The funny thing is that I grew up in Alabama as a space obsessed kid but I never went to Space Camp. There always seemed to be one reason or another from preventing me, mostly my crippling social anxiety. Last year I finally decided to just go and exactly one year ago today went! I bought my ticket in November 2014 and then two months later I drove to Space Camp to accomplish a childhood dream. I actually wrote up three posts about my three days, which I posted on Tumblr. But I thought it’d be nice to post them here too. (It’s mostly pictures, but that’s okay xD).
This past January I went to Space Camp. Like many others I had dreamed of Space Camp as a child but never actually made it there. Basically on a whim/snap decision I bought my ticket and about a month later I was on my way.
Scared to go alone, I invited my friend Tiffany who was a roommate of mine while I did the Disney College Program. Tiffany isn’t (or wasn’t) so actively obsessed or “into” space/astronomy/etc. but is always up for an adventure, and said yes to my invitation to go to space camp right away.
Upon arrival we were greeted at the really cool space camp entrance and they showed us right into the registration area where we picked up out badges, itineraries and room assignments. ^_^Our room assignment was in the Taurus room in Hab 2. It was just a huge room with a ton of bunkbeds. think classic summer camp dorm rooms.
Tiffany and I were the first to arrive so we had a freak out moment about being at space camp for a while and then picked out our beds: whatever beds were closest to an outlet to charge our phones and cameras.
Eventually our roommates arrived as we were leaving. We had some time before the first scheduled activity so we went and walked through the museum and looked around the gift shop. At the gift shop I bought a space camp flight suit. 😀 I think I’m 5’3″ and I bought a size “Y20”.
So they had everyone at space camp (which was our team and a family team, and another family team for aviation challenge) get together for the Program Overview. They went over a few rules and then we spilt off and met our trainers. The only rule I remember is “take as many pictures as you want except in the IMAX.”
After this we left with Will (our trainer) and he drove us in a small van out to Area 51 for the Ropes Course, which was just actually a series of games so we’d grow closer to each other and get to know one another.
Those activities were using boards to make our way across a small sectioned off area without touching the ground, balancing as a team on a giant seesaw. I wasn’t actually too thrilled about this part and wanted to skip it and kind of did them reluctantly. However, I do see the benefits of having this activity, it just wasn’t my favorite part. During this time we also picked out our team motto.
Afterwards we hopped back on the bus and went back to the main building. We were scheduled to do a mission overview but i think this was when we went to the big building with the Saturn V and looked around real quick instead. The time between the Area 51 and dinner is very blurry in my mind so I’m not sure the exact order in which we did things but here’s an attempt.
We headed outside for a team pictures. Tiffany and I had left our blue space camp shirts back that they gave us at registration in the room so we had to walk back to change haha.
After the picture is when we did a tour of the mission floor and saw all the different areas we would be working during our several missions. We also picked our roles.
We then walked out to the AstroTrek building for the 1/6th Chair. this was really fun and definitely one of my favorite parts of the weekend. The chair looks so easy but when you’re in it and trying to walk it is kind of difficult. they had us do several exercises like walking sideways and jumping and bunny hopping to get a feel of the gravity difference on the moon and how different it is to “walk” on the moon. I was one of the last people to go because I kept punking out and hesitating out of fear that i would do horribly and everyone would laugh. unfortunately i have no actual pictures because it was only caught on video. but it was FUN FUN FUN. if you go to space camp for one thing, let it be this, even thought its all done and over in like, five minutes.
After that it was dinner time and I don’t know about everyone else but i was super hungry. especially since Tiffany and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast before our arrival. Obviously I took pictures of Space Camp food. Don’t get excited, it’s just mediocre cafeteria food which tastes gourmet because of how hungry you get at Space Camp.
After that we did mission training! ahhhh. The whole day I had been super nervous about doing the missions. I was kind of anxious because for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it and kind of just wanted to sit out of the whole activity. But i pushed forward and we trained for the mission. my position was mission specialist and i was excited because as a kid I’d always imagined myself as a mission specialist more than any other role. Training was just running through the mission but with supervision and detailed instructions of what we were supposed to do. My role included doing a space walk! wooh. Our mission would be to repair a satellite. training was super chill and easy and pretty fun.
Directly after training we did the actual mission. This time we were supposed to run through the entire thing without help. Everything was super chaotic and nothing was in sync with other areas. for example, at the end we were still out doing our repairs while the shuttle was being landed. so it wasn’t very accurate in that part haha. but it was fun. I controlled the arm and did all the actual work on the satellite while my partner retrieved and helped transport the antenna that we were replacing. This is when I realized that I really liked doing missions. The space suit was really heavy and it was so hot inside but they put a vest on that has ice packs so it feels like a weird mixture of feeling cool but hot at the same time. One of the more difficult parts was doing everything with the gloves on. Overall I think this was my favorite mission.
I don’t remember entirely but I believe that after the mission we skipped the last activity as a whole group and ended the day early. the first day was really fun and exciting because everything was so new and I was trying to just keep my cool the whole time.
Thinking about the idea of adult space camp is kind of hilarious when i think about it. because it is a program that is made and intended primarily for children mostly to promote science and encourage excitement about learning. but for a lot of adults it is more about fulfilling some sort of childhood dream. sometimes it is hard for me to remember that i am not a kid anymore. so being at space camp for me was a mix of both. having fun and becoming more excited about science while also fulfilling a childhood dream i’d had since age five.