High Adventure

10th annual Touchstone Energy Camp has students reaching for new heights

Posted on Jul 15 2012 in For Youth

zip2In the summer of 2003, Indiana’s electric cooperatives set out to energize the summer camp experience for youngsters like never before … to literally put the “amp” into “camp.”

Since then, the Indiana Touchstone Energy® Camp has provided lessons about electrical safety and electric
cooperatives along with the usual camp fare for over 900 Hoosier students entering seventh grade.

In early June, co-ops convened camp for the 10th time at Camp Tecumseh YMCA Outdoor Center on the Tippecanoe River near Brookston. Sponsored by 26 participating REMCs and RECs around the state, 104 students participated in the three day, three night event.

Touchstone Energy Camp provides the traditional wide range of activities, including horseback riding, archery, swimming, zip lining, and campfires. But students also learn about alternative energy, electrical safety and the impact their cooperative makes in their community. Chaperones are Indiana electric cooperative employees who volunteer to share their knowledge of the energy industry, as well as lead students through the camp experience.

The camp bridges a gap for co-ops connecting to younger consumers — between the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., for high school seniors and the school safety programs aimed at elementary students, noted Peg Minnicus, manager of member services at Carroll White REMC. She first proposed the camp over 10 years ago and has a been an integral part of the planning committee ever since.



While bucket trucks are made to lift lineworkers safely and easily up in the air to work on overhead power lines, they are amazingly swift and agile — as Carroll White REMC apprentice lineman Corbin Beamer demonstrates to campers Victoria Gobel, left, of Sunman, and Elizabeth Pask of Argos.



For 10 years at camp, Kyle Finley has been quick-cooking hot dogs on a stick with high voltage during his Live Line Demo. The results are always the same: inedible hot dogs which first sizzle and smoke as he touches them to his energized power lines with a lineman’s stick, followed by a blinding arc as he pulls them away. And then, the horrid smell of the burned meat diffuses through the room. It’s one of the most gripping ways to show the power of electricity. Standing up front is camper Lucas Stirn of Batesville.



Bucket truck rides have always been a highlight of camp for many of the campers and set Touchstone Energy Camp apart from all other camps. Tipmont REMC lineman Jeff Morrison takes Baylee Dwenger, right, of Osgood, and Shayla Meinders of Milan on a ride above the tree tops.



Sarah Schaller of Rochester reaches the top of the “Lookout Mountain” climbing wall and clangs the cow bell to let everyone know.


During swim time in the lake, Rylee Briel of Valparaiso reaches to pull herself up onto the giant inflated “Saturn.”