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Students soared to new heights at STARBASE Swamp Fox summer camp

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amy Rangel
  • 169TH Fighter Wing

"Ready to launch!" shouts an instructor as the students take their mark and await the final countdown. With the press of a button, their mock rockets shoot flames and propel high into the sky above an open field on base. The students sprint out, hoping to catch their rocket as it descends with a parachute attached. Some leaping and rolling in the grass are successful, and some are not. Either way, there is laughter and cheers. 

The South Carolina Air National Guard wrapped up another fun-filled STARBASE Swamp Fox summer camp for 23 future innovators from June 20-23, 2023.  

STARBASE stands for Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration. 

It is a Department of Defense-sponsored program designed to get students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while they interact with positive role models on military installations.  

Dependents of the SCANG, the South Carolina Military Department, and active associates are eligible to apply for the camp each summer. 

For more than 20 years, the SCANG has hosted local students in grades 4th through 7th for a week-long learning adventure.    

In the 25-hour curriculum, students delve into the wonders of coding, robotics, and cutting-edge technologies shaping our world.  

STEM subjects can often intimidate students, so STARBASE offers a way for them to learn and have fun at the same time.  

"When they get here, it's a different atmosphere than school. It's a more laid-back atmosphere," said Stan Seabrook, a STARBASE Swamp Fox instructor and former SCANG Airman. "We're teaching in one sense, but we do more of inspiring. Our goal is to try and motivate these kids, so one day they will want to do jobs, professions, crafts, trades—something that's science, technology, engineering or mathematics related."  

One advantage that Seabrook pointed out is the early exposure camp participants receive in advanced STEM concepts for their age group.  

"The equipment they are exposed to here at this level, they probably get it in high school," said Seabrook. "The 3-D printing, computer-aided design stuff, even some of the robotics stuff. Those things aren't normally introduced until about 8th grade."  

STARBASE Swamp Fox positively impacts the local community by working with public, private, and home school educators.  

Seabrook explained that STARBASE Swamp Fox initiates the process by reaching out to multiple school district superintendents, who then connect them with schools within a 35-mile radius.   

"We coordinate with the principal and the teachers at that particular school," said Seabrook. "We try to find out what they may need assistance with in STEM.” 

Seabrook also expressed his pride in seeing the development and inspiration that evolves during the week. 

The students are tested before and after STARBASE, allowing the organization to gain insight into how the students learn and the program’s effectiveness. 

Shelia Phillips-Hicks, the director of STARBASE Swamp Fox summer camp, also sees this progress through positive written feedback from students.  

"They absolutely enjoy it! A lot of campers come back multiple times,” said Phillips-Hicks, emphasizing the enjoyment and enthusiasm shown by the students.