Space Camp – Part 1: Memories

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Space Camp Badge

I will never forget watching the movie Space Camp in the mid-80s. I was already in love with space and now I was finding out about this amazing place that is a camp all about space! Needless to say I really really wanted to go! At first I wasn’t old enough so I counted the days until I was old enough. I watched the movie over and over and dreamed about being able to attend one day.

Space Camp

(Note – dates are sometimes best guesstimates…)

Chelle in a space suit

In 1988, I attended Space Camp along with my friend Cynthia Skolak. We were on the Earth Team and had so much fun riding the simulators, running our space mission and meeting new people. This was obviously the first time I’d been to camp anywhere but it didn’t phase me in the slightest to be away from home because I was surrounded by space stuff. In fact – when camp ended I distinctly remember thinking, “This can’t be over already!”

Me and Cynthia

In 1991, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend Space Academy I. My passion for space was still as strong as ever. I was excited to attend Space Academy which would start to get into even more detail than Space Camp had. So many great memories! Made some great friends, had a great mission and got to learn even more amazing information about space. I was a total sponge. Living in the Chicagoland area, I didn’t exactly have a plethora of opportunities to learn about space other than through books so I soaked up every bit of knowledge that I could. Oh yeah – and I LOVED getting to ride the multi-axis trainer for the first time. Woo hoo!

Admittedly I am a fan of Facebook, but let me tell you there are various things that have made me such. (Originally I wasn’t real sure about it.) Let me back up…. After Space Academy I, Celeste and I wrote to each other all the time… (and by write I mean hand written letters not emails, email didn’t exist in our world yet.) And these were not 1 or 2 page letters, but 15-20 page novels! We would mail each other pictures and small items from our hometowns. We stayed in touch until we got to college, then sadly life got busy and we lost touch. Then a few years ago we found each other on Facebook! SOOOOOOOOO COOL! Yay for technology!

And then there was a 3rd option for Space Camp…. back in the day it was called Space Academy II. Once again there was absolutely no way we could afford for me to attend, but again I applied to the scholarship program and was accepted. I was beside myself with excitement!

Space Academy II

I just KNEW that this was going to be even more amazing than the previous experiences because it was even more in depth before. (Can you tell I had a voracious appetite for space knowledge?!) Plus we got to scuba dive in the tank!

Scuba diving in the tank

Space Camp certainly helped me in my journey towards working in the space industry… it showed me that it was ok to be a “space dork” – and yes that is a badge I wear with pride!

I feel fortunate to have also worked as a counselor at Space Camp in Florida (all 3 times I attended as a camper I went to Huntsville) in 1997.

Space Camp Counselors

Throughout all the experiences I was so lucky to make so many friends that shared the same passion for space as me. I absolutely love that it’s easier than ever to keep in touch these days!

Space Camp truly was a life changing experience for me, and I feel so fortunate to have gotten those experiences!

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