In 2007 Space Camp changed the way they recruited counselors. Rather than recruiting only in north Alabama they would send staff to colleges around the United States. That first year I was lucky enough to travel to Arizona and my home state Mississippi! Traveling with me to Arizona was then counselor, Jen DiCarlo, a.k.a. Snapper. There are three things I will never forget about that trip. First, Snapper being nervous about traveling with me. Secondly, staying at the Ramada Inn in Mexi-Ghetto. And finally, the epic explosion of a Diet Mountain Dew in my lap, on my shirt and in my face when we stopped for directions to Embry Riddle.
Last year on our second trip we attended Embry Riddle’s career fair. Snapper and I made the trek out to Prescott to man the booth. We didn’t plan on visiting any other college in Arizona other than Embry Riddle. But, we took it upon ourselves to venture around the city to find two other colleges. First was Yavapai College, a community college which is home to other universities’ satellite campuses. Yavapai is the only community college I know that if you can stick around long enough you can get a doctorate. They are also home to seven time national soccer champions and really cool t-shirts! We also found Prescott College, which is a school that focuses on environmental studies. We searched for a while looking for the school. If you blink driving through you will miss it. We visited the campus book store and felt that if we wanted to purchase illegal drugs we could. That is if we wanted to. We decided that would be our first and last visit.
Year three and I am still on the recruitment team. Charity hasn’t kicked me off the team yet. I am trying to figure out how to take an In-N-Out burger home to her, which should keep me on the team for another year. I am trying to stay out of trouble in the southwest. However, yesterday while visiting Yavapai College I thought we were about to be kicked off campus or worse. We set up in the campus cafeteria right at the front door so everyone could see us. We met lots of nice people including a Space Camp alumni and Navy veteran. The cafeteria’s general manager walked to our table and asked what we were doing. We told him cheerfully, recruiting staff to work at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. He didn’t want a job. He asked a few more question, like who gave us permission to set up in “his cafeteria.” Snapper and I both debated the best way to escape the wrath of Mr. Food Service. All was ironed out, but it was tense there for a few moments.
Yavapai has a beautiful campus, very modern buildings with great architecture. It is most definitely the nicest community college I have ever visited. After meeting some great people and hanging out at the library and purchasing t-shirts at the book store, we ventured to the airport to look for the Yavapai chapter of the Ninety-Nines. This was a futile exploration, but we did enjoy the adventure. I think the adventure is the greatest thing about being on the recruitment team.
What would a recruiting trip to Arizona be if we didn’t stop at the Prescott Brewing Company for our favorite sandwich? Embry Riddle graduate and U.S. Air Force officer, Joyce Hirai, a.k.a. Forecast, introduced Snapper and I to PBC and the PBC Wedge. PBC is a great restaurant and micro brewery. They have coasters on the wall, I would estimate over 3,000 coasters decorated the walls. The restaurant is in a shopping center similar to the shopping arcades in London. Last night we ate out in the atrium and watched the shop keepers close their novelty shops for the night. It was enjoyable just as always. We did miss the company of Forecast!
Today we had an info session at the Christine and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Library and Learning Center. Wow, whoever picks names for buildings should learn to shorten them? A dozen students showed up to hear our song and dance. I was very excited by the great questions they asked. Probably the greatest question was, “So how is the food at camp?” This man knows what is important in life. You can’t be happy without a full belly. After the info session we visited the ERAU flight line. I was very impressed.
On our way to visit the flight line we saw an iron cross towering over the hillsides. It was made of various pieces of scrap. The amazing thing about the cross is how perfect it looks on the hill but out of place since there were no churches around it. The colors of the Arizona terrain are dusty browns, rusty reds and sandy greens. The randomness of the iron pieces is similar to the randomness of the trees, brush, and rocks. I am sure weary travelers are reminded of Christ just like I was as we drove along the highway. Any hillside is a perfect hillside for a cross!
I am lucky to visit this beautifully ugly area. Prescott is so wonderfully neat. Snapper proclaims daily that Arizona is so different than home. She wouldn’t want to live here, but loves the cactus and hills, the rocks and trees. The one thing she doesn’t love is the rattle snakes. There are houses in between rocks and on the edges of cliffs. There are not many bright colors and hardly any green grass. I love visiting different places to help remind me why I love the south so much! I am thankful for this trip each year!