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Space Camp is a major national attraction. Many game shows on Nickelodeon give prizes of trips to Space Camp.
Campers travel from all over the world to attend.
Russo said he believes that Dayton can capitalize as much on Air Camp as Huntsville has on Space Camp.
The city, he said, could promote the programs on its website. He said there could be coordinated efforts to spread the word to put Dayton in the same with Air Camp.
Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph, after hearing from Russo, requested the city’s public relations staff to explore ways to work with Air Camp.
Space Camp, located at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, has done wonders for promoting Huntsville, and the center is the top paid attraction in the state, said Kristen Pepper, marketing manager at the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“It certainly has set us apart as a travel destination,” she said. “I would say it’s definitely put us on the map.”
Dayton, the birthplace of aviation, is home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
Air Camp is another way that aviation is part of Dayton’s identity, and the community needs to figure out how to best weave together all of its flight-related activities and attractions, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
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Air Camp has grown from one camp in its first year in 2010 to 14 camps this year. There were seven in 2017.
There are three types of camps, including resident camp for students in middle school. They stay at student dorms and have five and a half days of activities.
The resident program has students from 30 states.
“We want to increase that number of 14 (camps) … because we have way more students applying than we can accomodate,” Russo said.
Campers visit a variety of aviation-related programs and places, including National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Dayton International Airport, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Calamityville and local colleges.
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