IThere’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our mindsI

David Bowie

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center

Looking for a camp that is scientific and fun at the same time? Try Space Camp located in Huntsville, AL. I had a lot of fun last summer, and learned quite a bit. During the week we learned about space flight, what it was like to live onboard the International Space Station, what it takes to be an astronaut by completing space missions, how to design, build, and launch our own personal rockets (sadly, it didn’t get to space,) and our groups watched two inspirational movies.

One was called “Dream On,” where after a devastating flood in Thailand destroys her home country, a woman comes to America and fulfills her dream of becoming an architect. I loved this story because it reminds people just because you think something may not be possible, it doesn’t mean it is never going to happen. Dreams can come true. And my dream was to come to Space Camp.

Space Camp

Ground Control to Major Coco: The Missions

Unlike the movie Space Camp, our missions up to space were fake, but still really fun.  We would have mission planning meetings before we started and what they called mission debriefings afterward. My first mission was to go up to space where two of us (me and my friend Desdemona) crawled through a tunnel and made sure the space shuttle landed on the moon. We also changed into these bulky spacesuits that were crazy looking. During our “space visit” on the moon we added solar panels to a space building as a source of electricity.

The next mission was similar, but this time my crew job was to be the space scientist who handled all of the chemistry. The experiments I conducted were fun and used ingredients like Coca-Cola and Mentos candies, and another time I made the coolest green Slime. For some extra fun, I put my slime in the freezer to see what would happen! I also got to talk to the rest of my crew using walkie-talkies from my own station. That was the space mission I got the chance to talk to CAPCOM which is the name for Ground Control.

Space Camp

While at camp we also discovered the newest rocket that will carry NASA astronauts to Mars and designed a future colony for the planet. This was SO cool!

What Campers Eat at Space Camp

While the store had some “space meals” and dessert packs like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream bars, that wasn’t on the menu at the Crew Galley (or cafeteria) each day. I really didn’t think that the Space Camp food was gonna be that good, but I was mistaken. It was the best camp food I ever had! I soon found out that they even had their own garden.

Each night the Crew Galley served food from around the world. One day it was Italian food for dinner, then Chinese, and even German.  They had a soda machine where we mixed all the sodas together to see what it would taste like and it was pretty gross. After dinner, they even had an ice cream container where you could get either vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate ice cream. My friends and I made root beer floats!

And if you are a vegetarian or want to throw in something healthy to eat, there is a salad bar with all kinds of dressings and fixings. In the morning, it was always pancakes or waffles for breakfast, but it you wanted a bagel, you could easily get one from the same place where the salad is served during dinnertime.

Space Camp
Graduation Day!

The Bunks

The bunks were not bad. That is where I met most of my friends and even had a good night’s sleep. The only complaint about the bunks was that there were five showers for sixty girls.

At night, we were allowed to listen to music on our phones, and text our families good night until “lights out” at 10 pm. One girl came all the way from France so our group was international!  The lockers are very small, so if you are spending the week at Space Camp don’t pack too much. Also, here’s a tip, if you bring any electronics make sure to pack a portable charger box because there aren’t a lot of places to plug your phone in.

I had to go every night to the other side of the room to plug and charge my phone. As for whether the top or bottom bunk is better, to me, it didn’t matter. I just liked the top bunk better because you are higher up and can see everything going on. The counselor every night comes around and turns the light off leaving only the lights on that lead you to the washroom.

Mom sidenote: Space Camp supplied the campers with pillows and blankets, but I made sure Kiddo brought her own pillow and pillowcase. Glad I did because while the blankets were OK, the pillows were small, flat, and well, I wouldn’t have used it.

Space Camp Fun

But Space Camp wasn’t all about missions, we also had a lot of fun outside on the Space and Rocket Center campus. We took a dip in the lake and shot off our rockets. I and my three friends (Audrey, Eric, and Noah) dove headfirst into the lake and played chicken while we splashed around.

Then we each made a rocket that even had a parachute! (LOL my rocket exploded in mid-air) and my teacher had to make another one, which got ran over by a bus after it got launched!  We also went into the house of simulators where we trained like an astronaut on the 1/6th Gravity Chair, the Five Degrees of Freedom simulator and the Multi-Axis Trainer! I went on a simulator that made me feel like I was coming back to earth spinning. The anti-gravity simulator felt like I was on the moon.

Each one was so cool. Spoiler alert: when you do the rockets, there is a motor put in there that BURNSSS your parachute when shocked with electricity to launch it.

Space Camp even has it’s very own Netflix series now.
Watch and see some of the cool stuff we did.

Homesick

I didn’t get homesick because I knew my mom was staying at a hotel close by. Everyone was really nice and we were kept super busy that I didn’t have enough time to think about missing home and my friends. Lots of friends and teachers sent me letters while I was gone and it was such a treat to know they thought of me. We were not allowed to get packages, so the cards at mail call were awesome! Even my assistant principal, Dr. Bak, sent me mail.

Graduation Day: Mission Specialist VIII

The last day of Space Camp is called Graduation Day where they hold a special ceremony under the Pathfinder space shuttle which is a real spaceship!  This was the first time I was allowed to wear my blue flight suit filled with patches.  The whole time at Space Camp I had to wear my favorite patch with my name on it upside down. This is an astronaut tradition because on Graduation Day, astronaut Don Thomas who has been on four space missions totaling 43 days, flipped my tag right side up showing that I was officially an honorary crew member. My official title was Mission Specialist VIII Standley. I’m really proud of that!

My favorite part of Space Camp was of all of the fun I had with new friends and the cool stuff I learned. I loved meeting new people from all over the world (even when they laughed at me because I walked up with a burnt parachute and the two pieces of my exploded rocket!) I also loved working on the missions every day, the food, (ha,ha) and more. So much more that I can’t wait to go back next summer for Space Academy.

I hope you can come to Space Camp one day, but remember to bring a lock, since space camp doesn’t supply them! I know you will have a blast at Space Camp and love it as much as I did. See you next summer!

P.S. from Coco’s Mom: If this is the first time your child is headed to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, then congratulations! Your child is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. My daughter completed her first ever sleep-away at Space Camp and had the most amazing time. Not only was it completely immersive and she learned more than I ever thought imaginable, but she made friends with some of the nicest kids, and they still keep in touch. It was definitely a week she will not soon forget. If your child is interested in space and STEM fields, I highly recommend this program for children of all ages.


Soundtrack: Press Play

Space Odyssey — David Bowie

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