Hoosier Kitefliers Society


From the Midwest to Sub-Sahara

(This article originally appeared in the July, 2011 issue of "Ride the Wind.")

It all started some nine years ago on a hopelessly overcast and rainy afternoon in Clifty State Park when Mom and I wandered over to a “kite workshop” that we were sure would be closed down due to the weather. At that point we weren’t familiar with the perky resilience of the Hoosier Kite Society. We arrived at the North Field and were immediately welcomed like family by the Claycombs--little did we know that they would soon become family. Even though the wind was near non- existent, Dick got out his bright blue Superlite and started explaining the wide world of kites that I had only dreamt of but never knew existed. I was amazed by the stunt kites, descriptions of flying works of art, stories of kites so large they had to be anchored by small buildings, and vicious glass-lined battles. But I was even more impressed and inspired by the boundless kindness and generosity we met on that afternoon--and ever after. We left with a warm invitation to the Ansel Tony fly—rain or shine.

I suppose the rest is history. Mom and I went to the Ansel Tony fly and I remember the wind was so strong that day that Glen had to help me hold on to the kite he was teaching me how to fly. Mom and I were definitely hooked to both the kites and the people. When we arrived at the next fly, Summer Heat, Dick gave me my very first treasured kite and stake that I velcroed through a belt loop immediately and wore until I got home to Madison.

We got more than a Hoosier Kite Society, we got a family. I think some of the best testaments are that the Claycombs have been to BOTH my high school and college graduations, Angie and Clark visited me during college and also returned for graduation, and the Lewandowskis send cards annually. That’s all in addition to the loving kindness from anyone we’ve ever met at a fly. I must admit that venturing out on that gloomy afternoon nine years ago was one of the best decisions we ever made.

The Hoosier Kite Society family has been with me through high school, college, and now I hope to keep you close in my next adventure—Peace Corps. I will be leaving at the end of August for a 27-month Peace Corps service to Senegal working on Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development. Senegal is in West Africa and is a French-speaking republic. The Peace Corps has been sending volunteers to Senegal since the mid-sixties and has a strong partnership with the Senegalese government. While French is used in diplomacy and literature, I’ll actually be learning Wolof, which is the most common ethnic language. I don’t know much yet about where I’ll be or what exactly I’ll be doing. What I do know is that I have about 8 weeks of training in country and that I’ll be issued a bicycle. It’s definitely scary to leave everything I know, my language, my culture, and my familiar Hoosier weather patterns. I’ll be going into the unknown to challenge myself, live simply with the land, learn and teach, and try to contribute positively to my host community. Peace Corps, without a doubt, will be a phenomenal and transformative experience.

The Hoosier Kite Society has been influential toward my growth and development over the years. I thank everyone for your inspiring kindness, your heartfelt generosity, and your honest friendship. I will take these with me always and pay it forward. I may not know many details yet about my service or how it will change me, but I do know there will be wind.