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.