Camp Quest 2017 ended on July 1st. Forty-seven campers and 18 staff members packed up their belongings on Saturday morning for a trip back home. It is always a busy week at Camp Quest and the day after is a good time to catch up on sleep. The members of the staff are without exception are unpaid volunteers that donate their time, money, and effort to make it an enjoyable sleep-away camp. The children are aged from 8 to 17. Most of the members of the staff are there with their children, and some are there with their grandchildren. However, five of the staff this year didn’t have children at the camp just the desire to see that the event was a success. It is our goal to help a new generation of scientists and freethinkers realize that there are others like themselves and, as it says in the camp song, it’s “Ok to be brainy”.
The food was great but since we’re not in a cell phone data coverage area, I have to take pictures so that I can enter what I eat into the food diary later. It turns out that the pictures are appreciated. Did you ever stop and consider how difficult it would be to be a camp caterer? Nowadays we have vegans, vegetarians, gluten, and GMO restricted diets. Let’s not forget lactose intolerance. Through it all Matt, our caterer, got us fed and satisfied at every meal. After the camp was over, the counselors and their kids all went down to Mogie’s Mongolian Grill in Prescott to have a nice dinner before pushing on to home for a hot bath and clean sheets.
Camp Quest is all about the kids. There are a variety of activities and I imagine that if I were a young camper I’d have a difficult time selecting from the variety of activities. There are the activities that all campers enjoy, but there are also electives. As a camp counselor with technical experience, I tend to emphasize engineering and technology. During the first year, I provided the kids the opportunity to build small rubber band powered airplanes. During the second year, we built Pine Car Racers. I had a PineWood Derby track and some kits. It was an enjoyable activity but only six campers elected to participate. I can’t blame them really. Summer camp is about summer camp opportunities. They only get two electives and they must choose only two things from a wide variety of fun events. The events include wilderness survival, archery, fishing, a trip to Mars, etc. I was amazed that I got six people to sign up to build a Pine Car Racer. During the third year, I knew that I had to make my elective exciting enough so that campers would choose it over the other electives. I chose “Tin Can Robots” made from upcycled materials. It was a great success but it was self-limited to 12 campers. This year, I decided to muster the resources for 24 campers to build Beetle Bots.
I’ve written about the Beetle Bots previously. They are simple free running robots that are built in four 45 minute sessions. The build requires double sided tape, heat shrink tubing, a dollop of hot glue, and soldering. The shells were purchased from an electronics surplus house and most of the necessary switches, battery packs, and motors were purchased over the year from Ebay and Amazon in bulk to keep the costs down. If you’d like to build your own, you can buy a complete Beetle Bot kit online for $35.
Once again, I enjoyed my time at Camp Quest. I’m tired now and I hurt all over but looking forward to the next time when I get to load up my truck for another Camp Quest adventure in the high forests of Arizona.