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Building Friendships Through Crafting in the Campground

July 30, 2016 - Deb Welge, EAA 600225, and her husband Curt Welge, EAA 384233, make the drive to Oshkosh with four other couples from their home in Carbondale, Illinois. They like to watch the campgrounds come to life, so they arrive as soon as Camp Scholler opens for the season in late June.

“We get here and we’re the first RVs in this whole field,” Deb said. “We watch every day as others sprinkle in and there’s usually one week where it just blooms out really fast. It’s really amazing to watch. People don’t have any idea how huge it is and how much of a production to put on it is.”

Besides getting to know her fellow campers and watching EAA AirVenture Oshkosh come to life, Deb spends some of her time crafting beautiful stained glass window panes.

“It’s a hobby for me,” Deb said. “It keeps me going. I have quite a few around my house and I make them for friends. Once in a while someone will offer to buy a piece. Most times it’s just enough for me to go buy more glass. I’ve been doing it for about four years and I just seem to have a natural knack for it.”

This year, people on the campgrounds took notice.

“I bring all my glass and equipment up here and I’ll just sit and cut out glass,” Deb said. “All of a sudden, people were stopping by and talking to me, watching the process. We got so much attention with it. It wound up being something that helped me meet a lot of people that I would’ve never met.”

Curt, a commercial pilot for UPS and all-around general aviation enthusiast, was instrumental in getting Deb interested in aviation and eventually helping her become a certified private pilot. They own a 1946 Taylorcraft and a Magni M-16 and Curt is in the process of building an RV-7. He joked that he’s 90 percent done but still has 90 percent worth of small details left to finish.

“He actually kind of tricked me into it,” Deb said. “He took me out flying so we could take pictures of the lake and he said ‘take control so I can try and take pictures on this side.’ I realized wow this isn’t so bad. He slowly started showing me things and I just fell in love with it. I absolutely love flying.”

More than anything, Deb said she’s touched by the attention she received and the overwhelming sense of community present on the campgrounds.

“It’s kind of interesting that at an event like this, with this many people. I could leave that piece of stained glass out there on the table and nobody would touch it. Nothing ever goes missing, it’s just a really neat event. People are so friendly. They don’t mind just coming up and talking to you; it’s great. I mean, we’ve met people from all over – South Africa, England, France, New Zealand – I love coming up here early and watching things come to life for just that reason.”

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