Weather Balloon

Kodiak Corps reaches for the stars

Corps youth launch weather balloon into outer space.

By Karen Gleason – 

The Salvation Army in Kodiak, Alaska, may be small in size but its impact is far reaching. Through its troops program, corps youth literally reached for the stars when they launched a weather balloon into outer space.

“Kodiak is a busy little fishing town on Emerald Island in South Central Alaska,” said Corps Officer Major Jennifer Bates. “We are not big by any means, but we have a great troops program.”

Majors Michael and Jennifer Bates are committed to “empowering today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.” With the help of dedicated volunteers Curt Law and Sue Byers, the corps’ troops run most of the year, keeping the kids connected to the corps and engaged in activities that reach out to the community.

When the youth prepared to venture into outer space, the community definitely took notice and helped make the project a reality.

“We were working on the space travel and rockets badge,” Bates said. “Curt Law is retired Coast Guard and knows lots about rockets and weather.”


The group took field trips to the local Coast Guard base for weather study and to the airport to observe how objects fly. They learned how rockets work and how a real rocket is launched into space, and then proceeded to build their own rockets, launching them upward over 1,000 feet.

Under Law’s instruction, they learned how to build the payload for the weather balloon, which Law donated the materials for. On the launch date, they took the necessary supplies to the Coast Guard Base with a goal to get live video footage.

“We were given the opportunity to launch our weather balloon along with the National Weather Services here on the island,” Law said. “I took them up on their offer and worked from there…we had a live video feed from the weather balloon to show us the rim of the earth. It was great!”

As spectators watched the balloon go up, they could also check monitors to see how high it was going. It ascended over 20 miles above the earth.

“I liked watching the weather balloon go up,” said troop member Kayla, age 8. “It was pretty cool to see the edge of the earth.”

Byers listened to parents’ comments  at the balloon launch and family picnic.

“I heard at least two parents tell Curt that his rocket and balloon launch programs were instrumental in keeping their youth engaged and attending,” she said.

Bates appreciates the dedication of the corps’ youth workers, and Law says he loves working with the kids.

“They bring me joy,” he said. “To be able to touch one kid’s life through The Salvation Army is worth everything.”


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