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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Our First School Year Camp and Lice.........?

Hello Troops,
We finished our first school year overnight camp Saturday morning at 10:00 A.M. It was a pleasant change from the summer program. This change has been eagerly anticipated by the staff and volunteers. You could see and feel the difference throughout the camp. The mood was more positive. I saw more smiles and felt a real optimism. This type of change is good for the staff because it marks the passage of time and keeps us refreshed and attentive.

The Space Center has two seasons and each season has its unique characteristics
School Year Season:
This season starts with the second overnight camp of October. This is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated season. The weather turns cooler and the evenings get darker. With darker evenings, our mission’s landing parties take place in darker school hallways. This is a good thing. When the kids come out of the ship into the darkened halls of the school to meet some mission objective in a deserted starship or starbase or alien world, they can’t look outside and see a 21st century Earth neighborhood.
The Fall Season brings an end to the public camps and a start of the school camps. Public camps are fantastic but by October we are ready for camps with kids that have never been to the Center before, or perhaps just once for a school field trip. They come with overflowing enthusiasm. These new campers haven’t done our longer missions. This gives our Flight Directors greater latitude in deciding which missions to tell. They can tell their favorite mission without worrying if someone has done it before.
Now, there are downsides to every season and these downsides slowly build on the staff until they are ready for another change. When the School Year Season reaches this point at the end of May the Summer Season is ready to emerge and energize us.

Summer Season
The Summer Season starts with the first overnight camp in June and lasts until the first weekend of October. By June the staff grows weary of the non experienced crews and eagerly await the return of the veterans. Our veterans are our higher ranking campers and students that have been to the Center many times. They don’t need as much attention as our new campers. They know the ropes and adapt quickly into the missions. They give the staff real challenges because they know the simulators so well. Many of these veterans are well known to the staff. It is good to see them back again to catch up on old times. These summer campers appreciate the Center. If they are really good, a Flight Director can increase the difficulty level of the mission. This makes it fun for a Flight Director, especially after finishing eight months of the school year season and telling our basic stories.

My Thoughts on the First School Year Camp
This camp was hosted by Lindon Elementary’s Fifth Grade. Of the 44 campers only six or seven had been to the Center before. Because they all came from the same school and hadn’t done our missions, it was easy to place them into the simulators. I was expecting several headaches and upset stomachs because of their age but was surprised with only one request for the Happy Bucket (the bucket children are encourage to request when they feel the urge to vomit). The request came at 3:30 A.M. when Jon woke me to tell me that one of our young men was sick and thought he might throw up. I reminded Jon where the Happy Bucket was stored. It was given to the youngster. I directed to boy to the drinking fountain and then a chair. I sent Jon back to bed. The camper sat for a few minutes. My experience told me that most late night sicknesses are actually forms of homesickness or fright. I asked him if he would like to leave the crew quarters and sleep up on the bridge closer to the chaperones. He liked the idea. I moved him up to the Left Wing section of the Bridge. I sat the Bucket next to him and went back to bed in the Briefing Room. Fifteen minutes later, at 4:00 A.M., I heard a rustling on the stairs. I knew it was him. He walked over to me with the Happy Bucket saying he still wasn’t feeling well. I asked him if he would like to move into the Briefing Room. I showed him that I slept right in front of my desk and the staff were camped out around the corner in the Odyssey. He liked the idea of getting out of the Voyager. I moved him right in front of the Odyssey doorway. I laid back down. A few minutes later I heard him call out from across the room. “Im feeling better,” he said. I was right - it was a combination of home sickness and fright. He was fine for the rest of the night.
That kind of thing is expected during the school year - especially with campers who have never slept away from home before. Going away to camp and toughing it out without the familiar and comforting surroundings of home is a big first step in growing up and learning independence.

Not me, but how I feel many times in the morning. My orange vest is much nicer. I can live without the hat.

I’ve Got Lice
You didn’t expect to read that did you? Before you jump to conclusions, let me alleviated your fear that Mr. Williamson has lice. I don’t. Here is the short story that goes with that title.
Every school day at 8:45 A.M. I go outside and monitor one of the school’s crosswalks. My job is to make sure the students get across the street safely and to keep an eye on them until the bell rings. I’ve been doing this for nearly eight years. In that eight years I’ve seen and heard many things from our students. This week I was blessed with another gem.
A young third grade girl approached me from the north on her scooter.
“Remember to walk your scooter,” I reminded her when she was close enough to hear. She promptly jumped off the scooter and walked up to me. She stopped and looked up at me.
“I’ve got lice,” she said as a matter of fact. What was I going to say to that statement? My usual “That’s nice” almost left my lips. That response is good in most situations but not that one!
“Are you seeing the school nurse?” I asked. There was no one else in ear shot.
“Yes, I’m using a special shampoo. I got the lice from ............. because ............. and.....................,” her story went on. I got a blow by blow account of the lice’s spreading from that girl to her and how that girl still had ‘the lice’ and she was ‘getting them clean’.
Then, just as abruptly as the conversation had started, it ended. She was away flipping her long hair. I had one of those ‘Office’ moments. In the TV show “The Office” the characters glance at the camera every time something embarrassing is said or done. Well, I gave one of those “Office” looks to the telephone pole after the girl walked away. Then I chuckled for the rest of my morning duty. Kids say the craziest things.

Well, it is time to wrap this up. We have a short week. Our UEA vacation starts Thursday.

Mr. Williamson
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