Administrators from The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center are letting their aviation skills soar at the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential’s (C.A.M.P.) camp! For the third year, C.A.M.P. will provide flights for participating children on July 22 and July 29, taking campers up into the skies over the Texas Hill Country for their first chance to pilot a plane. The flights are part of C.A.M.P. camp activities held during the summer months in Center Point, near Kerrville.
Paul K. Carlton, Jr., M.D., director of homeland security for the A&M Health Science Center, retired Air Force Surgeon General (and general in rank), and Jefferson Lett, chief information officer for the health science center’s Office of Information Technology, are using their own planes for the flights. Jim Meads, a friend of Dr. Carlton, is also donating his time and the use of his aircraft for the event.
Lett, who flew F-14s in the military, has been flying for 20 years. “Providing these kids with the opportunity to experience the joy and exhilaration of flight is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as an aviator and a human being,” he said. “I’ve come away from C.A.M.P. Camp with a whole new appreciation for the everyday ‘stuff’ we tend to take for granted.”
The C.A.M.P. camp was established in the late 1980s by Dr. Chris Johnson, a pediatric resident at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio, who wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere for children regardless of their disability.
“This is the most rewarding activity I have ever undertaken. To see the children’s smiles and enjoy the family interaction with these great families is a real treat!,” said Dr. Carlton, who serves on the camp’s board of directors.
Dee Dee Leverett, administrative assistant to Dr. Carlton and in charge of organizing the flight program, says that flying gives the children a new outlook on life. “I organize it, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.” Leverett puts together small goodie bags for all the campers flying that day. Special treats this year will include pilot’s wings’ created by Leverett, aviation posters from Piper Airlines, t-shirts from Scott & White, pictures of airplanes from Cessna Aircraft, pens, toothbrushes and toothpaste from Baylor College of Dentistry, and cups and stickers provided by the College of Medicine. Children will also receive a special Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles certificate signed by the Young Eagles chairman actor Harrison Ford.

— Marketing & Communications