Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I've Escaped


Hello Troops,
I've escaped. I've left the fortress of Utah on silver steed with white contrails for a land far away. I'll explore a castle. I'll dine in Mexico. I'll battle a Maelstrom in a viking long boat. I'll mount an expedition to Everest. I'll eat fish and chips in an English pub.
I'll do all of this in the span of five days.
How?
I'm sure you will figure it out. Give it some thought. I'll see you all upon my return Friday.

And now, with belongings in tow, I walk across the drawbridge and step onto adventure's unpredictable road.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Comings and Goings. An Update

We have goodbyes and hellos for this post.
Bracken Funk directed his last Overnight Camp on Friday. He ran his signature story ‘Silhouette’. His final scores were good enough to take first place in the post camp surveys.
Bracken leaves on Wednesday for the MTC in Provo. A few weeks later he will leave Utah. Houston Texas is his final destination.
The Overnight Camp was picture perfect. The scores were good (not great) and the kids were excellent in both behavior and performance. The Happy Bucket was given out but not used - a mark of another great camp. Equipment problems were fixed without delay. There was one small incident that stained the tranquility of an almost perfect camp. At 11:10 P.M. we were in the cafeteria giving the campers ice cream. Lorraine and I stood there in a semi conscious state staring, but not really seeing, the kids as they ate. You know how your mind drifts when tired. My half slumber was disturbed by a staff member telling me the police were outside and wanting to see me about an incident reported by the neighbors. I was busy with the campers and sent Mr. Schuler out instead. With ice cream consumed I walked the boys to the gym. They picked up their gear. Our final stop was the lobby. The boys dropped their things and headed to the restrooms for a final break before bed. I had a minute so I walked outside, behind the Voyager, and found several policeman along with Mr. Schuler, Bracken and a few other volunteers standing near the gym wall. Bill told me the police drew a gun on him when he went outside.
“That’s ‘over the top’ for a noise complaint,” I said looking at the approaching officers.
“It was more than a noise,” he said. “Someone was throwing dry ice bombs and one went off next to a policeman,” he responded.
Sure enough, the story was repeated by the officer. He added another fact omitted by Bill. The policeman was moving around the back of the school toward the large outside air conditioner used by the school’s new addition. Near the cooling unit he saw something with red flashing lights. It looked like a bomb! He moved closer to the black object with blinking lights apprehensive as to its purpose. Just then, another dry ice bomb dropped behind the officer and exploded. Needless to say, the police were in a very bad mood and determined to catch the delinquents.
The bomb was actually one of our Space Center props set outside by the Voyager staff for their landing party. It was innocent but easily misunderstood. The police wanted to get on the school’s roof to find the culprits. I let them up through the ladder in the custodian’s closet. They found nothing. Whoever it was got away. I wouldn’t want to be them if the police ever find out. I’m sure it would be a minimum of ten years community service and a fine so large they would finally get out of debt to the Pleasant Grove City on their eighty-sixth birthday. I was relieved the Space Center wasn't blamed for the officer’s thrilling night out. The experience was added spice to Bracken’s last mission!
On Saturday afternoon the Programming Guild met at the Space Center for Brent Anderson’s last meeting and official resignation. Brent officially turned the reigns of the Guild to Bridger Maxwell. Brent will be attending BYU this fall, followed by an LDS mission. He hopes to enter the MTC in December. Brent came to me years ago as a youngling with a dream to build his own simulator at his home. He was in the process of raising money. One of his mentors told him to come to the Space Center and learn how I got the place started. I remember that meeting. Brent and his friend stood in front of me with grand ideas. I listened politely. A thought dawned on me as they spoke. If I could take that drive and enthusiasm and redirect it to the Space Center we would have a fantastic new and talented volunteer.
I asked Brent to come on board as a volunteer. He eagerly accepted and the rest is history. The Space Center thrived under Brent’s administration of the Programming Guild. Brent took us out of the dark ages in many respects by streamlining my work and making everything he touched work more efficiently. Brent was awesome. There is nothing more to be said. Both Brent and Bracken will be missed. Wait...... that is worded to weakly. They will be missed greatly!
We held a goodbye open house for both of them at my home Saturday night. It was well attended. We shared stories and memories and laughed for hours.
I went to listen to Bracken’s Farewell speech in Sacrament Meeting this morning. He did well. He overflows with self confidence which was evident to anyone listening to his talk.
I was impressed. I know he will be an unstoppable missionary. Watch out Texas - the Funkman is coming your way.

Brady’s Return

We are loosing two of our best. The clouds gathering over the Center appear dark and foreboding. Luckily a silver lining has been spotted. Brady Young has returned from his mission to Florida and is back at the Space Education Center eager and ready to resume his position as Voyager Flight / Set Director. Instead of crawling into a corner and rocking for weeks in fits of depression I’m sitting at my desk thinking we will all survive this hurricane roaring around us. Brady is back - one of our best.
For some reason, and always when we need the help, the right person seems to walk in the Briefing Room Door and say “Here I Am. You’ve been looking for me”. The Fates are with us again my friends and we dare not tempt them. We continue our lives happily knowing that someone or something in the vacuum of space has us under a watchful eye.

Now it is time to stop. Work hard and make each day better than the last.
Remember, the success to life is imagination, education and hard work. Take time each day to sharpen each of those legs on successe’s stool and you to will be unstoppable and nearly irreplaceable.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Space Education Center Update


Hello Troops,
The 2008-2009 School Year is out of the gates. The teachers and students are in full gallop and in good form. There are a few Space Center updates to post.

• All Alpine District schools are booked for their daytime field trips. I thought I’d run out of room this year. I didn’t . Thank the fates for that. One year, coming sooner rather than later, we will run out of days. Rationing will be put into effect. Hundreds of children will be left Space Centerless and destitute. Childhood depression rates will soar. Overall GPA’s will slope downward. I shutter to think what will happen if something isn’t done now.

• Non- Alpine Schools will be booked starting September 8th. There will be a mad rush for the available dates. It will be like the first day of Christmas sales at your local WalMart. What happens when I run out of days? It is something I’m dreading. How do you tell great teachers and students that there isn’t room for them anymore, especially if they’ve been regular attendees for years?

• The Odyssey is a mess! Matt, Emily, BJ, and Stacy have been working for the past several days installing a new station to take the place of the First Officer’s station (the one with the dials and switches). It will be a three panel position loaded with dials and switches. There are also plans for a touch screen. The Odyssey has its first mission of the new season this afternoon. Will the simulator be ready? I really don’t know. Frightening isn’t it? We live on the edge at the Space Center.

The Children of Perikoi

• I’m working on the mission and curriculum this year. We will be adding “The Children of Perikoi” to Field Trip Choice List.

That’s it troops. You’ve been updated. Now make it a great day.......

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Eve of the 2008-2009 School Year.

For many of you Monday will be the start of the 2008-2009 school year. I want to wish each of you success as you battle the dragon of ignorance. Remember, teachers are not your enemy. At times we can really irritate you and make life difficult but that is not our intent. We are academic coaches. A good teacher will teach you how to learn and where to obtain the best information.   You must do the learning!

The amount you learn is up to you. A teacher can lead you to the fountain of knowledge.  Do we teach you how to drink as well?  I don't think so.   Learning is an inborn trait.  Whether you like it or not, you are programmed to learn. Your brain wants to see and hear it all! There will never be enough hours in life to satisfy this thirst.  This means that learning is lifelong.   Get use to that - and for some of you - stop fighting it!    

Success in life comes directly from learning so - Love to Learn.   I love to learn. I love to apply what I learn to life. I have a causal interest in most things and a carnivorous appetite for a few things. They tend to be things I'm good at. It is the way all of us are wired. What are you good at?  Learn everything you can about it. Read every book on the subject. Apply what you learn. I urge my students to let their talents and interests guide their lives. Your talents and interests are like a compass, pointing the direction you should go. Those talents and interests will lead to a life of fulfillment. Ignore them, and you'll find life more difficult as you try to take a round ball and  shove it into a square hole. You understand my meaning.

I encourage you to give education the highest priority during the next nine months. School is your work. It is a vital link in the chain of civilization. Education will give you the tools necessary to take responsibility for this world when my generation retires and passes on to our reward. It is part of the great circle of life.

Take a minute and set academic goals for this year. What grades will be acceptable? Set your goals high enough to reach realistically. Let' s take life one step at a time. After each step, pause and get your footing and bearings. Realize where you are. Look behind to marvel at how far you've come and then look forward. Set the next goal and move on.

What about the bumps in the road? Ask any adult about bumps in the road. Anyone with gray hair has survived multiple pot holes and bumps in the road.   We have the aches and pains to prove it!   We've learned that life is an awesome teacher - it has been for me. I call it LIFE 101. Don't expect sympathy from LIFE 101. The tests are the tough and they usually come unannounced. Handle LIFE 101 seriously. When the bumps come, lean heavily on your family and friends for support. Remember, they can't take the bumps for you but they can help keep you steady and on a straight course.

Don't forget your faith. Understanding the broad picture has a very calming influence when faced with trials. Faith is the best shock absorber I've encountered.

Well Troops, That is all. I've given you the talk I wish someone would have given me when I was `getting' by in school. Do your best - what more can we ask and expect? Thank you for including the Space Center in your life.

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, August 7, 2008

OBSERVATIONS ON LIFE


Hello Troops,
The Space Center staff are on vacation and the ships are shut down. So how about a few observations on life? Which is your favorite and why? I'll share mine and the reason at the end of this post.

Here we go......

1. I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and think, "Well, that's not going to happen."

2. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

3. The other night I ate at a really nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.

4. Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder in the car these days, no one talks about seeing UFO's like they used to?

6. You know when you're sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.

6. According to a recent survey, men say that the first things they notice about a woman are their eyes. And women say that the first thing they notice about men is that they're a bunch of liars.

7. Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

8. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

9. Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?

10. I'm not 40-something. I'm $39.95, plus shipping and handling.

11. In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world IS weird and people take Prozac to make it seem normal.

12. Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.

13. There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

14. How is it that one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

15. Doctors can be frustrating. You wait a month-and-a-half for an appointment, and he says, "I wish you'd have come to me sooner."

16. You read about all these terrorists -- most of them came here legally, but they hung around on these expired visas, some for as long as 10-15 years. Now, compare that to Blockbuster; you are two days late with a video and those people are all over you. Let's put Blockbuster
in charge of immigration.



Well Troops,
My favorite is #7. Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
Feeling blue usually means feeling sorry for oneself. Feeling Blue is not to be confused with depressed. Feeling blue is like a mostly cloudy day with sneezes of sunshine speeding along the ground as clouds pass overhead. Depressed is a tempest of billowing dark clouds, teeming sheets of rain and a wind able to blow the 'ust' out of Gust.

Depressed is a seriously over used word. We use it to describe everything from the feelings your get when your favorite TV show was preempted by a speech from the President to walking away from the dentist chair after hearing you've got 4 cavities and need a root canal with a couple of bridges thrown in for good measure. My friends..... Feeling Blue is the correct word for these situations. Leave the word Depressed for something major like death, near death, or a tax audit.



So, when you're feeling 'blue' (sometimes referred to as 'under the weather') follow the advise learned from today's post - Start Breathing! Get up, be thankful you're alive, remember there are many that really do have it worse than you, and start walking. Don't stop until you feel better. Get that blood pumping and oxygen moving and before you know it your Blue Period will pass and you may be a pound or two lighter as an added benefit.

Now, be good and make it a great day.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Joy and Pain of the Space Center.



Well,
Here you have it. Two captains from this summer's camps. The captain of a Voyager mission seems a bit upset. Could the mission be lost? Could his crew be driving him crazy?
The other is a captain from a Magellan mission. Do I detect success written in his expression?
These pictures, in a way, represent the Space Center where every mission is different. Missions can end is success or failure. Where else do you get this kind of an interactive experience that relies on you for its success?
Movies? NO. In a movie you are a captive audience. You watch what's put in front of you.
Amusement Parks? NO. You ride the ride. At the end you say it was great or it wasn't. If you're happy you say they built a great ride. If you're not you say they wasted their money building the ride.
Here at the CMSEC your actions decide the results. Work hard, think carefully through all problems, work well as a team, listen to comprehend and you may be successful. That is the joy of what we do at the Space Education Center. We take you out there, step back, and see what you do to yourselves.
Live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail - it is all UP TO YOU.
There is no place like this in the world.
Thank you to all that participated in our summer camp programs. Now get ready for there is lots more to come!

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Message to our Staff and Volunteers

All day I kept thinking how short our vacation really is. Part of me wants the vacation to continue for weeks. Then there is the more rational Mr. Williamson listening to the whispering of the Voyager from behind the door near my desk.

"Come on Victor," speak the walls. Walls that have been there since the beginning and, like me, have heard the sounds of thousands of missions and the voices of tens of thousands of children. "There are more stories to tell and adventures awaiting."

"Yes, I know. There are stories to tell, always more stories to tell," I mumble to myself. My mind reflects over the last 17 years and the legacy we've built. The memory of faces with expectant smiles and contagious enthusiasm comes back to mind. The kids are waiting for us.

Soon you will all come back along with our excited campers. I'm a realist and know that many of our campers look at the Center as a source of amusement. It is good for a few laughs, a challenge and then on with life. Then there are campers whose attitudes energize me and make my job worth the sacrifices. They are the children that fall in love with the place while on a school field trip and never stop talking about the experience. They work hard cleaning and babysitting to earn enough money to come to an overnight camp. They wait and wait for the summer flyer and when it comes, take it straight to their parents to fill out. Soon the day of their camp will arrive. After waiting for months their turn is coming.

My own principles demand I give them 110% of my efforts and attention. I've always done that and try to set the example for the staff and volunteers. Don't forget what a camp means
to these campers! Always give it your best and if you can't give it your best then be honest with your co-workers and ask for their help. You are all dedicated enough to increase your workload so the campers will get the missions they've been waiting for. Our reputation is
built on just that.

Remember, the Space Center is YOU. Without YOU we are nothing more than rooms, desks, and computers. We have no product to sell except our enthusiasm, our voices, our music, and our stories.

In addition to the campers you must also think of your own needs. If you find you are loosing your 'drive' and see the campers as a hassle then request some down time or perhaps a new assignment at the Center. I understand and will support your decision.

Troops, Rest and prepare mentally for a very busy school year. I'll see you soon.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, August 1, 2008