By David Devine
For the participants, the COPA For Kids program is one of those superb developmental learning experiences that will last a lifetime, and may in some ways be life changing. As for the COPA members running the event, they are able to walk away with a sense of community, giving, pride and that general and indefinable emotion frequently referred to as a “warm fuzzy”.
There can be some attendant challenges with the actual provision of the program, but they can be overcome, and good things come to those who wait. Last October, COPA Flight 149 was ready to hold its second of what was hoped to be annual, COPA For Kids event, having had a successful start the prior year. Everything was in place last fall, including the rain dates. As it turned out, both days were rained out, and a rescheduling till later in the season was not practicable, primarily due to meteorological prognostics, but also the logistics of members resetting timetables.
However, in lieu of flying, the children and families of those who attended were given a tour of several aircraft, and an explanation of flight and how to get involved, as well as some light refreshments. Names were taken with the promise of “first dibs” for the next offering of a COPA For Kids flight.
Flight 149 decided spring would be a better time for the event, and plans were developed. May 26 was the selected date, and Niagara Central Airport (Welland CNQ3) located in Pelham was the location.
The families who’d signed up in the fall were re-contacted, and though a number were unable to participate this time, the spots were filled without even trying, as word of mouth reached out to a city over 50 kilometres away.
The day of the event was gorgeous, and began with display aircraft serving as tour and instructional points of interest for those waiting their turns on the ground. A bonus for the day was the morning preparation of the Eagle Squadron Air Cadets for their year-end review.
There were a number of our attendees who were most interested in the goings-on, and inquired as to how they might become involved as Cadets next year.
We were most fortunate that two of our members are current or past Cadet officials, who were able to answer their questions in detail, and head them in the right direction.
There were other unexpected benefits as well. One parent worked in one of the immigration programs for the Federal Government, and proffered to extoll the virtues of COPA For Kids back in her office in Toronto. Another, who was not an attendee but who would love to be next year, would like to promote the concept with the town’s mayor.
I’d like to thank all members of Flight 149 who made this event possible and give them their due. It was through their efforts and donations that the day was a resounding success. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the silent partner of all COPA For Kids events, our sponsor Ironshore. Running a COPA For Kids event has its challenges, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
This was Flight 149’s second event, though third attempt, and each time we learn a little more. My advice to any Flight considering COPA for Kids is to start small, work your way up, and only take on what you know can be handled.
Coming full-circle back to the beginning of this report, good things come to those who wait.