From time to time I'll post a guest article from one of the Space Center's 'old timers'. Old Timers are volunteers and staff that have moved on in life but still remain a part of the Center either through occasional visits (even to volunteer) or through emails and letters. This post was written by Austin E. (he is still a minor so I cannot include his full last name). I want to thank Austin for taking time to write and submit this.
As requested by the esteemed and "HONOR"able bossman, I have been given the task of writing a segment about my experience, and memories of the place in this edition of "The Troubador". I accepted, knowing my absence at that place must be a blessing upon mankind, so if I can bring a temporary bad taste to your mouths, then I must do so, with extreme pleasure. (Just kidding... or am I?)
As we all know, the beloved space center has been around for many ages, ranging from the old, spooky, and very... uhm... shall we say, interesting Voyager, to the new and "improved" Phoenix, and of course everything in between. (The Galileo being the futhest excluded) And as such, I have many memories, some good, others bad. But even being my rebellious, and punk nature, I never outgrew the magic and laughter that came from it.
In my younger days as a little trouble maker, I was always in trouble, either from talking back to the teacher, to throwing something in class and getting my recess revoked, or my activities taken from me. But there came a day when I was told about this Space Center that we would be going on a school feild trip to. I was so excited, I could barely keep from shouting out loud! I had been an avid fan of Star Trek (in secret of course), and when asked about it, I shrugged, and said, "Eh. It will get me outta class for a while, right?" But my teacher noticed an extreme change in my behavior.
The first thing I remember about the center was when I took my first steps up the twisted staircase of the Voyager. I was in total awe. The giant viewscreen displayed a crystal clear image of the computer screens, and the music was blasting loudly, with Vics old loading music. I was dumbstruck.
In that instant, my popularity melted away, and my self awareness disappeared. I couldn't make a sound, and my jaw was dropped. As I was guided to my seat at damage control, and I took a seat heavily, I knew in that instant, this was something I needed to be a part of.
I was performing like a champion at my post, repairing systems as the began to appear like bills, and I never once got bored with my job. The time flew by like no other and before I knew it, the music stopped, the screens went blank, and I heard Mr. W's booming voice tell us it was time to return to reality, and I almost wanted to scream. I was at home sitting in that uncomfortable chair. I was alive clicking rapidly on instructions and running papers down to the communications station. And in an instant, I blinked and it was all over. I reluctantly pulled off my uniform, and folded it, taking my time to perfectly fold it into a square, as to prolong my experience. As everyone shuffled off the bridge, I was at last alone, save for the blue shirt collecting uniforms. Ignoring him, I turned around to my seat, and silently said my farewells, placing a forgiving hand on the rail as I turned away, sighing as I walked down the steps.
I guess for me, this was a stepping stone in my life. I have held this place as a temple, a holy ground in which only the truly, and worthy could ever hope to understand. I love how much it has turned out to be a place to bring not only campers closerer together but also its staff. Growing up has been a struggle for me, but I have made many lifelong friends and met so many special people there. I will never be able to replace these friend and memories.
I don't know what the CMSEC means to all of you who have taken the time to read this. But for me it has been a gleaming beacon in the distance and a lighthouse for the lost. It is a place to find unity, to build friendships, as well as a sense of security in knowing your not alone. I have found many friends and even love in this place. So, comrades, we are one together and the magic will always remain in its halls and decks so long as we stay united. And most importantly, never forget why it is there. We are the instruments in which it needs to survive and without your help, it won't stay on course.
That's it for me. I will return to my life working as a mechanic for Toyota and you will return to checking your email. But let's never forget the place where we always find acceptance and will never be turned away from. The Center has many years left in her and if we help her and its captain through the gauntlet, we will live to see her prosper, and live on, long after we are gone.
With my regards, respect and love,