This summer marks the fourth in which the Raymond Ratcliffe Transportation Museum in Pulaski will host free summer camps for county youngsters.
Ernie Wallace heads up the camp effort for the museum, which seeks through the camps to introduce the museum and the idea of transportation to local young people.
Wallace said the museum wants the camp to be available especially to local kids who will be spending the summer in town, and may not have the opportunity for travel out of town on vacation.
Wallace said the camps attracted only 12 youngsters the first year, but that doubled to 24 the next two years.
The first camp this summer will be July 17, 18 and 19 for kids kindergarten to third grade. It will be followed the next week – July 24, 25 and 26 for kids in grades four, five and six.
“Each year we do similar things with the kids, but we also try to add something new each year,” said Wallace.
“Last year we took the younger kids to Charlie Bopp’s farm to see chickens, sheep and cattle. Charlie also has an old Mack truck he has restored. The kids really enjoyed blowing its horn and climbing all over it,” Wallace recalled with a smile.
Wallace said one year campers went to the Wilderness Road Regional Museum in Newbern and the New River Valley Airport.
This year, Wallace said, the museum is teaming up with the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley and the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum in Wytheville.
Again this year the campers will be exposed to the library when Jena Hardy will come to the museum and read transportation-themed books to the kids. And this year campers will again go to the YMCA to swim.
Wallace said the first day of the young kids’ camp will be spent learning about the museum and transportation. Wally Brockmeyer will introduce youngsters to his father’s train set, and help them learn about the town and transportation.
“We want to get the kids to understand transportation is more than just their daddy’s car,” Wallace said.
On Tuesday, the campers will travel to Wytheville and the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum. Bolling was a former First Lady, married to President Woodrow Wilson and was a native of Wytheville.
Wallace noted that during one of the story times planned for the youngsters, the book “How The Sheep Helped Win The War” will be read. The book was co-authored by Joyce Covey and Farron Smith.
Wallace said on the way back to Pulaski, the campers will be treated to a picnic at Carter’s Park.
On Wednesday, the campers will enjoy crafts provided by the Fine Arts Center.
The next week, Wallace said the older kids on Monday will get a more detailed presentation by Brockmeyer on the train set and how it was built.
Tuesday, the older kids will go swimming at the YMCA and that night, depending on the weather, they will travel to Dublin to visit the Wysor Observatory.
Wallace said the Wysor trip will be the first camp event held at night.
The last day of the camp is Wallace’s favorite. It’s “Safety Day,” and takes place this year at Pulaski Middle School.
“In the past we’ve gone to Cool Springs,” Wallace noted.
Wallace said Pulaski Fire Marshal Todd Garwood and members of the Fire Department will be on hand, along with a crew from REMSI, members of the Pulaski Police Department, Lifeguard 11 and the Virginia State Police and one of their robots will be on hand again this year.
“We believe it’s important for young people to see the police, rescue and fire fighters as friends and not be afraid of them,” Wallace said.
Anyone wishing to have their child enrolled in the camps should contact Wallace at the museum 980-2307. Callers can leave a message for Wallace and he will return their call.
There is a 35 child limit for each camp, and Wallace said adults are welcome to participate with their child and help as chaperones.
An application for the camp must be completed. Copies are available at the museum and with this article.
Children are provided healthy snacks during the day, which runs from 8:45 a.m. until noon each day. Parents and guardians are urged to pick up their child by 12:15 each day of camp.
-By MIKE WILLIAMS