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NC-124 Shares Joy of Rocketry with Southmountain Children's Home

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Children from the Southmountain Children’s Home enjoy a weekend of building and launching model rockets, practicing military drill, and enjoying a good time in the great outdoors. Photo Credit: Ms. Barbie Emaus (click image to view full size)
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Hickory Composite Squadron organizes special weekend for foster children

6/12/2019––All eyes were on the sky during the weekend of 24-25 May 2019 as rockets streaked toward the heavens near Lake James. NC. The Hickory Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) joined the children of the Southmountain Children’s Home for a weekend of building and flying model rockets, practicing military drill, and enjoying a good time in the great outdoors.

In operation since 1903, the Southmountain Children’s Home is North Carolina’s first and only foster community. The goal of the Southmountain Children’s Home is “to begin a healing process for them in a loving environment supported by a wide array of self-esteem building, remedial education, and life skills enhancement programs.” 

The weekend event started with an opening formation on Friday afternoon. Southmountain residents were assigned to CAP elements. They stood at attention as the squadron’s Color Guard posted the Colors.

On Friday evening the group built model rockets. CAP cadets, ranging in age from 12 to 18, assisted Southmountain residents as young as 8 years old. Residents constructed rockets from kits, decorated them, and named them. Creativity was on display, with rocket names such as “Spitfire," “Nuclear Eye,” “The Falling Egg” and even “Bob Ross.” After a hot dog roast and s’mores around a campfire, the group gathered in the auditorium to watch “The Rocketeer” before all retired for the evening. The CAP cadets and some of the residents camped out under the stars.

Saturday began early with formation following reveille and the posting of the Colors. A legendary breakfast was prepared by 1st Lt Adam Roig that fueled all for the day's activities.

Cadets assisted residents in putting the finishing touches on their rockets. There were also lessons in map reading, robotics, drill and ceremony, and a drone demonstration. Mr. Adam Scott, Recreation Director for the Southmountain Children’s Home, then organized a kickball game for those who had finished their rockets. 

After lunch, the high point of the weekend arrived: the rocket launch. Southmountain residents and cadets launched the rockets they had built under the supervision of Maj Andrew Meranda, Commander of the Hickory Composite Squadron. Most rockets performed flawlessly, others…well they sure were entertaining! Cadets and residents cheered each other on as their rockets raced skyward.

Before the closing formation and the retiring of the Colors, awards were presented. There were awards for the rocket with the longest flight time, the most creative rocket, and the rocket that landed closest to the launch pad. C/Amn Nathan Smith won an Aviator Flight Bag for the longest flight. A Southmountain resident, J, won a prize for the most creative rocket named the “Bob Ross.”

Finally, in a CAP tradition, a Southmountain resident was named as an “honorary cadet.” The honorary rank of Cadet Airman was pinned on N, a young lady who showed great interest, an infectious smile, and a winning attitude.

Mr. Adam Scott, the Southmountain Children’s Home Director of Recreation, stated, “It has been a distinct pleasure to have the young men and women of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron and their talented Commanders and sergeants and families descend upon our South Mountain Children’s Home community with a perfect balance of playfulness, discipline, and good will these past couple of days. They organized a well-paced weekend of rocket-building, aerospace education, robotics, drill instruction, and joyful fellowship with 18 of our foster youth, among whom they found glad reception.”