Scouts look to the stars during camp

Campers learn about the solar system using a large scale model.

For one week this summer, Cub Scouts from around the region used their imaginations to orbit the Earth and travel beyond.

From Monday, June 27 through Friday, July 1, 2016, Camp Oyo in Shawnee State Forest hosted the Simon Kenton Council Cub Scout Day Camp. Nearly 90 boys and girls attended the camp this year where, in addition to the usual fare of archery, swimming and other outdoor activities, they were treated to a week of flight history and space science.

Connie Ison – a retired engineer and current scout volunteer – guided the children on a journey that began with the very start of manned flight all the way through the space shuttle era and beyond. With daily experiments and projects, the scouts built models of the space shuttle, learned how spacesuits protect astronauts and how to make their own replicas of the lunar surface and more.

“For many of them, this camp is the only vacation that they’ll (Scouts) have,” Ison said.

One of the daily projects was a not-quite-to-scale representation of the solar system. Using a poster board sun, inflatable planets, some rope and their imaginations, the scouts got a glimpse of how vast our planetary neighborhood is. Each planet was labeled with their appropriate name, the size of the planet, its distance from the sun, average temperature and how long it takes for each planet to orbit the sun.

In another project, the Scouts used recycled two-liter bottles to construct models of a space shuttle. Ison provided a printed template for the Scouts to use, helping them to cut out and build the different outer components of NASA’s reusable spacecraft.

The camp curriculum was a part of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). According to the Boy Scouts of America website, S.T.E.M. is an initiative undertaken by the organization in an effort to help encourage a Scout’s interest in one or more of these fields. Citing a concern that the United States is falling behind in these fields, the organization hopes that early interest will better prepare young people for careers in these areas in the future.

Camp Oyo, which gets its name from what is believed to be the original Indian word for the Ohio River, was an idea born by Scout Executive and local businessman Harry Wagner in 1926. With the permission of Governor A. Victor Donahey, 30,000 acres of land were used to create the camp, which featured, among other things, a large play field and a 30-foot-by-60-foot mess hall. Since then, the camp has expanded and improved over the years, while hosting countless camps for Boy Scouts, 4-H groups and other organizations on the banks of Turkey Creek, about 15 minutes west of Portsmouth, off of State Route 125.