camp and an all-girls camp for high school students. Dr. Anthony Sharp, director of the Aviation Science Program, said there are four sites in North Carolina but ECSU has a residential component. Participating students experience campus life while attending for the week-long camp.

The coed program was held June 23 - 28 and the all-girls camp was held July 14 – 19. The camps draw participants from local schools and the community at large. Youths who have long been interested in aviation and those who are just exploring newfound career options enroll. Sharp said he’s just happy to see young people learning about one of the most promising industries in the world—aviation.

“This is a good camp and the students speak favorably of it. We are not trying to make all these young people aviation professionals but they will certainly know more about aviation than when they came,” Sharp said.

“We were happy to welcome one of our camp counselors who was a student in the ACE camp last year. She graduated from Currituck County High School and enrolled at ECSU in January as an aviation science major. She was happy to meet our students this summer and tell them what a good time she had last year.”

Caitlin Wester and other counselors are needed to assist ECSU faculty who lead the youths on trips to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, regional and international airports, to municipal airports, and more. The ACE Camp youths also took flights with licensed ECSU pilots at Elizabeth City Regional Airport.

They learn the history of those airports and hear motivational speeches from guest pilots. Wester said that same informative program in 2012 led her to abandon plans for a medical career and to select aviation as her college major. Fortunately, her high school offered an introductory to aviation course that prepared her for a college curriculum.

“I learned a lot about aviation last summer. I had an experience that girls my age didn't know was available. I also learned this wonderful institution, ECSU, is the only school in the UNC system that could offer such an amazing, (BS degree) program,” Wester said.

“I immediately changed my mind about what I wanted to do the day that Dr. Sharp took us flying. This year I am a councilor in the all-girls aviation camp and it makes me happy to tell the girls they will leave with a new perspective on aviation.”

The FAA publicizes the ACE academy, as well as each host site. There is a fee, $150, which includes room, board, travel expenses, class materials and flights. There are scholarships to assist students who qualify. Sharp said he is glad to see the camp becoming so popular they now have waiting lists.

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