Volunteer Pilots and Victory Junction: Soaring Summers

Start Your Engines!

Two children buckle into the back seat of a small plane. One last check – everything’s safe. Excited grins cross their faces. The propeller roars to life, spinning faster and faster. The plane speeds down the runway… and takes off! Cheers come from the back seat. These children are flying with Mercy Medical Angels’ volunteer pilot program, and it’s one special mission. They’re going to Victory Junction.

Victory Junction: Racing Dreams

adam petty and child
Adam Petty visits a sick child. His mind was for racing, but his heart was for children.

Adam Petty was carrying on his family’s legacy in NASCAR racing. When he wasn’t on the racetrack, he was giving back to the community. Adam had a soft spot for children, and would often visit pediatric hospitals.

One summer, Adam visited a summer camp for children with serious illnesses. He wanted to establish a similar camp in his home state of North Carolina. It was the dream of his young life – a life tragically ended in a racing accident. Even though Adam was gone, his dream raced on. His family rallied the NASCAR community to help establish a summer camp for children with serious illnesses. In 2004, Adam’s dream came true when Victory Junction opened.

Speeding Into Summer

victory junction entrance
What a view! Summer is in sight.

The plane lands near Randleman, North Carolina. A van is waiting for the children. They enter the van, unable to contain their excitement. It rolls down the road for a while. Eventually, it reaches the hills. Colorful buildings and lush green fields come into view. There it is – Victory Junction!

Traditions and Tall Tales

nascar crew at pit stop
Let the race begin! A real NASCAR crew performs a pit stop on Victory Junction’s stock car during NASCARnival.

Any summer camp has traditions and tall tales. Victory Junction is no exception. Camp legend speaks of a gigantic fish, Sikopotat. The only person to catch this whopper was racing hero Richard Petty. Being a nice guy, the famed driver gave Sikopotat a kiss on the gills before releasing him back into the lake. Nobody’s caught the elusive creature since then, but they always try!

There’s also the NASCARnival. At the opening, racecar drivers come and perform a pit stop on the camp’s race car. The fun doesn’t end there! A chance for tethered hot air balloon rides is a highlight. Face painting and carnival games feature as well. Campers with a sweet tooth can enjoy cotton candy and other delicious fare.

counselor and camper on stage day at victory junction
Lights, camera, action! Stage Day at Victory Junction puts campers in the spotlight.

Stage Day is another Victory Junction tradition. Campers dress up and get the chance to be a star! They can act, sing, play an instrument, or perform their very own routine on stage. Creativity and camp-wide fame – what’s not to enjoy?

Fun for All

archery target bullseye
Bullseye! Archery is a popular activity at Victory Junction.

There’s no shortage of things to do at Victory Junction! Arts and crafts gives campers a creative outlet, from making slime in the lab to creations they’ll take home. Water sports like kayaking and paddleboating are another beloved activity. A waterpark is another favorite. Horseback riding is an option. Some campers enjoy the Fab Shop, where they can get makeup, manicures, and temporary hair colors. Victory Junction even has a NASCAR museum, where campers explore the exciting world of racing up-close and personal!

When campers hit the target in archery, they do the Bullseye Dance! This accomplishment rings from one side of the camp to the other.

Older campers are granted the privilege of ascending the ropes course. When they reach the top, they get a special bracelet made from the durable ropes. They can wear it with pride, and treasure it forever. The rope bracelet is a badge of honor – only found at Victory Junction.

Summer Ends…

wish sticks victory junction
See you later! Wish Sticks at the closing campfire.

A week of camp comes to an end with the closing campfire. Counselors put on their last skits. There’s one final sing along. Wish Sticks are collected. The wish sticks are camper’s wishes and hopes, written on popsicle sticks. These sticks go into the campfire. The smoke rises to the stars – a realm where wishes come true.

…Dreams Are Endless

The two campers bid their farewells to the camp and their friends. The van takes them to the airport, where the small plane is waiting for them. A volunteer pilot from Mercy Medical Angels is flying them back home. Once in the plane, the volunteer pilot asks how their summer went. They don’t have enough words to describe how much fun they had. With that, the plane takes off into the open air.

“Goodbye” is not in the dictionary at Victory Junction. Instead, they choose three words: “See you later!” Campers are determined to see their friends again. Even after a soaring summer touches down on the runway, camp dreams are as endless as the summer sky.

victory junction holding hands rope bracelets
These rope bracelets are made to last for a lifetime… just like camp friendships.