Why Space Camp?

>> 4.26.2011

So I got to go to camp several times while growing up, but I never did attend Space Camp. When you're one of three kids in a Midwestern family in the mid-1980s, as the country is recovering from a recession, you can't just pack your bags for Alabama and start driving south.

I don't remember how I first heard of Space Camp in those pre-website days, but my knowledge of its existence definitely predated the movie of the same name. (Note: As a former junior camp counselor, I can safely say I never launched, nor contemplated launching, my charges into space.)

Why would I have any interest in space or NASA? The first shuttle launch occurred when I was first starting to pay attention to world news. Just weeks prior to the launch of Columbia, I remember sitting by the television after school, taking notes about the shooting of President Reagan.

I was born after those milestone events of Kennedy being assassinated and man's first steps on the moon, but I remember where I was when Reagan was shot and when Challenger exploded. (I wrote in my journal about that event too, when I couldn't get my arms around the scope of that tragedy.) I even remember worrying about where Skylab would crash to earth in 1979.

No, I never really wanted to be an astronaut. There, I've said it. But I've always taken an interest in a wide range of subjects, especially transportation-related. I was raised to appreciate several forms of "transportation," as my father has written about auto racing and photographed trains from his childhood on. Now, as part of a family of non-pilot EAA members, I can discuss, admire, and appreciate what I see at Airventure each year, though I can't control an aircraft.

So I don't want to actually fly, but I do want the Space Camp experience. Huntsville, here I come!


Why camp?

>> 4.25.2011

I've been fascinated with camp since age 6. I remember poring over a brochure for the camp I ultimately would attend: "3 days and 2 nights for 6-8 year olds." Not sure how it started, but given that most camps have beaches, golf carts, clipboards, and walkie-talkies, well, let's just say my obsessions have be consistent for decades.

Side note: To be clear, we are not talking about camping; we are talking about camps. Camps, where you eat indoors, bunk in cabins, and don't have to dig a hole when nature calls. If it involves tents and bear-proofing your food, I want no part of it. I remember searching the library for non-fiction books about going to camp, packing for camp, anything. Nope. Just how to start a campfire with twigs and the hiker's guide to poisonous critters. No thanks.

But in the world of fiction, more specifically, in my dad's classroom library, I discovered the classic tome Sal Fisher at Girl Scout Camp. Sal's adventures at Camp Lenoloc made me yearn for my own camp experience. Yes, I captured the book before it was weeded from the shelves and am reading it to my own daughter, who has not expressed any interest in heading to the land of s'mores.

So were all my camp adventures rosy? Not so much, but I still look back on them fondly, and I even returned during high school to the camp of my childhood to be a junior counselor for a couple weeks. My first "3-day, 2-night" camp weekend was postponed when my friend got chicken pox right before we were scheduled to leave. My first full week of camp involved a friend who thought the camp (two hours away) was too far away. (She has since lived in South Africa and London. I think I'll take partial credit for making her leave home.) That week was marked by an ill-fated night in a tent (see... always a bad idea), when the severe thunderstorm hit and flooded us into a van back to camp.

At some point we'll send the child to camp, but it won't be the one I attended, which closed just last year. Guess I need to research mother/daughter camp adventures.


Space Camp!

>> 4.24.2011

It was April 14, 2011, and I was checking my email at lunchtime. What I read shocked me: "Congratulations on being selected for our first ever Space Camp Tweetup event on April 28th and 29th! We have a lot of great events planned and are excited you will get to be a part of it."

What? Seriously? I get to go to Space Camp?

Wait, I'm taking a trip in two weeks? Me, Miss "Start Planning Vacations a Year in Advance"?

Um, you mean I have to tell my husband I signed up (and was one of 16 people selected) for a Tweetup - in Alabama?

Deep breaths.

Step 1: Decide there's no way I can pull this off. The easiest course of action is to decline.

Step 2: Change my mind. I'm nearing a milestone birthday, and I'm being handed something from my bucket list on a silver platter. Live a little. Be spontaneous. Go.

Step 3: Spend three days trying to figure out how to execute the logistics of being spontaneous. Spend the same three days deciding the best way to inform the husband of this adventure.

Step 4: Learn that the husband wants to come along and visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and bring the child. Yes, he just signed on for a road trip twice as long as we've ever attempted. And he hates riding in the car. Okay, then.

Step 5: Clear my schedule, explain the event to my boss, make reservations, and find activities for the two non-Space Campers.

Step 6: Decide there's some work-related value in the trip. Make the necessary contacts and arrangements (how many pieces of technology - and charging cords - can I bring?).

More deep breaths. This is going to be a whirlwind week. Can't wait!

Next: The story behind my childhood obsession with camp - including Space Camp.


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