Category Archives: Camp

Reminiscing

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!

Sinner vs. Center

Tonight when I heard of the passing of former Mississippi State great and Buffalo Bills, Kent Hull, I was transported back to French Camp, Mississippi. Kent was a member of the Buffalo Bills teams that went to four Super Bowls. He was selected to 4 Pro Bowl teams. But most impressive, Jim Kelly touched his butt on a regular basis.

Kent Hull also sent his son to camp each summer at Camp of the Rising Son. I remember one afternoon Chief Brad Herod retelling a story from Bible Study. Chief Brad is one of my absolute favorite people in the whole world. He had been teaching his little Choctaw boys what being a SINNER meant. Kent’s son looked up at Chief Brad and proudly proclaim, “My father is the best CENTER in the world, he plays for the Buffalo Bills.” Little Mr. Hull was confused by Chief Brad’s thick Mississippi accent. When Chief Brad was teaching that “all have sinned and fallen short of the kingdom of God!” Chief Brad was not talking about wide right in the 1991 Super Bowl.

The pride of a young son looking up to his dad is so precious. This is one of my favorite camp stories. I felt like tonight would be a great night to share it! Thank you Chief Brad and thank you Kent Hull for being a Bulldog!

Happy

Happy is an adjective defined as, delighted, pleased, or glad. Most everyone across America would agree that happy is used to describe an emotion or state of mind. But have you ever heard the word happy used to describe a gift. It has been brought to my attention twice this week by friends that this use of the word happy is a “Mississippi thing.”

There are all sorts of gifts in this world. You commonly know Christmas gifts and birthday gifts; but there are also wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, baptism gifts, confirmation gifts, bar mitzvah gifts and so on. Growing up, when my grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle, friend, or next door neighbor would give me a gift just because, it was called a “happy.” A happy is a small gift given on a day that is not a holiday or birthday. This type of gift is given just to make you happy. No other reason is needed for a happy. It could just be a candy bar from the store when you mother returns from shopping.

Has anyone else heard a gift called a “happy”?

Recently, I have been organizing my office at camp. Sara (a.k.a. Rachel Ray) commented that I have a lot of cool stuff in my office. I have a rubber duck collection, mission patches on the wall, a collection of small stuffed animals given to me when I was teaching, and several shot glasses. Most all this stuff was given to my as a happy, something given to me just to make me happy.

To honor those gifts – happies – and to find something to write about other than camp, the barn, or a reflection on why I am a goober, I am going to pick one item from my corkboard to write about over the next few weeks. If it is well received I will move on from there. These posts will probably make for short readings. But I have realized, I have met some really awesome people in my life and this would be a great writing exercise. My hope is these entries will make you happy.

Bravo Romeo Charlie

Photo By Al WhitikerBe Ready Camp is over for 2010. Will we have BRC 2011, only our next governor knows?  As for me, if this was our last year of BRC, I don’t think we could have ended it better! The final mock disaster was perfect, Gumbo made a great Incident Commander. The BRC staff was better and more knowledgeable than ever!

The special thing about BRC is the kids are my people! They come from the rural areas around Alabama. People from the first responder corps and blue collar men and women send their kids to BRC. Even the fire boys and paramedics who help out are my people. I found out that a Huntsville fire captain who has helped since BRC1 is a cotton farmer! People don’t get much better than farmers!

The staff seems to give a little more as well. Fireball works only on Friday to take care of the UAHuntsville nursing students. Snapper and Slip Knot have their favorite briefings. I love teaching Incident Command. The leadership skills that I have learned from BRC are more valuable than any book, lecture, or class on the subject. We teach things such as planning for a disaster. We teach kids to use common sense and keep their heads about them when chaos is all around them. It is a life skills camp, which is why it is so important.

On Friday night with smoke all around and a MedFlight helicopter hovering over the lake, I told someone that the mock disaster looked more realistic than ever. I was hoping the kids would respond with a great performance too. This week was a little bit of a struggle, but the kids rocked the mock disaster out! Each year, I am so proud of the kids and staff for their hard work on Friday night!  This year was a little more special.

BRC graduations are a little different than Aviation Challenge grads. We have more parents for six teams of BRC campers than we do for ten teams of AC campers. The parents and the campers are so thankful for the camp. I stand in one place under the bubble and here thank you for the campers and parents. It makes all the extra work of BRC worth it! At the end of my career, I will look back at BRC and still be proud to have been a part of the camp! It is truly a special camp!

If you have worked Be Ready Camp, why is it special to you?

Fueling the Dream

On Friday night, Space Camp held its fourth annual Space Camp Hall of Fame celebration to induct four new members into the HOF family. After months of preparation, and in my opinion with three previous HOF events as practice, we had the best ever HOF event. While it took us a few years to get the full vision of the event worked out; sometimes it takes a little time to get the recipe right. If I can continue with the cooking analogy, the HOF Executive Chef was Mike Flachbart, he was the sole reason the event was such a success.

I arrived at work just after six o’clock. It was like Christmas morning, I could not sleep the night before and I was just ready for the biggest event ever for Space Camp. Not the largest for the USSRC or the largest in number of attendees for Space Camp, but Space Camp Hall of Fame 2010 was years in the making. It had finally arrived and was a mix of huge wedding and giant family reunion. Even the previous day was filled with buzz and anticipation as guests and friends arrived in Huntsville.  These feelings carried on to Friday morning.

Friday morning at graduation we had special guests Don Thomas and Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger. Dottie is Space Camp’s first astronaut, a teacher and a really nice person. She graduated from Space Academy in April of 1990 and twenty years later flew onboard STS 131 in April of 2010. On STS 131 she carried with her two pair of camp wings. I was greatly honored to be there when they were presented back to Space Camp. Helping get the wings into space has been one of my proudest endeavors as a Space Camp staffer. I was shocked that she took photos of the wings while on the ISS. It was very kind of Dottie to fly the wings and even more thoughtful to take pictures of them on orbit.

The inductees this year were Francis French, David Hnyda, Andrea Hanson, and Danny Jaques. Each inductee is very accomplished in their field and has made Space Camp very proud. Francis was a camper and now is the director of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. David Hnyda and Andrea Hanson were both Space Camp counselors. David is currently at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Andrea is a post-doctoral research scientist and engineer continuing her passion of Space Life Sciences. Danny Jaques is a middle school teacher in Colorado and has shared the dream of Space Camp by bringing dozens of his students to camp each spring.

There to help celebrate these worthy inductees where a large number of other Space Camp Hall of Famers. Staff, community leaders, friends, and families were in attendance. Also there was Max Q, the all astronaut band. Having Max Q there was an accomplishment that was two years in the making. We asked the band several times but schedules and shuttle launches prevented the group from attending. Sitting in with the band was one of the founding members, Hoot Gibson. Hoot is definitely a friend to Space Camp. And if you didn’t see the Weather Channel on Friday morning, Stephanie Abrams was at camp doing the weather and to be emcee of the Hall of Fame event.

Needless to say, it was an amazing night. But amazing nights require hard work and preparation. I think the best part of the preparation was during the sound check for Max Q. A dozen counselors were setting up tables and center pieces under the mighty Saturn V as a band played in the background. It wasn’t just any band.  It was the all astronaut band. Moments like that, I realize how truly lucky I am to work at such an awesome place. Honestly, I felt that way most all of Friday.

So looking back at it all and reflecting on an amazing day. I am so proud to be a part of Space Camp! I love the place. It is a camp and educational facility where kids gain self confidence as they learn what it takes to explore the world of space and aviation. Don Thomas talked at graduation about the sign above the doors at Space Camp – Through these doors enter the next generation of Astronauts, Scientists, and Engineers. But it really wasn’t completely true until Dottie visited the ISS this spring. The dream of von Braun is still alive and well in Huntsville, Alabama. Not even a dull politician can extinguish that flame. I am just thankful to be part of this great place… even if I am mean! Thanks Danny!

Wedding Gown

I visited Camp of the Rising Son this week. It was wonderful visiting briefly with the camp staff and experiencing all the sights and sounds of camp again. I am truly amazed at how that place has shaped who I am today. Looking back, there are a few crystal clear moments that I remember impacting my life. Others are concepts and values that have become the backbone of my leadership and management philosophy.

One of the first things I learned is there must always be someone in charge. During my first three summers working at CRS, I served the campers as an Assistant Counselor or AC. The role of AC was to help serve the campers at meal times, help the Counselor in the cabin, and teach activities throughout the day. Waiting the table at meal times was the most daunting, especially when you are in Cheyenne cabin at the end of the dining hall. The Counselor’s job was to lead the group of campers and the AC through all the cabin’s activities. It was compared to the role of a family. The father is the leader and the mother helps and cares for all the needs of the family. I know, old fashion sounding, but it worked. This idea of service was so deeply-rooted in my camping philosophy when I became a Counselor, I would serve one meal each day. I wanted to serve my AC, April Gunn Duval, to show her how much I appreciated her. “Service before self” was the motto I learned quickly at CRS.

I have discussed the motto “camp is for the camper” a few times. I guess it is crazy to think that in putting others first you will be getting more out of the experience than if you put yourself first. So often the leadership at CRS would remind the young teenage and twenty-something staff that we were there to build relationships with the campers not each other. However, camp staff relationships would spring up without even knowing. There is a dynamic at camp that makes people want to open up and share life experiences. I think, because you share so much of your time with 12 kids and 50 staff members doing the same thing, eating the same food, living and working on the same schedule you simply bond.

Some of my best friends have come from CRS, Twin Lakes, Space Camp, and Aviation Challenge. Why? Because you share this dynamic, sometimes life changing, experience with another individual, and you want to stay in touch. You want to keep living on the mountain top that is camp! But everyone comes down from the mountain top. Each summer for years, I have experienced this blue phase. Call it a mini depression or just a slump, the point is I am sad when summer is over and all my new friends are at their homes and I am left behind. This all started at CRS. I remember telling my mom I missed having snack time at 830 each night before bed time when I returned home from camp.

The last thing I learned from CRS is to give all I have to camp. Give my heart, my soul, and even my earthly position to camp. At CRS there was a program closet with lots of costumes and props. In that dusty moth ball laden closet was a wedding gown. It wasn’t mine, I wasn’t married yet. It was Chief Margie’s. Chief Margie and her husband built CRS and she gave so much to that camp. She poured her heart into it each day.

My wedding gown is in the attic of my in-laws house. I don’t think Space Camp needs my wedding gown. The example of making your job fun and personal was instilled in me at a young age. However, recently I have been made to feel like a job is just a job, but it is so much more to me. If camp is for the camper then my job isn’t just a J-O-B. It is something more; it is something deeper and more dynamic.

In a day and age where weddings are the most precious thing in a woman’s life, I feel like the gift of a wedding gown to a program closet is the ultimate symbol of “camp is for the camper.” The camper experience is one of dynamic friendships and life changing days under the watchful eyes of the camp staff. If you pour yourself into your job and you give service to others, you will be rewarded by all the friendships you will make along the way. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Ninja

In the past week, I have been referred to as a ninja twice. This seems somewhat odd and foreign to me since I don’t know martial arts, I am not of Asian decent, nor do I wear black pajamas to work. I felt I needed to dispel this myth. I am not a ninja; however, the more I thought about this odd title of ninja that people have used to describe me I started to believe it myself. Below, I have listed a few details to support my claim to the ninja title.

I wear khaki all the time. Currently I spend most of my day in the ETF building at Space Camp. It has khaki colored walls. There are many forms of camouflage. Black pajamas are the camouflage of choice for the ninja we are familiar with in pop culture. Ninjas use covert methods to wage war on their enemy. I have been described as stealthy in my ninja-like movement around camp. I seem to pop up in the most random places. This movement is only concealed by my khaki pants.

Fear does not exist in a ninja! When faced with a snake, red wasp, or grizzly bear around camp I do not give into fear. Ok, we may not have grizzlies at camp but we have skunks and nutria. Nutrias are similar to the R.O.U.S.’s or rodents of unusual sizes. I have captured a few nutrias in my time and fended off snakes. Just the other day, I snatched a red wasp from the arm pit of an AC counselor. This feat of bravery helped start the ninja myth.

Rather than samurai swords, I carry freshly sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Everyone knows that the pencil is mightier than the sword. When my ninja skills are weak, I carry two pencils with me. The #2 pencil is very powerful!

To conclude, these few examples are weak at best to support my claim as a ninja. I will need to face the facts that I am not a ninja. My khaki pants and Oakley sunglasses are not the uniform of a ninja. My quick reflexes around dangerous creatures are still not fast enough to make me a ninja. Finally, has anyone ever seen a pasty, red headed, Anglo-Saxon ninja? So truly, I am not a ninja!

Why No Post?

I haven’t been blogging recently; maybe I am just blocking the whole output of emotional or creative flow. My life has changed so much in the last three weeks. I have learned the one thing that can make Red Bull cry. I have started grad school. I have visited family and friends. And, I have limited my time at the Barn. I write a lot about my personal life, dreams, and feelings and I guess I have avoided that by not blogging. (WOW, I have been watching too much Glee! Drama isn’t my strong suit.)

We lost my brother, Will, in 1985. He was my best friend. True, he was my brother and that is not always the case with siblings, but Will was a special little kid. In 1992, I ventured to Camp Garawya in Clinton, Mississippi for an Acteen’s weekend. God did one of those “God things” in my life that weekend. He showed me a tiny, little part of his plan for my life. That part was sticky, hot and humid summer camp! More over, I saw the over arching theme of working with kids in my future.

Before then, I had shallow dreams of being an astronaut or maybe an architect. In 1994, I decided at Camp of the Rising Son that I would be an educator, for two reasons, the first being summers off. The second and most important reason, I get to work with kids. I don’t know why I have a gift with kids, but I do! Being a teacher at St. Paul and Discovery Middle was awesome; I got to see how kids matured over 10 months not just a week. I got to try new ways to present materials. At Delta State, I had a college professor tell me I would never make a good teacher because I have issues with spelling and writing. My message to her is, sit on a tack or in her case a rake.

I learned it really doesn’t matter if you can spell if you want to inspire people to grow and learn. Teach kids to dream big dreams. That has been my motto for a while. Working at the Barn has allowed me to work with kids at times, heck Cameron Drape and her Turkey Plates exercised my mad ninja kid skills once or twice. Leaving the Barn tonight, Manhattan Chair pointed out something that is important for me to remember. Kids are important to me. I love teaching and inspiring kids to mature and discover the world around them.

Why do you think that is? I go back to my best buddy, little Will. He loved learning; he wanted to be everything from a cowboy to a cook, from a doctor to a dozer driver. I love working with kids, because it reminds me of my little brother. He is my inspiration. It isn’t about working at a camp or in a classroom. So tonight when I started saying goodbye to the Barn, I was also saying good bye to something else. Working with kids is important to who I am. Yes, I am bigger and deeper than this blog could ever describe, but this is my inspiration. I have struggled for a few weeks on how to express this feeling in my heart, but now I found the right words.

Decision Making

“Camp is for the camper” is a motto that Chief Margie Newman pounded into the heads of the entire camp staff at Camp of the Rising Son.  My first summer at CRS was 1994. I was in between my junior and senior year of high school. I wasn’t quiet sure where I was going to college or what I would do with the rest of my life, but those words would play a huge role in some of the decisions I would make in my young adult life.

I studied elementary education at Delta State so I could leave my options open to work at summer camps. I worked at CRS, Twin Lakes, Cedar Point, and a few other special needs camps during college. I knew that camp was for the camper and I loved working at camps. I became a student of camping. I joined the American Camping Association just so I could learn more about camp management. I have lived camp, breathed camp, and eaten a lot of camp stew in my eighteen years of camp obsession.

For the past seven years I have spent every summer day around a man made, chlorinated lake. I have made Aviation Challenge my camping passion. I pulled my hair out at times, had the police called once, and enjoyed every mildew moment driving the Raptor. If you cut me, I think I would bleed OD green. Working around the lake has given me the experience of Be Ready Camp. BRC has taught me more about leadership than any workshop or leadership activity ever could.

Currently I am making the transition away from Aviation Challenge to help in Education. I don’t want to leave my roots of camp management. I enjoy calling parents and encouraging campers to overcome homesickness. I really don’t want to move away from camp, the kids, or the staff. I am torn, what is best for camp and the campers?

I have learned that leaders must make clear decisions. Have your ever been faced with a decision where your heart and your head were further apart than Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin? That is what I have been facing recently, to move on or move up? I am reminded of Chief Margie’s motto, camp is for the camper! At camp, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are putting the campers first.

Training Popcorn

Growing up I got the chance to go to Space Camp!!! It was twenty years ago and I was just like all the other kids attending Space Camp; I wanted to be an astronaut. I remember all the fun lectures on overhead projectors, the simulators, and finishing the night at IMAX. We watched Hail Columbia, Destiny in Space, and The Dream is Alive. All three IMAX movies captured the excitement and fascination with human space flight. I remember being amazed by the IMAX projector alone.

The staff training session this month had the potential to be the best ever. We had hundreds of applicants over the fall, and interviewed over 90 of them. We started the first day with 49 new staff members, all very qualified and with lots of kid experience; however, there wasn’t a space geek among them. They didn’t really get the early Space Shuttle program that I got to watch as a child. See, most all the staff we hired were born in the late 80s. This was a little troublesome since this would be a year of conversion: We were attempting to shift our focus away form Apollo history and shuttle simulations to a view of space flight history and lunar missions.

Training chugged along with tests and teach-backs. Some staff dropped while others didn’t make the cut. The level of stress was a little high when we hit the end of our second week. Things would change at the beginning of this week. We would all attend training classes led by Hoot Gibson, Space Shuttle superstar! The youngsters in the training group began to see what the early STS program looked like in the 80s and 90s. Hoot was there at the very beginning of the shuttle program. He was a member of the 1978 astronaut class, he flew the number four chase plane when STS 1 landed at Edwards in 1981 and he flew five times in space.

The ups and downs of training are just like the ups and downs of the shuttle program. With every struggle we learn something valuable. At the beginning of the week the group didn’t understand about the Challenger disaster and only had a few clues about the Columbia disaster. At the end of the week, as we all gathered in IMAX to watch Hail Columbia and The Dream is Alive, it all seemed to make sense.

I can make sense of where I am in the world. I didn’t grow up to be an astronaut, I grew up to be an educator; not in a classroom, but at Space Camp. I get to teach briefings such as LIKES, Service Standards, and others. I get to write tests and work with staff mentors. In this wild and crazy week where news articles reported the President may cut the NASA mission to return to the moon, forty something new Space Camp staff learned and grew as a team. I sent a package of Space Camp wings to an alumnus to fly on her flight aboard STS-131 and maybe, just maybe I will be there for the launch. I enjoy my place in the world.  The best part of working at Space Camp is that I get to watch IMAX movies on Friday afternoons.

Welcome to 2010

Survival TrainingI started this grand and glorious year with my brother and nephews at Pilot/Co-Pilot camp, a program of Aviation Challenge. It was so much fun! Whoever runs that place is a redheaded mastermind of fun! It was great hanging out with my family at AC for the weekend! It didn’t matter that Reece, call sign Pigskin, looked like a homeless Vietnam War vet. God love the little man, but he doesn’t care how he looks. Rhett, call sign Yankee, was concerned with shooting Alvin down. We all wanted to seek revenge on someone. We are a very competitive family! Shot down everyone in the sims and won the Flag Award. We had our fire built before Cornbread came back to the Boy Scout Area with matches.

Great weekend. I think Walt and I will be remembered as the college football people (Ole Miss and Florida played in Bowl games), because everyone knows I have to keep up with Urban Meyer and his boy! Ole Miss, I was hoping, would get wrangled by the OSU Cowboys. Great weekend only leads me to believe this will be a great year!

I am looking forward to training the newbies, presenting at SEEC and Honeywell Leadership Academy, the Star Wars exhibit, another AC 12 Day camp, and who knows, maybe another trip to Prescott for Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale and a PBC Wedge, or maybe, just maybe a winning season for MSU football! This year I started a really cool five year journal. Every day for five years I will add a paragraph about the day. Quick thoughts, maybe the quote of the day or something like that. Sounds like fun!

With the new journal, I am going to make a few changes this New Year. And they are as follows:

  1. Wear more pink, “Pink is my signature color!”
  2. Watch more reality TV. I want to create a new show, “Real Housewives of the Barn.”
  3. Be more huggie! Being affectionate is the true sign of a great leader!
  4. Stop using Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Truly, you can’t tell a difference in Dixons and the Staple’s brand.
  5. Finally, break up with Peyton; I think I am more interested in younger men now. Tim Tebow is a hottie!

Good luck and God Bless in 2010!

My Space Camp Adventure

Pathfinder out my window at Space CampRight after my alarm clock goes off each morning I start my preparations for work. This ritual is true for millions and millions of Americans. I shower, brush my teeth, feed the dog, put on some clothes, and so on. I then get into my Toyota 4Runner and drive to work while I listen to Rick & Bubba on the radio. I am sure you are familiar with this routine. However, unlike most Americans I end my commute into work by parking by a space shuttle. No, I don’t work for NASA, I work for Space Camp!

Working at Space Camp is probably the greatest job in the world; at least it is for me. Growing up I was captivated by space flight. I remember my mom calling me inside to watch Challenger’s maiden voyage launch from Kennedy Space Center. This was the mission were hometown hero Donald Peterson and Story Musgrave performed the first EVA of the shuttle program. I was hooked on space from that moment forward. Donald Peterson visited my school growing up and working at Space Camp has allowed me to meet Story Musgrave.

In seventh grade I persuaded my parents to send me to Space Camp! I was headed for a career as an astronaut or fighter pilot. For me, Space Camp was not only a great place to learn about math and science but it was also far more of a cultural experience. I am a cotton farmer’s kid from Mississippi. I got to meet kids from all over the United States. There was a kid who could speak Russian and one that would be studying in France during the summer. Kids from other countries attended camp. They all loved space and wanted to study math, science, engineering, and technology.

In high school my focus did change from wanting to be an astronaut or engineer to wanting to work with children. I wanted to teach or work at a summer camp. After leaving Huntsville in the spring of 1990 I wouldn’t return to see the rockets until 1999. I was in my final semester of college doing my student teaching at a school in Madison Mississippi. The fifth grade attended Space Camp each year. I was re-energized about space and would join the staff the very next summer as a counselor.

For the next few years I would work during the summer at Space Camp and teach school in Mississippi. It was a great combination. I knew more about the space program than most anybody in my small town. Some people thought I actually worked for NASA, but I was simply a camp counselor. My summer time job would eventually lead to a position in the education department and then the chance to work in camp operations. I am lucky enough to be working in the recruitment and training of new staff – the camp counselors. I am living my dream. No, I am not an astronaut, but I get to inspire the next generation of explorers. No, I am not a fighter pilot, but my call sign is Red Bull. I do get to work with some of the greatest people in the whole wide world!

Working at camp I have met moonwalkers and shuttle commanders. But the greatest thing about camp is the kids that flood through the doors. They come here with open eyes and minds to learn about what is possible. Yes, it is hard work and the hours are sometimes exhausting. The whole experience is so amazing. Each year we recruit some of the best and brightest to work with our campers. Most of our new counselors know nothing about the space program, we teach them everything they will ever need to know, including Alan Shepherds’ pre-launch story. We have staff in all phases of their life. We have college kids, new graduates, adventurous sojourners, empty nesters, and a few retirees on staff as Space Camp counselors.

Currently we are looking for our next class of Space Camp counselors. We are trying to get the word out. The recruitment team has visited college campuses and there has been an online effort. Often people hear about Space Camp job opportunities through moms, dads, aunts and uncles. Sometime people are trying to find a year round camp job. Either way if you are reading this blog please help me find people to work at camp. We are looking for bright, energetic, adventurous, fun loving, team minded camp counselors. We are looking for people that want to encourage and enrich the lives of young people. If you know someone send them to our website for prospective staff at www.spacecamp.com/counselors.

Other places to find Space Camp Counselor Stuff:

http://www.backdoorjobs.com/

http://www.coolworks.com/

http://www.acacamps.org/jobs/

http://twitter.com/spacecampusa

I love my job!!! I don’t want to work anywhere else in the world. I want to share my life of learning and teaching with every space geek in the world. I am very lucky to work at Space Camp and I strongly encourage anyone who has a passion for teaching young people and the freedom to live a Space Camp adventure to apply today!