To space camp and beyond

Me and team Atlantis in 1999. We were so cool. You have no idea.

Me and team Atlantis in 1999. We were so cool. You have no idea.

When I was in the fifth grade, I won a scholarship to attend a space camp in Ogden, Utah.

I was skinny, awkward and terrified of everything. It was the same year I started wearing glasses and getting boobies. It was terrifying. Personally I’ve always believed I was the epitome of awkward pre-teen in every single possible way. There just wasn’t much I liked about myself or the world around me.

Astro Camp changed that. A little bit. It was a week of hanging out with other kids who were equally intrigued by Newton’s Laws, engineering, space and the possibilities of the universe. I loved it.

I loved it so much I even managed to raise enough money to go again the following year.

It was the one week in 52 where I felt like me. I wasn’t ugly, friendless and strange at Astro Camp. I was smart, funny, pretty, likable and the best co-pilot on team. (No really, I actually won a blue ribbon for that one.) It was an intense week for a socially awkward loner of kid who was deeply homesick most of the time. I had to swim and even worse wear a swimming suit in front of boys. I had to wear my glasses all the time because there’s no landing a simulated spacecraft without sight. I had my first kiss. I cried a little for my family. But mostly I found my place, a tiny little corner of the universe where I could be excited about gravity and stars. A place where everyone was cool with me excitedly blurting out the story of Andromeda in a home-made planetarium.

It was awesome!

I miss the care free kind of way summer slips by in childhood, especially at space camp.

BTW as an adult, I love dropping the “space camp twice” bomb on anyone who thinks I’m not nerdy enough to love astronomy. Boom! Yeah, I know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is and I understand why we’re “all made of stardust.” I only wish I was as bad ass as Astronaut Abby.

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