A Summer with Zip ‘n’ Zap

Posted on Jul 18 2010 in For Youth

zipAnnual Touchstone Energy Camp offers high-voltage fun and adventure

Two-by-two they launched themselves from the tall wooden tower toward the setting sun. Harnessed to a tight cable overhead, appropriately labeled a zip-line, they slipped over the lake below with a zizzing sound.

Laughter followed as they came in for a landing on the opposite shore where a hillside rose to meet them. Greeted by chaperones and camp staff, they were disconnected from the line and walked back around the lake sharing the experience.

Side-by-side they sat awestruck and watched as electrical safety expert Kyle Finley drew crackling arcs of fire from another kind of overhead line — live power lines. They snapped photos as Finley zapped hot dogs, again drawing bright arcs of electricity, while teaching about all aspects of electrical safety.

For the 124 upcoming seventh graders, sponsored by 28 electric cooperatives, the eighth annual Indiana Touchstone Energy Camp was a unique combination of a little zip and zap, this and that, that added up to a fun and educational camp experience. Along with the added electric co-op flavor, all the regular camp fare was included.

Here is a look back at the camp, held June 9-12 at YMCA Camp Tecumseh near Brookston. — Photos and text by Richard G. Biever

To see more photos from Electric Consumer photographer Richard Biever and camp photographer Lori Miller from Southeastern Indiana REMC, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/TouchstoneEnergyCamp and select the three 2010 albums.

Top photo: Alexa Abbott slides down a zip-line that takes her over the Camp Tecumseh lake. She was sponsored at camp by Parke County REMC.


Using special electrical safety equipment, electrical safety expert Kyle Finley of Live Line Demo draws an arc between energized power lines and the head of an artificial squirrel to show Touchstone Energy campers what can happen to animals and people who become the path to ground.


To illustrate where electricity comes from, one camp activity is to build a power generation and distribution system out of Legos. Samantha Elliott, sponsored by Jackson County REMC, center, playfully tries to get her group’s wind turbines spinning. Helping build the towers are Lauren Odle, sponsored by Tipmont REMC, left, and Megan Mussche, sponsored by White County REMC.


Chad Mussche reaches to clang the cow bell atop the climbing wall. He was sponsored by White County REMC.


Hannah Harrell, right, and Madison Toon hang on for a bucket ride that took campers into the tree tops. Operating the bucket truck is Doug Williams, a lineworker from Tipmont REMC. The Friday at camp focused on the safety and skills of lineworkers and included demonstrations of pole climbing and equipment. Hannah was sponsored by Marshall County REMC and Madison by UDWI REMC.


Ricky Pangburn gives his horse a friendly pat after riding the trails at Camp Tecumseh. Ricky was sponsored by Clark County REMC.


No summer camp is complete without cooking over an open flame. Alex Hewartson, left, sponsored at Touchstone Energy Camp by Noble REMC, and Hunter Weiss, sponsored by Kankakee Valley REMC, roast their hot dogs. Touchstone Energy Camp also featured hot dogs instantly zapped at high voltage during an electrical safety demonstration.


Autum Auxier, left, and Angie McFarland share a look while joining in a Camp Tecumseh-led campfire song. Autum was sponsored by White County REMC; Angie by Parke County REMC.


Over the four days Touchstone Energy Camp is held, friendships develop fast — making the good-byes a little harder. Cabinmates Liza Russell, left, sponsored by Hendricks Power Cooperative, and Stacy Nethery, sponsored by Hoosier Energy, share a hug as Liza departs. Looking on is Stacy’s mom, Hoosier Energy employee and camp chaperone Holli Nethery.