Drone racing summer camp

Drone racing summer camp is coming — and there’s an option to attend virtually, too

Summer camp season is coming, and this year you can send your kids to drone summer camp. What’s more — even if you don’t want to send your kids to a camp away from home in the midst of coronavirus — you can send your kids to this drone racing summer camp from your own home.

SPIRE Academy, an organization known for its residential sports camps (formerly physical sports like basketball, track and field, swimming, but now esports, drones, AI and other emerging tech too) and the Museum of Future Sports launched a Drone Racing Summer Bootcamp.

Sorell Miller, then 12, flies his drone at the National Drone Racing Championships on Governors Island in 2016 in New York City.

This summer, there’s going to be an on-campus version, as well as a remote, distance-learning version.

The camps will be held in June and July, and are open to students in grades 9 through 12.

The in-person drone racing summer camp will be held at Spire Academy’s training facility near Lake Erie in Geneva, Ohio. Boarding is optional. Though rules could change as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, all employees, students, campers, parents and guests are currently required to ear a mask at all times, complete a CDC questionnaire every day, have their hands stamped daily and have their temperatures taken from one to three times a day.

But if you don’t even want to leave your house, you can still join in on the drone summer camp. SPIRE is hosting an online distance-learning version of their drone racing summer camp via streaming technology, including one-on-one teleconferencing, multiplayer PC drone simulators and an FPV drone kit delivered to each camper.

Whether you go to the virtual or IRL camp, here’s what the camp schedule entails:

  • several hours flying and racing
  • working one-on-one with professional pilots on a variety of drone racing skills and challenges
  • attending presentations on engineering, programming, bench work and more from visiting pro drone pilots
  • practicing on a wide range of drone platforms, including mini-scale racing drones and PC-based drone racing simulators
  • team-based racing and competitions
  • pro athlete coaching in PR, social media management and career counseling
  • a final drone race competition and award ceremony on the last day

In a nutshell, this camp is prepping you to become the next professional drone racing.

“Drone Racing has quickly grown into a professional sport, with global leagues, large prize pools and pro contracts for the best pilots,” said Marque Cornblatt, Future Sports founder. “Competing at the highest level requires unique skills, training, coaching, drills and practices.

Some professional drone racers for groups like the Drone Racing League (DRL) reportedly have contracts of up to $100,000. DRL broadcasts and streams on major networks like ESPN, NBC, Twitter and Weibo. In an April memo, DRL said that over the past year, average viewership increased by nearly 200%, virtual drone racing participation increased by 90%, and its social media fanbase grew by 60%.

And organizers say the camp could give high school students a leg up into what could be a six-figure career.

“The Drone Racing Summer Bootcamp Program is an elite opportunity to receive a week of individualized professional training in a program customized specifically to develop skills, knowledge and experience to compete at the highest levels.”

drone summer camp Luke Bannister
Drone pilot Luke Bannister was just 15 when he won $250,000 in the World Drone Prix in Dubai.

This drone summer camp is open to a range of talents, from drone newbie to already pro. After all, the winner of the inaugural World Drone Prix in Dubai, which had a $250,000 prize for the top winner (and overall $1 million purse), was just 15 years old.

What’s interesting is that this summer camp doesn’t just focus on flying, but also teaches other aspects that could help high school students land a job. Part of the focus is on engineering; after all, engineer is the most sought after job in the drone industry. It’s also intriguing to see social media training being offered as part of the drone summer camp. Some critics of drone racing as a sport complain that the sport has struggled to create compelling characters, the way traditional sports have positioned individual athletes as people we root for (ie. Simone Biles in gymnastics). But by training campers in PR and social media, that could give them a leg up as not just a great drone racer, but a drone racer who gets chosen for teams because they’ve shaped a compelling story.

You don’t even need to already have your own drone to participate. Each student receives a complete mini drone racing package to keep, including their own FPV quadcopter, radio controller, video goggles, batteries and spare parts.

The in-person camp costs $1,100 for just the day camp, or $1,395 including boarding. The online version is $899. Both camps are seven days long, and are held multiple weeks in June and July.

Find out more about the drone racing summer camps here.

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