You can’t go anywhere in the City of Tuskegee without being surrounded by history. Several young participants learned that and more.
Tuskegee Institute and Airmen National Historic Sites concluded its Junior Ranger Summer Camp, “Get Out and Do Something,” on July 27th. This learning exploration was conducted every Saturday during the month of July. Each two-hour session focused on the timeline of Tuskegee and its pursuit of excellence and self-sufficiency.
During the first two Saturdays, the Junior Rangers learned about the history of Tuskegee Institute (now University) and its founder Booker T. Washington. The Junior Rangers learned how under Washington’s leadership the students of Tuskegee of the late 1800’s and early 1900s made clay bricks and how those same bricks were used to construct the buildings on the campus. Some of those original structures still stand today.
Activities led by Park Guide Vester Marable included making bricks and learning to cultivate crops in the manner that George Washington Carver taught his students. Junior Rangers took part in a historic structures scavenger hunt on Tuskegee University’s campus.
Tours of the campus’ historical core allowed the Junior Rangers to appreciate the architecture of Tuskegee’s past and recognize the differences between the buildings of the late 1800’s and mid-1900s. The evidence of new construction on the campus showed the Junior Rangers of Tuskegee’s continued forward motion.
The second two weeks, the Junior Rangers received the full Tuskegee Airmen experience. The joy of model airplane building inspired many of the Tuskegee Airmen to dreams of flight. The Junior Rangers learned about the Tuskegee Airmen’s training regiments and took part in building historic model airplanes like the P-40 WarHawks and P-51 Mustangs that were flown during World War II. These activities were led by Ranger Robert Stewart, the coordinator for this year’s summer camp program.
On the final day of camp, the Junior Rangers earned airplane rides in Cessna 150 and 172 provided by the Black Pilots of America (BPA) at Moton Field. BPA Vice President John Hicks worked with Stewart to facilitate this event. The new Junior Rangers were also awarded the Junior Ranger Patch, Badge and Certificate of completion in addition to one hour of accredited flight time on the National Aviation register.
The Junior Rangers aging between 6 and 13 were excited beyond measure, having experienced this life changing event; one they will never forget. One of the Junior Rangers shared that because of his experience in flight, he will one day enlist into the Air Force. The parents were grateful for the wonderful introduction to Tuskegee and for its legacy and contributions to American history.