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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Magic of the Space Center


The Magic of the Space Center
Bracken Funk
Space Center Flight Director

I remember the first time I walked through the doors of the center. It was for an overnight camp. I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into, but I knew what it was supposed to be. It was an experience unlike any other, I knew that. All of the 6th graders had been talking about it for quite some time. I waited in anticipation outside of the front doors. It was early October, not too bad as far as weather goes; a soft breeze grazed our already excitement induced neck hairs as we waited, something similar to how Charlie felt outside of the chocolate factory I'm sure, for the front doors to be opened, and for us to be allowed in.

I stepped through the front doors, and though consciously I knew that those doors were the doors to a school, my imagination took over once inside. I'd always been a Star Trek fan, and because of that, this experience to me was even more exciting than I thought it would be- the hallways of the school became a Federation Starbase. To me, it was real. I suppose I've always been that way though. Even through the 8th grade I would play out on my trap with my lightsaber, yelling at the invisible foe, most of the time playing all of the lead roles in my imaginary play, including the foe. I think that I am just able to create my surroundings the way I want them to be, and block out what I don't want to see, or hear very well. But that school, the minute I walked through the front doors really did transform. That was only the first time I visited.

That time I was put in the Magellan, back in the good old days of Ryan Billings in the Magellan. He was indeed a masterful story teller. I was the Chief of Security. I remember well imagining where my security officers were going, and I remember imagining Monty, our chief engineer as this jovial fat Aussie, who was a brilliant mind, but not so coordinated. He seemed willing to help, but too busy with the engineering problems to get in our business; but I felt like I knew him before I left.

I came back many times as a young lad, I came because I loved the idea of being a Federation officer. I came because I loved knowing that I was something bigger than myself while I was there. I came because the staff were fun to be around. In my overzealosity (yes, a newly invented Bracken word- it actually came about while I was flying Greenpeace speaking as the John Talbot impersonator), I was quite annoying; but I had good intentions.

But still, to this day, as a 20 year old who still loves the place, I walk through those front doors, and even though I know that I'm in a school, I can't see it. I see a Federation Starbase, and the simulators are still real to me. There is still this magic there when I walk up to the Voyager bridge, or sit down in the Phoenix captain's chair, or open the hatch to the Galileo, or crawl into the Odyssey's engineering hatch, or hear alarms from the Magellan. I don't know why, but the wonder that the Space Center put into the mind of a child, has grown with him and is now cherished much.

So those of you who continue to come to our camps. Remember that. Our job is to give you the means whereby you could entertain yourselves, and then, using your imagination, you create the scenes. You create the outcome. You create the level of involvement you have. You create the characters in your minds, and you live out your own story with them. It's all about what you put into it.

One of the greatest philosophies known to men is the fact that we get out whatever we put in to something. I know for a fact that the Space Center is no different. There is a magic there no matter what you come with. But the more you put in, the more you come away with, the more fun you will have, the more memories you will take with you. I've seen it in thousands of children as they've left my simulator. I have seen it in hundreds of adults as they leave as well.

So remember the magic those front doors contain, and remember that it's you that puts it there.

Bracken Funk
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