Yesterday, I picked up my dear friend Dan Oates from the airport. He had been in Boston for the annual stockholders meeting of Sam Adams. Dan had to hurry back for the first day of teacher camp training. As we drove back from the airport we chatted about beer and the good old days. See, Dan and I started working Space Camp’s educator program thirteen years ago this month. I was just a young twenty something school teacher from Mississippi and Dan was a wily veteran of SCI-VIS and a few teacher camp sessions as a guide. Wow, if I could tell the young Red Bull a thing or two… Would I? Probably nothing more than enjoy the ride, the Space & Rocket Center is going to change your life!
This morning while traveling into work, I got to thinking about this wonderful journey I have had at Space Camp. So much of it is very serendipitous, the people I have met, the things that I have done, and the awesome tasks that have been given to me. I never would have thought I would meet the first man on the moon or have dinner with Homer Hickam or Christa McAuliffe’s mom. Growing up if you would have told me that I would be responsible for training hundreds of Space Camp & Aviation Challenge Crew Trainers, I would have sneered at you and ran the other way! On a day like today, where I can be reminded of my Space Camp roots by welcoming back old friends like Jennifer & Wes Kennedy to camp and get to experience what I see is my lasting mark at Space Camp, Crew Trainer graduation. I must thank God for this wonderful adventure.
On May 5th, I ran in a triathlon at Kennedy Space Center. There I ran past Paul’s Steakhouse which overlooks the Banana River on to the NASA launch facilities. This restaurant was where Kat Balch and I reminisced about our favorite Space Camp moments with Alpha 19, the first group of Advanced Space Academy teachers. This trip is where I made many dear friends, one was Rhonda Cox. She deserves a little credit for my triathlon addiction. Sitting on that screened in porch at Paul’s those many years ago was so precious. That evening would have to be one of my favorite Space Camp moments. But I have too many to really pick just one.
There have been so many wonderful people come into my life because of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. I have met master teachers, young campers with dreams of flying jets or wearing a military uniform, notable authors and artists, ordinary people with passion for adventure and aspiring college students who want the experience of being a crew trainer. If I had to list the people who have impacted my life from camp, the list would be as long as the tax code. The people are what give the Space & Rocket Center it’s magic. The greatest asset of Space Camp are the people, past and present, who call the rocket center home even if for a few days.
As Dan reminded me yesterday, always focus on the positive. Space Camp, just like any other organization run by people, is flawed. But if we spend all of our time focusing on the cracks in the mortar we won’t see the beauty which is the mosaic of Dr. von Braun’s vision. He wanted to teach and groom the next generation of explorers. I feel like I am doing that. And if I can be lucky enough to see another thirteen years on this earth I hope to dream bigger and better dreams for myself while encouraging others as well. Whether or not it is at Space Camp or at Camp Red Bull, this is my hope. Thank you Dan… now I need to buy you a beer or two!