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Boy Scouts and scout leaders descended upon a air base Friday and are leaving at noon today. This one is hosted by service members at the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport, and common sights include F-16 fighter jets and M4 assault rifles.
Scouts from 27 troops comprising the Boy Scouts of America's Chinquapin District of the Black Swamp Area Council are spending the weekend camping.
But it isn't your average campout. This one is hosted by service members at the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport, and common sights include F-16 fighter jets and M4 assault rifles.
More than 250 Boy Scouts and scout leaders descended upon the base Friday and are leaving at noon today.
"We're focusing a lot of our stations on science, technology, engineering, and math," said 1st Lt. Jordyn Sadowski, an Anthony Wayne schools graduate. "It,s a great chance for them to interact with military members and really see who is protecting their freedoms. Every person here is essentially from this community. It's a really cool interaction that they're able to bond over."
Activities are designed to teach about the 180th Fighter Wing' its missions, and the numerous careers available throughout the Air National Guard. Scouts rotated throughout the base Saturday, stopping at stations about the propulsion and weapons elements, security forces, emergency management, aircrew flight equipment, and an up-close view of the wing's F-16 fighter jets.
The experience was especially thrilling for Craig Birkhold, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 46 from Napoleon. He flies planes every day, except his don't have missiles or bombs attached to them.
"This is the first time I've been able to come on the air base," Mr. Birkhold, a pilot for Delta, said. "In the past, I've always taxied by the front of the 180th Fighter Wing. I've always wanted to see what's here. It's really neat to see the backside of the military' what they have to offer, and all the support staff it takes to put one of the fighter jets into the air."
This is the first Boy Scout event the 180th Fighter Wing has ever hosted, part of the P4 initiative. When it was announced, Mr. Birkhold knew it would be something he and his son, Alex, who said he might consider the Air Force, would be interested in.
The event did not disappoint 12-year-old Alex.
"I think it's pretty cool, and fancy, and expensive," he said. "It's very clean. I like the runway the best."
"It's very clean. I like the runway the best."
Above' Senior Airman Aaron Corns helps Troop 177 scout Ryan Marks, 11, of Wauseon, shoot zombies with a laser gun. Above, Senior Airman Aaron Corns helps Troop 177 scout Ryan Marks, 11, of Wauseon, shoot zombies with a laser gun.
Daily events include a flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremony, which focus on military customs and protocol. The evenings are spent at the campsites with members of the 180th Fighter Wing — some of whom are former scouts — conducting customary scout programs.
Along with STEM guidelines, the Air National Guard hopes to pass along basic responsibilities of citizenship in efforts to help scouts and prepare for their roles as adults.
"It,s amazing that we get to come to the base, see the fighter planes," said Derek Etzler, 15, of Napoleon. "It's nice that the soldiers are allowing us to be hands-on with the weapons and being able to look at the aircraft. We get to learn and meet new scouts. It's overall very enjoyable."
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