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'Little Pisgah' Brings Vision to Forgotten Camp
'Little Pisgah' Brings Vision to Forgotten Camp
Posted on 02/05/2020
A crumbling campground makes for a perfect learning laboratory for Career & Technical Education students in Mr. Orange's Drone Technologies class.By: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

The former Camp Woodson sits on 274-acres in Fairview, North Carolina.Deep in the forest of Fairview, North Carolina, rests a beautiful 248-acre camp that hasn’t seen campers for over six years. Among the six-acre lake and seven miles of hiking trails sits a recreational ghost town. A number of small, locked cabins feature plywood-covered windows, and an open pavilion and former lodge now house old lumber and abandoned appliances. It’s a hopeful space, but needs a vision to thrive once again. Fortunately, a vision was exactly what teachers and students with Buncombe County Schools’ Career & Technical Education (CTE) program provided.

“Our objective is to show students what careers they could potentially pursue, from engineering and construction to movie-filming, and give them that relevant, real-world experience,” said Charles D. Owen High teacher Mr. Craig Orange. “That’s what we’re doing here today.”

On a frigid morning in January, 12 students in Mr. Orange’s Drone Technologies class gathered at the former Camp Woodson with a mission. They formed a semi-circle around a small remote-controlled aircraft as the propellors whirred to life, pushing the craft upward above the tree line. Their aim was to capture a series of aerial photographs to assemble accurately scaled maps for construction design by carpentry students. Creating these maps is the first step in a multi-year plan to open the camp to visitors once again.

Mr. Craig Orange discusses a drone mapping mission with students in his Drone Technologies class at C.D. Owen High.“Not only is there field work involved in a mission like this, but there is also a lot of post-processing of the data,” explained Orange, who worked in civil engineering for 30 years prior to teaching at Owen. “We have laid out and measured the distance between several targets so we can scale the images using software back in the classroom. We’re creating a product that emulates what you would pay a land surveyor or civil engineer to produce.”

Instructors like Orange saw the crumbling campground as the perfect laboratory for learning about design, construction, engineering, and more. The ‘Little Pisgah Lab’ - as the project came to be called - incorporates CTE students from all BCS high schools into every step of the camp’s revival, from reparations of existing structures, to designing and rebuilding new facilities from the ground up. Along the way, they’ll gain a hands-on education in multiple disciplines alongside instructors and industry partners like Vannoy and Frank L. Blum Construction.

Despite the cold, Owen senior Aidan Flanagan enjoyed the drone mapping lesson.

Owen High students measure the distance between targets while creating a map of the former Camp Woodson.“I find it interesting how drones work, what they can be used for, and their potential,” he said. “It’s pretty much the future.”

Orange’s drone class guides students down the path of becoming unmanned aircraft pilots. They study topics like aviation and airspace, weather, and Federal Aviation Administration laws to be ready for projects like Little Pisgah Lab. During their first visit to the camp, Orange arranged for Jason Perry, associate producer of VirtualJobShadow.com, to join the them as they discussed flight tips and the basics of mapping missions.

“The Little Pisgah Labs project is an unheard-of career exploration opportunity for students,” said BCS CTE Director Taylor Baldwin. “It goes far beyond the four walls of the classroom to prepare them for the future.”

Background: The former Camp Woodson is currently leased from the Presbyterian Church by nearby not-for-profit Camp Grier for the purpose of developing Little Pisgah Labs. Upon completion of the repairs and new facilities, Camp Grier intends to purchase the property and open the gates for campers. BCS students have access to the property through a partnership with the Western Region Education Service Alliance, who is facilitating the connection between Little Pisgah Labs and industry partners.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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