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, October 10, 2009

A Report on the Extended Overnight Camp..... And Other Things.

Hello Troops,
Today at 10:10 A.M. the Voyager’s curtain came down to the sound of the cheers and applause of 13 campers. Their voices were joined by sounds of relief from the eleven or so staff - all celebrating the completion of the Center’s first Extended Overnight Mission.

Bracken Funk directed the mission, assisted by other flight directors and supervisors and some of the best volunteers the Center is blessed to work with. I was pleased with the results for many reasons, the chief of which - I wrote Event Horizon. I like the mission and am pleased to see it run again in a longer setting. I told Event Horizon myself a few years ago. No matter how I trimmed and shaved the story I could never get it told in a short 5 hour overnight block. Bracken suggested he tell the mission as an Extended Overnight Camp. Creating an Extended Camp model allows us to tell our longer stories and that means more variety for our campers.

Bracken spent many long, unpaid hours tweaking and polishing Event Horizon for its debut last night. Everyone is happy with the results. If you didn’t get a chance to attend I urge you to take the opportunity next time it is offered. It really is one of my best missions and we all know I write the very best missions - If I say so myself. Of course, I say that while blushing at my computer.

And now for other news.......

The Space Center started offering Supernova as a field trip option October 1. With the addition of Supernova, the Space Center gives teachers five field trip choices:
  1. Supernova
  2. The Children of Perikoi
  3. A Cry from the Dark
  4. Midnight Rescue
  5. Intolerance
Never before in our 19 years have we offered so many choices to our students. We also give teachers a choice between two awesome classes, again a first in the Center’s history. All of this is because of dedicated staff and volunteers that work diligently to make everyone’s experience at the Center one to remember. Be sure to thank our staff for their hard work every time you come to the Center. We need happy volunteers that feel their work is appreciated.

And now for a personal comment........

Boy am I tired. I don’t personally fly the simulator for these super long missions but I’m still here directing and chaperoning. I try to take a quick nip from time to time but find it difficult to drift off. Between the sounds of the simulators, the music, the explosions and the endless gaggle of children’s voices, my hopeful escape into unconsciousness is never fulfilled until everyone stops for the night.

Last night the mission went into sleep mode at 2:00 A.M. It was 2:30 A.M. before I got everyone down and could go horizontal myself. Just as I stooped over to take off my socks I felt an uncomfortable spasm in my back.
“Oh No.....,” I mumbled to myself. I knew what happened. My hypothesis was confirmed as I tried to stand upright. Back pain was my constant companion for the rest of the night. "Why didn’t I just sleep in my socks?” I thought over and over again.

After a few minutes of self loathing I realized that if this logic was carried out to its natural conclusion everyone on this planet wouldn’t move from their current spot for fear they could twist a muscle, fall down a flight of stairs, choke on a hostess twinkie, walk into the path of a UTA bus, get hit by lightening or fall out of a tree (just to name a few). No, I was meant to mangle my back muscle. It had to happen. The Fates decreed and my back obeyed. It is a lesson we all learn sooner rather than later. You can’t escape life. You’re in the thick of it and the only escape is death. So, either swim or check out and drift to the bottom.

So here we are like ducks on a pond. For the most part we maintain a calm, cool above water appearance while all the time kicking under water for all we are worth to stay on life’s course.

It is now 4:09 P.M. My back hurts and I keep drifting off at the keyboard. The Voyager is running ‘Perikoi’, the Odyssey is running ‘Goodwill Mission’, and the Phoenix is running ‘Supernova’. I hear Roger, our custodian, buffing up and down the hallway. That buffer brings the sound that heralds the start of our one day weekend. At 5:00 P.M. I leave the Second Happiest Place on Earth and set sail for the stars that signify home. We at the Space Center call it our ‘Only’ instead of Weekend. Its called an ‘Only’ because some of us only get one day off a week. We make the most of our Sundays. It gives us a chance to reconnect to the world outside of our science fiction kingdom.

OK, I’m stopping now. I’m surrounded by the sound of flight directors playing Paklids. I’ll go out in the hall and talk to Roger. I can count on him to share a bit of national scandal discovered from careful searches of the internet. If it isn’t contaminated flu vaccine it could be alien infiltration of Acorn. Regardless, it is more entertaining and informative.

I hope to see many of you soon here in the trenches, and don't forget to visit me and my friends at Cloverdale - our home away from home in a cozy little corner of the world :) http://ourcloverdale.blogspot.com.

Mr. Williamson
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