McPherson offers summer camp for car guys (and gals)

Summer campers work on welding skills at McPherson College | McPherson photos
Summer campers work on welding skills at McPherson College | McPherson photos

A few openings remain if you want to send not your child but yourself or your favorite car guy or gal to summer camp. OK, technically it’s the Auto Restoration Summer Institute at McPherson College in Kansas, but what it is a series of week-long and car-specific learning opportunities in:

  • Automotive electrical systems
  • Automotive paint restoration
  • Automotive woodworking
  • Brightwork and finishing touches
  • Casting and pattern making
  • Engine rebuilding
  • Engine tune-up and diagnostic
  • Sheet-metal restoration
  • Upholster and trim

Plus there’s an advanced class in sheet-metal shaping and fabrication.

Classes are definitely hands on
Classes are definitely hands on

The classes are led by the same instructors who teach in McPherson’s unique four-year auto restoration degree program, except instead of undergraduates as students the summer program is designed for classic car owners who want to learn more about restoring or maintaining their vehicle(s).

“Classes typically go from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a quick break for lunch,” said Brian Martin, director of auto restoration projects at the college.

Since nearly all campers are from out of town, Martin said the school tries to provide evening activities as well, including visits to local car collections.

While summer campers aren’t allowed to bring an entire car to work on during the week, they are encouraged, Martin said, to bring “a fender or two, or some trim such as brass headlights or a hood ornament or door handles” to restore during the week.

Women are welcome as students. Martin said the summer sessions often attract husband and wife teams, whether car collectors or restoration business owners. He also said it’s not unusual for high school or community college students to attend as a trial run to see if they might want to pursue a four-year degree program at McPherson.

Because of the strong interest in the summer program, it was expanded to three weeks last year, and Martin said the class offerings for the third week have been expanded this year.

Sheet metal skills are a big draw to McPherson summer school
Sheet metal skills are a big draw to McPherson summer school

Many of the sessions already are filled, but not all, and there are waiting lists should someone cancel. Classes are limited to between 9 and a dozen students, depending on the subject matter.

The classes are $650 each. There also are various housing and meal options. A class with full campus housing and meals is $1,000 for the five-day week.

For details, visit the summer program website.

Even before the summer program begins, the McPherson auto restoration students stage their 16th annual CARS Club Motoring Festival May 1-2 with an open house and cruise-in on Friday and the big car show on Saturday.

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