Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the TBEX Travel Consortium of Planet…eering Bloggers? And voyage we did! To Huntsville, Alabama, home of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center…AND SPACE CAMP!
Okay, okay. So I had a little too much fun with the video. (But c’mon! How retro cool was that?!) Huntsville is an amazing city, and it resides in a state I will likely forever consider a home. Don’t worry; that’s not just blowing smoke. I lived there for two years and testify with a ROLL TIDE ROLL for you. (If you don’t know the phrase, just know it will earn you immediate friends and enemies all at once if you shout it in Alabama public.)
Huntsville is one spot where I unfortunately didn’t spend much time at all during my two fantastic years in Alabama. And did I ever miss out…until recently when I attended one of the coolest programs I’ve encountered in my life–a day at Space Camp. I had no idea what to expect, but I learned seven facts that I need to share with you. Hopefully, this slate helps prepare you a bit if you are thinking about attending! (Even as an adult!!)
Space Camp Fast Facts
The photo above is Mission Control; and I sat at PAYCOM, the fourth screen when moving from left to right. (And was I ever an awesome PAYCOM analyst!) I sat there about two hours during my day on campus, soaking up as much as I could about space odysseys, space oddities, and other space pop culture novelties.
Seriously, outside of Kubrick and Bowie, I was surprised by the following list:
- Space Camp isn’t just for kids. Somewhat shocking, I know. Then again, am I just a big kid? Probably. At any rate, you are never too old for Space Camp; and there is an adult option for you…or a child option if you’re like me. Perhaps my head has been in the sand all these years, but I thought my opportunity passed. Not so. Thankfully.
- There are varying lengths of time for the camps. That makes sense though my mind was not on that wavelength when I arrived. So prepare for a time span of your choosing; naturally, you’ll see and experience more with longer camps. And trust me…you’ll want to attend the longer camps. One day is not enough, and I felt our abbreviated mission was absolutely not enough. Oh how I long to say, “PAYCOM is go!” again or rotate to another mission role!
- Even if you attend Space Camp once, you won’t experience all the mission possibilities. I was able to play the role of a PAYCOM analyst in Mission Control, but I missed out on playing seven other mission control roles in addition to several roles in a space station, in outer space on a space walk, and in the space shuttle. So many positions exist that you’ll likely never run out (unless you attend the camp about 15-20 times…).
- The simulation feels real outside of following a written script. I was genuinely nervous and excited when the shuttle was beginning landing maneuvers. We were treated to the shuttle being moved from automatic to manual flight to which our pilot (who has flight experience) responded with confidence! He was able to successfully land on the second attempt! Serious cool and major props.
- You build camaraderie and bond with a group of people–whether you previously knew them or not. Yep. And the people with whom I attended were awesome. I definitely felt closer to them at the end of the day. Which means Space Camp missions may be great for team-building! You honestly need to pay attention, coordinate, and work together as impromptu emergency situations are thrown into the mission. One person’s failure can easily mean everyone’s failure so everyone is driven to perform their best!
- If space missions aren’t your child’s cup of tea, Aviation Challenge missions which are centered on airplane flight and includes ziplines for older kids might interest him/her! Aviation Challenge is the much lesser known sibling to Space Camp that even I, who have spent ample time in the region, didn’t know existed. Cockpit simulations abound, and that was NOT a kind of mission about which I was expecting to learn during my time at the camp. This particular feature does not have an adult camp.
- You’ll want to come back for more. At least, I think you will. I certainly do. I thoroughly enjoyed my day, and the video I produced is easily my favorite thus far. And yet, even though the day was awesome, I feel I have so much more I could do and learn with some additional time there!
Have you visited Space Camp before? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this list and anything you would add to it! Comment below, and share the love! Until next time…toodles!