Camp Kilowatt put the pedal to the medal in 2023, literally.
The annual four-day program for students entering seventh grade, funded by electric cooperatives across the state of Indiana, including Hoosier Energy, took place June 7-10 at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana.
Hoosier Energy was also the primary sponsor for circuit boards and bikes this year, one of several rotating stations that the 101 campers, 38 of which came from 14 Hoosier member cooperatives, took part in each evening.
“We had the bikes sponsored in 2019, and it was a huge hit,” first-year camp director Crystal Greathouse of Decatur County REMC said. “That’s why when the committee was discussing ideas for the circuit board rotation, I thought it would be great if we could have them back and add that with circuit boards. It really worked out great.”
The bikes were provided by Nine13sports, an organization that travels to schools and other student-centric locales such as Camp Kilowatt with what they describe as “an interactive indoor bicycling simulator.
Eight bikes are set up on stationary training stands and interface with a computer software program that simulates bike riding outdoors, including going up and down hills.
Each rider can see information such as speed and distance displayed on a large-screen TV monitor. That display also included how much energy the rider created. However, that’s as far as it went despite some campers’ concerns.
“Someone asked me as they were coming in if we were harvesting the energy from your bikes,” the Nine13sports trainer said before one of the rotations. “No, we’re not doing that. You will be able to see how much wattage you’re producing.”
Each bike also had a magnet, and the computer program sent an electrical signal to the bikes to activate or deactivate the magnet. When it activated, it created resistance and felt like the campers were pedaling uphill. When it deactivated, the magnet loosening made it feel like going downhill.
There were plenty of other activities on the agenda at Camp Kilowatt as well, including bucket truck rides, rock climbing, archery, riflery, swimming, alternative energy education, live line safety demonstration, horseback riding, canoeing, a zipline and more.
One of those other activities was checking out a trio of electric vehicles, which was a hit for those wanting less activity when putting the pedal to the metal. Campers clambered in and out of Tesla, a Mustang and an F150 pickup truck investigating everything from the open area where the engine normally is on a car to the bells and whistles that accompany such vehicles. That was quite literally the case as the Tesla could put on its own light show with music.
“I really enjoy seeing all the kids and how excited they get when trying out new activities that they may never have had the chance to do elsewhere,” said Greathouse, who had previously experienced Camp Kilowatt as a chaperone. “Camp went very well for my first year as director. There were a few things we need to improve for next year, but overall, it was a huge success. Camp Kilowatt is such a great experience!”