My roommate, Andrew Sites, and I with our aircraft
Camp AMA 2015 was a one of the greatest experiences of my life, offering campers the opportunity to form long lasting friendships and to improve their skills as pilots. But before I continue, let me introduce myself. My name is Hunter Jones and I am a rising high school senior. I have been flying RC airplanes for the past five years. During my junior year, I started an RC club at my school with the hopes introducing my generation to this great hobby. I was then nominated for the AMA Youth Leadership Award and to my pleasant surprise was the overall winner. With this award, I was able to attend Camp AMA and experience one of the greatest weeks of my life.
The day of arrival is usually a pretty chaotic ordeal with campers pouring into the AMA headquarters, unpacking their gear and other items, but for me this was not the case. Instead, when I arrived there was nobody at the AMA. After some driving around I realized I had made a huge mistake. I thought check in was June 6th, instead it was June 7th. I had arrived a day to early, and much to my father’s dismay we had to rent a hotel room. I accidently turned what would have been a day road trip into an impromptu father son weekend.
The next day (the actual check in day) I went back to the AMA headquarters and was directed to the McCullough room to drop off my equipment and luggage. Upon arriving I met Jessy Symmes, the director of camp AMA, and was greeted with a warm welcome and a hug. She had everything under control and made the entire process a walk in the park. Soon more and more campers began to arrive and the room suddenly began to fill up with planes and equipment. Eventually you could barely walk from point A to point B without a plane being in the way. Even through all the chaos, Jessy still was able to make the process go very quickly and efficiently.
One of the biggest perks about the camp was getting to work with world class pilots such as RJ Gritter, Nick Maxwell and AC Glenn. Their expertise and flying skill helped every camper improve their modeling abilities. On numerous occasions one of the instructors would be with a camper working on improving their flying skills, or troubleshooting problems that arose with an aircraft. But more often than not, they were simply hanging out with everyone and being a good role model.
The instructors from left to right: Jonathen Eli, AC Glenn, RJ Gritter and Nick Maxwell
After the initial check in day, the rest of the week was a blast. We flew out of site one for the entire camp, which consists of a paved runway and a large pavilion. Day one was the worst day of the entire camp. It was a rainy and overcast day preventing us from doing very much flying. We attempted to fly twice, but ended abruptly each time when a storm cell rolled through both times. The second time I was flying my AJ Aircraft 93 inch Laser 230 when the storm rolled through. Needless to say I was soaked from head to toe and so was my plane.
Day number two was a significant improvement over the previous day. The weather was absolutely beautiful without a single cloud in the sky. This time we were able to fly all day without any fear of a storm rolling through, allowing everyone a chance to fly. We returned that night tired and sunburned, but were ready for the next couple of days ahead. Days three and four were almost identical to the second day in that we had pristine flying weather. Again, we were able to get a full day of flying. Nick Maxwell and RJ Gritter both did demos attracting a crowd of people every time they did so. Unfortunately for RJ, he destroyed his plane during his demo but was very gracious and humble. The fourth day was yet another perfect day to get a lot of flying in. However, we had something very special in store for us that evening. That day we packed it up early because we would be returning to do a night fly session. This was by far my favorite part of the entire camp. If campers weren’t flying, there was a bonfire and stereo setup so that campers could make s’mores and listen to music. Things got interesting once we started having a dance off competition and needless to say Nick Maxwell can hold his own on the dance floor.
Throughout each day of flying, if we weren’t up in the air we were socializing under the pavilion. The camp is not solely based on RC planes; many kids went simply to get to see some of their friends. The friendships made here can last a lifetime with almost everyone keeping in contact with each other via social media.
In conclusion, camp AMA 2015 was a huge success due to the hard work of Jessy Symmes and the AMA. Without their leadership and organization, something as special as this could never take place. This also would not have been possible without the countless sponsors and donors who contributed to make this camp a reality. I would encourage any kids who are eligible to go as this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.