Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leadership Camp 2010

For those of you that only read the first line of every post, the Leadership Camp was amazing. Now that I have that aside…

This years leadership camp was in planning for at least 8 months. I was brought onboard when Adam, Ben, Wyatt, and Jon told me about their plans for it: creating a brand new race (or, in this case, group of races) to battle against. It gave us something fresh to start with, instead of having to follow along with conventional races, like the Dominion from last year. We could use our creative muscles to imagine something new. They had a basic idea of each of the races, and a few of the rotations planned.

As January rolled around, we finished fleshing out the details of these new antagonists, how they used to live in the Delta Quadrant until they got kicked out by the Borg, and their fanatical ‘manifest destiny’ to live in the Alpha Quadrant, etc. The missions themselves had begun to take shape too, but as far as I know, only a few of the ones made up in January actually made it to the camp.

A lot of effort was put into this camp in the months before hand. We scripted and filmed a few of these commercials, and posted them to the internet (FYI, between all 3, we have about 1,100 hits). This commercial also served as the introduction to these new aliens. We had to craft brand new space ship controls for a captured alien vessel. Jon put together a fantastic book of all Starfleet ships, as a reference for the captains. All the while, the rotations were being revised and rewritten. The Flight Directors were part of this process from the beginning, and their contributions definitely made the different missions more interesting and entertaining.

Finally, the actual day of the camp arrived. From what I could see, everything was in place and ready. Mr. W said that he would be in charge enough to make sure things were safe. The rest of the camp was up to Jon and me. On top of that, we had more than a dozen campers from last years Leadership Camp, and a few space center staff as well. The pressure was on.

The classes for this year were taught by three outstanding instructors: Emily was teaching applied leadership in the Voyager simulator, Bracken had public speaking, and Casey explained how people’s psyches can affect leadership. At first, I wasn’t sold on these class choices, but as the camp went on, I could see the campers using the information they learned to help them in the rotations. The campers were very engaged in each class, and definitely brought something away from them. Heartfelt thanks to our amazing instructors.

Jon and I finished up the first night with the briefing of the entire campaign, and then, to honor tradition, Jon read a very moving speech (On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman) The room was very still as his words finished. We tied the whole thing together, wrapped it all up, and then sent everyone off to bed. They would need their sleep.

The next morning, everybody seemed to be loving today. Their was excitement as the crews piled into Discovery. We explained each of the rotations to the crews, assigned captains, and then sent them on their way. The crews received no training; they had to figure out their own stations. Once that was done they were on their way.

First rotations was probably the roughest for the campers. There were a lot of deaths, the refugees they were supposed to save were killed, and the Voyager and Odyssey were destroyed. The campers were still light hearted, until Jon said a few words (More like chewed them out) Tension was high as they began their next rotation.

2nd rotation ended with the Magellan’s capture, and the crew being branded as failures. They were supposed to evacuate, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They tried to get their bridge back, but failed. During dinner, there was a lot of question about their consequences. Some said send them home (which was out of the question, but was considered), other said take away their hours. Finally, it was decided to make them part of the ASA.

We sent them swimming; I went with to manage some business when it was over. Bracken got caught up in the middle of an epic basket ball game with the boys vs. girls. There were only 5 girls on the whole camp. Epic.

Meanwhile, back at the space center, preparations were made, assignments passed out, phasers organized, and staff costumed.

Swimming was over. I gathered all the campers around. Magellan crew was segregated; they were prisoners of the DC. The rest were organized into strike teams. We planted each of the strike teams at different corners of the school, told them they were taking Magellan back, and let them at it. We called it the ASA.

Last year, the ASA was a complete failure. This year, we decided to make it a little easier, but a little harder at the same time. We gave them specific objectives, but their objectives depended on each other. They completed it successfully, later than we wanted, but no more than we had planned. Back off to bed.
Third rotation was slightly shorter than the others, and there really isn’t a lot to write. Lunch on Saturday featured the appearance of Hauck’Toaei, the disgruntled Klingon Chef who was forced to serve Pakled food (which turned out to be a messy ordeal.)

Fourth rotation took a leaf out of last year’s camp. Mass Chaos was a Galileo/Odyssey joint mission where they had to blow up several targets. They got to plan and choose their targets together as they received messages from intel telling them where Dominion fleets were located. We tried to copy that this year, but instead of two ships, we would have five.

It didn’t work out as well as planned. The rotation began alright; Jon walked in, seemingly ready to brief when suddenly alarms played: Magellan was under attack! Chaos ensued in the hallways. Staff were bloodied up as if the station had exploded on them. Doctors ran through the halls tending to them. Screams pierced the halls. Campers ran to their ships as fast as they could.

Meanwhile, the captains were supposed to plan out what they were going to do. We had printed a huge map of the sector with a dozen targets. We planned on this section lasting 30 minutes. It lasted 5.

This was the most intense communication we have ever had between simulators. A chat system was set up so flight directors could always be on the know about where the ships were and what they were doing. Long range messages were sent through chat too. It was amazing how well that worked.

In the end, the Odyssey found the DC’s weakness, while all the other ships had re-docked with Magellan. We all waited in anticipation as the Odyssey told Magellan where they were…

And Magellan went to transwarp to the wrong place! All the flight directors were in the Magellan freaking out about it! Eventually, they did get the message, readjusted their course, and made it there in time to hit the DC where it hurts. An ambassador (Jon) came aboard the Magellan, an armistice (big word meaning peace treaty) was signed, and the camp was over.
A few things I noticed at the end: the communication and cooperation between ships and campers was fantastic. I also felt like the campers came together in a way I had never seen in a space camp. I don’t know how well they knew each other before, but they really couldn’t stop talking to one another after the camp.
I would just like to thank a bunch of people who made this happen.
First, the campers. We got the camp filled in April, much earlier than last year. They were fantastic kids (teens?) and great sports about everything. I couldn’t have asked for better.

Second, the staff. We had around twenty of the Space Center’s finest. First, thanks for being so awesome. We wouldn’t have had you on the camp if we didn’t think you could do it. Second, thanks for pulling through without complaint. I could see that you guys were tired by Friday night, but you still pulled through all the way to the end. I suppose that deserves a congratulations as well.

Third, to the Flight Directors, Supervisors, and everyone else who contributed to the planning and carrying out of the camp. We never could have done it as well (at all) without your help.

I would like to personally thank Jon for being a fantastic host for the camp. He organized it from start to finish and it almost seemed like he knew what he was doing the whole time. Thanks for giving us all the opportunity to do this. It definitely wouldn’t have happened without you.

Finally, thanks to Mr. Williamson. Because of a crazy decision you made 20 years ago, we can all make crazy decisions today! The Space Education Center isn’t just for teaching the campers that come. It teaches the staff too. I for one have been taught countless things while working here. Thank you for actually doing your job as a teacher, instead of just working for a living.

Will the leadership camp happen next year? Maybe. I don’t know yet. But if it doesn’t, I know we have done it justice. If it does, the bar has been raised. Lets just see what the next year brings us.
As always, it is a pleasure to work with everyone.

Alex Anderson.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Smile for Monday

Hello Troops,
This is our last week of EdVenture Camps. We close July 30th until August 20th. Let's start the week with something from the Imaginarium.

First, those of you that work for me know I'm not a meeting person. You can count on one hand the number of meetings we've held in the last year. Well, this poster from the Imaginarium sums it all up quite nicely.

And finally, this is the kind of breakfast cereal we should be serving at the Space Center. Aleta, let's get on it! I'm sure Costco must carry them. If not the one in Lehi, try the Costco in Cloverdale. It's got things you could never imagine :)

Let's enjoy this last week of long camps troops. I'll see many of you in the trenches over the next five days. Remember, I'm a walker. If you see me heading out the back door of the school I may be escaping for a quick walk to Harts for a Big Chill. If you are decent company and have something intelligent to say, grab a few more volunteers or staff and join me. I always love it when a group of Space Center staff and volunteers move in mass down the neighborhood streets of Pleasant Grove all in our Space Center Shirts.

The assimilation of this community into the collective is near at hand.......

Mr. Williamson

Saturday, July 24, 2010

From the Imaginarium Institute: What You Learn from a Picture.

Hello Troops,
Today's economics lesson. Get ready to learn.....

What do you see in this picture? ________________________________________

Now, we look deeper for meaning (don't you hate it when your English teacher pulls this on you during your classes on poetry?)

Economics Lesson:
Socialism. The boys keeps crying and crying and crying....... louder and louder and louder until the other boy can't stand it any longer and gives him one of his drinks.

Communism. The boy stops crying, goes into his bedroom, finds a baseball bat and wackes the other boy over the head. He takes both drinks and tells the boy laying flat on the ground that he'll be all the better for it. From those who have to those who do not.

Capitalism. The crying boy realizes all his screaming won't make a difference. If he wants a Burger King drink then he can damn well go out and earn the money to buy one, two or twelve himself. He has a brain, two arms and two legs. Could it be the desire to work is absent? Well then the lesson he should learn is: Work and Want Not.

Class Over....

Mr. Williamson

Friday, July 23, 2010

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 7

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.

Aleta Clegg
Space Center Educator
Director, Digitarium.

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 7

Turner fired the phaser. The bed shook as Caligula spasmed.

Harken leapt across the room, landing on the mattress with a solid thump. “Get something to tie him with!”

I scrambled from under the bunk. Turner threw himself onto the bed. The two of them wrestled Caligula. Turner fired the phaser again. Caligula growled.

“Move it, Stevens. Find us some rope, wire, anything! Now!” Harken snarled as Caligula’s flailing limbs smacked her in the face.

I tore open the closet. “Will this work?” I ripped the white t-shirt into strips. Turner’s phaser sailed across the room, propelled by Caligula’s kick.

“Hurry! Ouch!” Turner wrapped his arms around Caligula’s legs.

I wrapped strips around Caligula’s ankles, yanking it as tight as it would go. We wrapped more strips around his legs and arms, trussing him tight. Harken sat on his chest and slapped him, shouting curses.

The lights dimmed.

“Oh, crap,” I said.

“What?” Harken paused, her fist raised over Caligula’s battered face.

“Lights dimming is never good.”

“Delphi protocol initiated. Self-destruct activated. This vessel will self-destruct in thirty seconds.” The computer voice was smug.

I hauled Caligula off the bed. “We’ve got to make it to the Odyssey before the ship blows.”

“What about Vasha and Evangeline?” Turner asked.

“They initiated it. They’ll either be at the shuttle bay or dead. Help me with him.” Caligula stumbled, his ankles tied tightly together.

“Why are we taking him? I say let him die.” Harken planted her fists on her hips.

“He’s a valuable hostage. We can use him to negotiate with Del’Brugado.”

Caligula laughed, not the reaction I expected from a prisoner with a bloody nose and two black eyes.

I grabbed his thin undershirt and hauled him around to face me. “What’s so funny?”

“Destruction in twenty seconds.”

“Adrian, we don’t have time!” Turner yanked on Caligula’s arm. “Let’s go, unless you want to die.”

“Protocol override,” Caligula said.

“Self-destruct canceled.” The lights returned to normal.

“Now we have time. Talk, Caligula.” I shook him.

“Are you really so blind and ignorant? Del’Brugado is nothing but a pompous peacock who couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. I would appreciate it if you removed your hands.” His smile faded. “Before I cut them off and feed them to you. There is another one you should fear.”

Even tied up and beaten Caligula scared me. I shoved him, hard. Turner caught him. Harken smacked him with a lamp. Caligula passed out on the floor.

Harken glared at me. “If you want him so badly, then you carry him. I’m leaving before anything else weird happens.”

The lights dimmed. All three of us swore.

“This ship is changing course. Delphi override protocol initiated.”

“Where is Vasha taking us?” I muttered.

“I don’t think it’s Vasha.” Turner pointed at the door.

Caligula’s second in command stood framed in the doorway. Armed pirates crowded behind him. He smiled. “Thank you for your assistance, Stevens is it? You saved me a lot of trouble.”

I nudged the unconscious cyborg at my feet. “We want the Odyssey and your word that we can leave in safety.”

“I don’t think so.” He fingered his rifle. “No, I think the three of you are going to be my special guests for a while. At least until your other friends surrender. They are locked in the ship’s torpedo storage bay and refuse to unlock the door. I could blast it, but that would leave us stranded if it doesn’t kill us. No, I would rather negotiate. And with you as my hostages, I mean guests, they might listen to reason.” He stepped into the room. His pirates flanked us.

I kicked Caligula. “Are you the one Caligula told us to fear?”

“He said to fear Rafael? What a nice thing to say about the man who has been trying to kill him for the last two months.” Rafael signaled his men. The picked up Caligula and herded the three of us together. “But now that I have his ship and you, I don’t need to kill him. I think I’ll let the medics have him for experimentation. I wonder how much pain a cyborg can feel.”

I traded looks with Turner. This guy was ten times creepier than Caligula, who made Del’Brugado look as harmless as my grandmother and her eyeball jello.

The lights flickered off. “Main reactor shut down initiated. Power levels dropping to minimal.”

“Crap,” we all said together.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 6

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.
Aleta Clegg
Space Center Educator / Digitarium Director

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 6

Harken slammed her brush into the bucket of soapy water. “This is the thanks I get? That lying weasel. I should never have listened to Perry. She said he’d pay us well, that we’d be rich. We’d never have to take orders from anyone again. And here I am, scrubbing the deck with you two. And Perry is dead.” She wiped a tear from her face.

“Perry deserved to die. She was a traitor.” Turner slapped his brush on the floor, spattering the wall with soap bubbles.

“You know nothing!”

The guard at the end of the hall eyed us suspiciously.

“Scrub the floor or they might send us after Commander Perry.” I watched him as I scrubbed another deck plate. “We have to find a way out of here.”

“No Klingons to pick a fight with this time,” Turner whispered. “I wonder what they did with Evangeline and Vasha.”

An explosion rocked the ship. Lights turned red as alarms shrieked through the air. Our guard took off at a run. I threw my brush at the bucket.

“Looks like opportunity to me. Can you fly a shuttle?” I grabbed Harken’s shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” She shoved my hand away.

“Turner and I can’t fly. We need you. Look, Harken, you help us escape, we won’t tell anyone about you and Perry and your smuggling in the Odyssey.”

“Adrian.” Turner tugged my arm. “Is the Odyssey still docked?”

“I don’t know.”

“We don’t need her. Delphi Protocol, Adrian.”

“It doesn’t work, Adam.”

“If we get Vasha and Evangeline. . .”

“Right. Have fun cleaning decks, Harken.” I scrambled to my feet. Turner and I ran down the hall.

“Idiots! They’re this way!” Harken called, careful not to shout too loud.

“You’re with us, then?” I tried to glare as I followed her through Caligula’s ship.

“I get you out of here, you keep your mouth shut. And we let Perry take the blame.” Harken slid to a stop at a corner.

The three of us peered around the edge.

Caligula paced the hall, his leather coat flaring around his ankles. “What do you mean they have escaped? Find them, you imbeciles!”

The guards scattered. We backed hastily from the hall. Boots pounded behind us. Red light painted the walls in flickering lights as the ship’s power systems cycled down.

“In here.” Turner slid open a door. Harken and I crowded behind him.

“Somebody’s quarters,” Harken muttered as we stumbled through the room in the dark.

The door to the hall opened again. “I do not want to hear of failure. Is that clear?” Caligula’s voice echoed from the hall.

Harken swore under her breath as she slid into a storage locker. Turner crammed himself into a closet. I crawled under the bed.

Caligula stomped into his room. “Lights!” The emergency light glowed, casting shadows through the cabin.

I lifted the edge of his blanket to peer out.

Caligula sighed as he unfastened his leather coat. I watched in horror as he revealed his skinny torso. White skin puckered around metal implants. Caligula removed his glasses. His eyes glowed red in the dim light.

I shoved my fist in my mouth. His slight weight settled on the mattress above me. I suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

The storage locker door silently opened. Harken slid behind the couch. She signaled me. I shook my head. Three of us against a cyborg? We didn’t stand a chance. She fixed me with a fierce glare.

Caligula’s quiet snoring filled the room. Turner edged from the closet. He gripped a phaser in one hand. Harken pointed at the bed. I flattened myself to the floor as he raised the weapon, wondering if I was going to survive the next few moments.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Then, Now and the Future

Hello Troops,
On this day, July 16, America launched Apollo 11. Men were walking on the moon the summer of my eleventh birthday.

Sheeeeeez..... What's happened? I was sure by the time I celebrated my 50th birthday American would have space stations, Moon and Mars bases.

In 1968 I paid $1.25 to see the epic science fiction movie 2000: A Space Odyssey at Rapid City, South Dakota's Elks Theater. It was the glory days of our nation's Space Program. My friends and I were sure the science fiction we saw in that movie would be science fact on January 1, 2000.

This was the Space Station orbiting Earth. A fleet of PanAm Carriers transported you back and forth between the station and Earth.

A scene from the movie showing people in transit between the Space Station and the Moon.

This was the Space Station. Quite different from the one in orbit today in 2010.

What prevented the future we saw in 2000: A Space Odyssey from transpiring? The answer and its analysis would fill chapters. I guess you could say the present got in the way of the future.

My friends tell me that space exploration would explode if profit was involved. In other words, we must find a way to transform space travel from a money costly endeavour to a money making endeavour. I agree.

This picture comes from a web site advertising the areas where money could be made in space. It is possible. Space really is our last frontier. It is a place for young, new entrepreneurs (like you perhaps) seeking to make their fortune, and at the same time, expand mankind's knowledge of the universe itself.

So today, we remember the launch of Apollo 11 forty one years ago. In that same thought we congratulate the private companies at work today attemping to make the dream of 2000: A Space Odyssey real in your life time.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Rooftops of London and the Rooftops of Pleasant Grove

Hello Troops,
I saw Mary Poppins when it came out in the early 1960's. I loved the movie then and love it still.
Do you remember Bert singing Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey Chim chim cher-oo? Here are two verses from the song.

I choose me bristles with pride, yes, I do
A broom for the shaft and a brush for the flute
Up where the smoke is all billered and curled
'Tween pavement and stars is the chimney sweep world
When there's 'ardly no day nor 'ardly no night
There's things 'alf in shadow and 'alfway in light
On the rooftops of London coo, what a sight!

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-ee!
When you're with a sweep you're in glad company
Nowhere is there a more 'appier crew
Than them wot sings, "Chim chim cher-ee, chim cher-oo!"
On the rootops of London..
Chim chim cher-oo!

In the movie, Bert was a Chimney Sweep and a good friend of Mary. Now, you're wondering why I'm writing about a character from Mary Poppins. Well, Bert and I have something in common. We spend a part of our working days on rooftops. Bert enjoys birds eye views of London and I do the same for Pleasant Grove.

Every day I ascend Heaven's Ladder located in the 4th Grade Hallway Custodian's Closet and trek across the roof of Central Elementary to do one of the duties required of me as Space Center Director. Can you guess what that is? Am I......

1. Venturing to the rooftop to do astronomical observations?
2. Venturing to the rooftop to do astrological observations?
3. Venturing to the rooftop to signal extraterrestrials with one of our EverReady Flashlights?
4. Finding a good place to "End it All?"
5. Looking for the only place where I can find peace and quiet?
6. Resetting the rooftop air conditioner that cools the Gym?

If you said #6 then YOU ARE CORRECT!

Every day I open the gym doors to feel the exiting air and most days I find it isn't being cooled. The air conditioner has a mind of its own and needs to be switched off and on for the compressor to work correctly. We go through this every summer. We put in maintenance work orders, the problem gets fixed sometime in the Fall and then it reappears in the summer.

The air conditioner is located on the school's roof. To access the roof I unlock the Custodian's Closet, move the carpet shampooing machine and tread carefully up the worn yellow ladder leading to the rooftop.

I'm in a different world up there. I see the blue sky, trees, clouds and people going about their day to day business completely unaware of me peering down at them from behind an air conditioner.

I scale another ladder to the gym's roof, the highest point of the school. I switch the conditioner off and give it a minute or two to reset. That gives me time to take a walk around the gym's perimeter.

Today I had to check the Discovery Room's air conditioner. At 4:00 P.M. the room started heating up. The Air Conditioner wasn't cooling. While I was up on the roof I discovered the Utah Power and Light Auto Switcher displayed a red LCD light.

That meant the compressor was shut down automatically as part of the power company's program to conserve power and prevent black outs. The air conditioner came on while I was checking it out. That problem was solved.

Before descending I take a moment and enjoy the view.

I switch the gym conditioner on, descend the ladder, then reenter the school through the hatchway. Back I go into my underground world of space and simulations, locking the hatch above me.

So, Chim Chim Cher-ee and Cheerio.....

Mr. Williamson

Another Space Center Milestone....

Kade's Rank Paper. Our First 21st Century Camper!

Hello Troops,
It happened two weeks ago. A young man walked up to my desk during Overnight Camp Sign In's and presented his Rank Paper.
"Is your name spelled correctly?" I asked.
He looked at the spelling of his name and replied, "Yes."
"Staying overnight or going home?" I asked as I went through my checklist of questions. "Overnight," he said.

I gave him the Rules Paper and directed him to take a seat on the stage steps. That's when I noticed something about his paper I'd never seen before. This young man, Kade, was the very first student from this new century to attend one of our camps.

Last year I saw my first camper with a birthday of 2000. But the year 2000 was the last year of the 20th Century. Kade, was our very very first camper born in the 21st Century.

It's just one of those interesting milestones I thought I'd share with you.

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recent News from the Space Education Center.

Hello Troops,
It's Time for News!
What you are about to see are uncensored, candid snapshots of the wildlife roaming freely at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center and Wild Game Preserve located near beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove, Utah (Just up and down a few blocks from the world renown Purple Turtle Fast Food Emporium - home of the Over the Top Shakes!) Please read this post in a quiet room. Sudden and / or loud noises can disturb the animals. Some frighten easily and once frightened, become unpredictable.

Photo 1: Alex the Pious stands with Chelsey. Alex is humbled at Chelsey's accomplishment of obtaining her promotion pin for passing the Voyager's stations. Chelsey smiles embarrassingly after seeing a tear of joy streaming down Alex's left cheek.
"What a turd," she was hear mumbling as she returned to her seat.

Photo 2: Stacy of Lehi awards the Knighthood of Galileo Pin to Julie of the North and Alex the Pious.
"How can one contain the flood of emotion that comes from being so honored?" Alex was overhead saying near the drinking fountain afterwards.
After receiving her honor, Julie was seen erasing the names of younger volunteers from the staff working schedule posted in the hallway near the Briefing Room. She wrote her name in their place.
"You do what it takes to move ahead in any organization?" she confessed.

Photo 3: Mr. Williamson, wearing his chains of office, congratulating Chelsey on her Voyager Award. He seems in good spirits - which is unusual for him, especially after an Overnight Camp.

There are rumors Mr. Williamson was seen smiling at WalMart last week. The cause for his obscene behaviour is unknown.
"I don't know what you're talking about," was his response to a question put to him on the matter.

Photo 4: In this snapshot we see Emily of the Red bestowing the Honors of the Voyager to Julie of the North (Julie got her Voyager pass). Don't let Julie's cheer fool you. Her smile is directed to all the little volunteers crushed during her meteoric rise to Space Center Stardom.

Emily is a Space Center EMT and Flight Director. She thrives on the thrill of story and 'Blood and Guts'. This pictures captures the moment just before Emily pushed the pin deeply into Julie's unsuspecting chest. Blood was drawn.
"An Accident?" you ask.
"Doubtful" is this witness' response. Emily gets her first aid practice anyway she can.

Photo 5: This is Jace, recently returned from the Utah Summer Games where he won two gold medals in some for of martial arts. I can't remember exactly...... perhaps it was French Feet Fighting. No, I believe it was Ty Quon Do (the spelling is hopeless but at 9:16 P.M. I can't be expected to do anything right). Jace was promoted to Space Center Rule Enforcer after demonstrating his Black Belt skills on two thirsty eleven year olds who took too long at the drinking fountain during a summer camp crew rotation. Many volunteers where shocked at the brutality. Emily was delighted. She arrived twenty seconds later with full First Aid Kit in hand. I'm happy to report the two younglings are recuperating well and pledged not to take more than fifteen seconds at the fountain each.

Any ten year old that gets out of hand will feel Jace's swift and precise hand. A slice, a dice and a well placed kick and these younglings will be marching in step with a smile on their face.
Excellent Work Jace!

Photo 6: This is Josh receiving his Odyssey Pin from Emily of the Red. Does he seem worried? Does he seem concerned? Josh asked that Emily not put the pin on the Lanyard. He accepted the pin in hand.

Photo 7. Emily of the Red seconds before drawing blood from soon be be screaming Connor L. Connor earned an Odyssey Pass. The piercing caused Connor to lose his footing and strike his head on the "Lord of the Votes" trophy behind him. He went home that day with his head wrapped in twelve layers of bandages. Emily succeed in protecting his airway but forgot to leave his eyes unwrapped. He stumbled out to meet his parents and missed the curb. It was a nasty spill, too gruesome to describe.

Photo 8: In this photo you see (Left to Right) Brittney, Aleta, Mr. Williamson, Nate E. Marissa B, and a mysterious youngling that remains unidentified. It was the end of the Overnight Camp. The staff gathered to wish them a happy birthday. Mr. Williamson was forced to surrender the cake so everyone could have a piece. He wasn't amused. He ordered Mrs. Houston to cut the cake into one inch squares. He took what was left home.
"Isn't it all about me?" he said in his defense when denying second helpings to the hungry staff and volunteers.

Photo 8: This is Happy Kyle standing next to the Galileo. Don't confuse Happy Kyle with the Confused Kyle "The Fish" Herring . Happy Kyle is the Center's All Around Handy Man. He stands proudly next to the new Air Intakes he recently installed on both sides of the new simulator.

We call him Happy Kyle because of his attitude. No one has ever seen him really angry. The closest thing to "getting angry" was a moment of upset a few months ago when he messed up a telephone order for aluminum.

"Darn It!" he was heard saying as he hung up the phone. He quickly apologized to everyone present for his emotional outburst and enrolled in Anger Anonymous. He attends religiously.

And that's All the News for Tonight Troops.

All the Best!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Space Center News Update

Hello Troops,
What a miracle! I’m posting at 6:23 P.M. instead of the middle of the night as in previous posts. We’re running our Day Camp this week. The campers arrive at 9:00 A.M. and leave at 2:30 P.M. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Do you realize what that means? The Space Center Staff are blessed with a resemblance of reality. We get to go home at night!

“So this is how real people live,” I thought as I walked home from the Space Center at 5:00 P.M. I worked 9.5 hours today instead of 24. I’ve got a splash of time and you get an update post.

Tomorrow I’ll post several pictures of staff receiving awards given at the end of the last couple Overnight Camps. I’d do it now but the pictures are at the school and I’m home on my laptop with a cold drink on my left and Sirius Radio encircling me with sounds from their Coffee House Channel. This is my lucky night. Nora Jones is singing.

Nora is a favorite of mine. My sister introduce me to her music two years ago. She and her husband spend their summer evenings sitting outside their old west museum and art gallery in Hewlett, Wyoming listening to their favorite musicians over speakers set up outside on the wooden sidewalk and entrance. The music, combined with good conversation spiced with local gossip, draw out the neighbors in this tiny village of six hundred located a few miles from Devil’s Tower in the mystic Black Hills.

I was there there a few years back, spending a few lazy summer nights talking and laughing with anyone who happened by. We were in town for my brother’s wedding held in the town’s one no longer used church.

Hewlett, Wyoming use to be a stop on a travelling Baptist preacher’s circuit. Several years ago he dropped Hewlett from his schedule. This left the town preacherless. The church closed, and opened for special occasions only - like my brother’s wedding. We hired a preacher from South Dakota to come out and perform the service. If you think of Mayberry with Andy Griffith and Barney Fife then you’ll get the feel for life in Hewlett. We chucked at the thought that our families nearly doubled the town’s population.

Good Times....

This summer has had its ups and downs. Saturday could have been a real downer day if it wasn't for an awesome staff. There was a scheduling problem and we found ourselves short a flight director for our 11:00 A.M. missions. Thanks to our fantastic staff (Emily, Rachel, Dave, Stacy, Bracken and Ben) we were able to pull through and get the job done. They went the extra mile and pitched in to take care of the customers.

Having a staff of devoted, dedicated people is one reason the Center has survived twenty years coming up this November. I want these folks to know that I really appreciated their willingness to answer the phone and come in to help. I don’t forget favors owed and all of you earned a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” for the next time you royally mess up and deserve a hugh chew out from me. Just remind me you’ve got the Card and I’ll leave it at that.

We have three weeks left in the Summer Season of 2010. It’s going quickly. Have you been to one of our camps? If so, thank you for your contribution. I’m hoping you enjoyed yourself. If you haven’t come to a camp yet and are within the ages of 10 and 14 may I remind you we still have openings in September. We’d love to see you at the Space Center. We’d love to have you fly in one of our simulators. Come on and join us. Take a minute from reality and recharge your imagination.

Now to Change the Subject......

I’m working with someone in Arizona on a new, mobile simulator for our K- 4th Grade students. The trailer's design is nearly finished. We are pricing it out now. If the price is right, we will seek to either purchase the simulator or rent it. The trailer will be divided into seven 4 man capsules. The seven capsules will take our younger students on missions throughout the solar system. They will use computers with touch screen computers to control their small craft through the atmosphere of Venus and the rings of Saturn. The missions will run 20 - 30 minutes.

A pick up truck will move the trailer from school to school. An onboard generator will provide the power. This means we can take our missions to schools, malls, fairs etc. Imagine the possibilities! I’m excited- as you should be. The Space Center may soon be mobile, taking this kind of learning to rural schools and communities. It is another way we hope to make a difference in the lives of Utah’s school children.

Well troops, The Coffee House Channel is playing something that sounds almost western. I‘m OK with that but think I’ll scan the band and find something else.

All the Best!

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another Midnight Post from the Trenches.

Hello Troops,
It's 11:56 P.M. Bracken is leaving after spending some time talking to the boys in the loft. I'm at my desk once again writing this post to our faithful readers. We are in the thick of the summer's fifth, one night Overnight Camp. Tonight we have 42 campers with us (12 girls and 30 boys). The girls are sleeping in a classroom on the other side of the school.

Bracken just asked if I was doing another late night post. "Why don't you get just three hours of sleep," he said while gathering up his things and walking out the Briefing Room door. It was nice of him to comment on the continuation of the "Enemy From the Dark" story. He has an issue with being written as the Master of the Obvious.
"I'm tossing you a bone," I said in so many words without actually saying it that way.

The school's front door just latched shut. He's gone and I'm left with the light from my desk lamp and the computer screen. The loft is creaking again. I don't like to sleep boys in the loft because of the creaking of the platform they sleep on. Every time they move I hear the sound. Tonight we had no choice with 30 boys. We are wall to wall bodies. It would be nice to have a few more girls on the camp to even out the numbers. Mind you, Lorrine is perfectly happy to have fewer girls to tend on her end of the school.

Tonight we have Emily telling "Canada" in the Voyager; Rachel telling "No More Secrets" in the Galileo; Adam telling "Can't Remember" in the Odyssey; Bracken telling "Murphy's Law" in the Phoenix; and Brittney telling "The Guardian" in the Magellan.

One of the boys has climbed down the ladder from the Loft. "I've got to go to the bathroom," he said.
"We had our last bathroom break thirty minutes ago," I reminded him. I don't know why I took the time to say that. It was a waste of his time listening, and my time stating what he already knew. Reminding him that we had a bathroom break thirty minutes ago won't change the fact that he has to go to the bathroom right now. So.... saying "We had our last bathroom break thirty minutes ago," was just my way of saying "I'm annoyed that you're asking to go to the bathroom now after I gave everyone a bathroom break thirty minutes ago!"

"Go," I said.

He's back. He and his friends are making strange animal noises from the loft. I'm getting annoyed.
"Who ever I sleep in the loft has to be tired and ready to go straight to sleep," I said to the boys as I parceled them out to the sleeping areas earlier.
"We want the loft," one of the boys said.
"You're tired and ready to go straight to sleep?" I asked. He nodded his head. I took them at their word. I may live to regret that decision before this night is through.

I'm going to talk to them. They're getting louder. Time to get out my 'I'm not a happy camper' mannerisms and talk sternly using just enough threat to get them to cooperate without forcing me to move one of them to the staff sleeping area. I'll bid all of you a very goodnight. I'll go deal with hyper boys and an upset stomach.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And So Ends Another Day.....

Hello Troops,
It's 11:24 P.M. on the second night of our fifth EdVenture Camp. Its all quiet on the Voyager. Once again, just the sound of the air conditioner. I think the crew must be downstairs with Jon and Zac listening to camp stories.

I've got five of the younger campers in the Odyssey to my left and staff in the Phoenix behind me. They tolerate the light from my lamp. The younglings in the Odyssey are talking, or I should say - one of them seems to be doing all the talking and the others insert a word here and there when he stops to breath. I'm hoping I'll be spare the constant interruption suffered last night. I've structured the camp in such a way the campers should be completely exhausted by now and should sleep soundly so we can all do the same. The kids were kept busy from 7:15 A.M. until 11:10 P.M. with missions, classes, eating, playing, swimming and a video.

I'm trusting the Sandman will not pass Central School as he does his rounds through Pleasant Grove tonight.

Nothing eventful to report, except to say my stock of Trafalgar Ludicrous Passes crew today after negotiating a trade of passes for missions with the management of Trafalgar and 7 Peaks. I picked up the passes this afternoon at 7 Peaks Resort. Volunteers and staff can redeem points from their volunteer cards for these passes. If interested, let me know.

It was cold at the pool this evening. The temperatures dipped into the low 70's accompanied by a moderate wind. We had the pool until 9:15 P.M. but most of the campers were out of the water by 9:00 P.M. I told the manager on duty to blow the whistle. We exited almost ten minutes early. It was all good, that gave us more time for bed.

One of the boys is telling a joke.
"Do you guys what to hear a joke?" he said. "Woman's Rights!"
There was polite laughter. I wonder where that boy got that joke? OK they're off on a joke telling bonanza.

I'm going to bed. The Sandman is here.

Its Pleasant Dreams in Pleasant Grove,

Mr. W.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yet Another Late Night Post.......

Hello Troops,
Another late night post. It seems like these 11:32 P.M. posts are the best I can do this summer.

I just returned from the school's roof. After spending four camps freezing to death on the floor in front of my desk (the room's air conditioner is set to 68 degrees to ensure the Phoenix and Odyssey are properly cooled) I decided to climb the ladder in the custodian's closet to access the roof and manually switch off the air conditioner. You're wondering why I don't use the thermostat? The thermostat was disconnected when the air conditioner was put on the net and controlled from the District Maintenance Office.

Last week's camp made all the difference. I got five hour sleep and the room stayed at 70 degrees the whole night. What really made the difference was the lack of moving air. A wind always makes things colder and that rooftop unit was built to move air!

There are so many boys on this camp I'm forced to sleep five in the Odyssey. They are all going into the 5th grade this year and get along well. It's a good thing to make new friends at camp. The only drawback to making new friends is all the extra talking late at night that a new friendship produces. After all, these boys have ten years of stories to tell each other as they find their place in their new Space Center Tribe. I can hear at least three of them right now through the closed door. I'll tell them to whisper when I go to bed.

The staff are a bit spread out as well. Three of them are sleeping in the Phoenix near me and the others are in Discovery.

This is our fifth EdVenture Camp. We've two more to go and one Leadership Camp and the season will draw to a close. Over all its been a good summer and I continue to hope for the blessing of routine and uneventfulness (if there is such a word). That is a camp director's dream - a camp with .....

I was just interrupted by one of the Odyssey boys needing to use the restroom. You give them all a chance to use the restroom before going to bed and discover later that some didn't take the opportunity when offered and instead choose to go one hour later. My experience tells me that some of the younger boys are a bit embarrassed to go to the bathroom when the bathroom is crowded with other boys. They wait until the room is empty and then ask. All is OK.

He just returned. "I got lost coming back," he said.

"I'm glad you found the way. If you were any later I'd have to send out the Mounties," I replied. He didn't get it. Again, All is OK.

Funny, One boy is talking about a dream he had about the Space Center. "Last night I had a dream that they put me in the wrong age group for the simulations." He didn't get a response. I think the other boys are fast asleep because he's not finishing the story.

Everyone is settled for the night. It's 11:50 P.M. and my eyes are trying to convince me to let them sleep.

Goodnight Troops. Remember us as you lay in your nice comfy beds, enjoying the peace of quiet of your home tucked away in some quiet neighborhood. Wouldn't you rather be here, surrounded by 44 kids and a staff of 25?

I've got 57 people I'm responsible for right now. No wonder I can't sleep some nights. I lay on my pad and listen for the slightest sound of someone attempting an escape from the simulator. I'm paranoid. It comes with the job, believe me.

Mr. Williamson

P.S. Update
It is 9:54 A.M. It was a restless sleep last night. The young man that asked to use the restroom wasn't finished with me. He woke me up three more times to use the restroom after I'd gone to bed. Later he woke me up again asking for the Happy Bucket (used for vomit). Later still he woke me up again asking to go to the gym to get his book. He was having a hard time falling asleep. The first thing he said when he met me in the gym before the breakfast call was, "I didn't get any sleep at all last night. I was too excited!"
"You and me both," I replied.

So, I'm working on a few hours of sleep today so...... I guess that's it. It's all in a Day's Work at the Space Center.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adrian Stevens. Chapter 5

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.
Aleta Clegg

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 5

I stumbled in the grip of a bearded pirate following the other prisoners. He shoved me into the interrogation room, pushing me to my knees in front of a slender man in an impeccable leather suit.

“What is this?” The man stalked behind me, studying me as if I were an undesirable insect.

“Voyager Quartermaster,” Perry answered. “Her name is Adrian Stevens. That’s her assistant, Adam Turner.”

“They are a waste of air and resources. Put them out the airlock.” The man turned his back, his leather duster coat sweeping around his boots. “I am disappointed, Perry. A handful of quantum torpedoes and a box of outdated computer chips. Nothing useful for such a great risk. You have tipped your hand. You are of no use to me outside of StarFleet. You may join the quartermaster in the airlock.”

“It doesn’t work that way, Jon.” She smiled, fingering her comm badge. “I send the distress code and turn you over to the Voyager when they arrive. They have these coordinates.”

Caligula raised one dark eyebrow. “You play games? With me? Arrogant and a fool.”

“A safety precaution, nothing more. The Voyager will be here within the hour, following the trail I left, just in case. Captain Herring has information that Vasha and the Odyssey computer specialist were working together to steal the ship and betray him to the Romulans. StarFleet is looking for traitors. I planted incriminating evidence for them to find.”

Caligula studied Vasha and Evangeline. “Go on.”

Perry smiled, relaxing. “We take them to your base, extract what we need, then leave their bodies somewhere easy to find. You have not only quantum torpedoes to study, but the entire Delphi Protocol. Complete command of all Starfleet vessels, once it is installed and activated.”

Caligula flicked a glance at Turner and me. I dropped my gaze to the floor.

“Lock them in the brig. Set these two to scrubbing floors.” Caligula snapped his fingers at his guards. “And push Commander Perry out the airlock with nothing more than an hour of air.”

“Caligula! Is this how you honor your deals?” Perry rose to her feet.

“You betrayed my position to the Voyager. You wear an emergency locater. Let Captain Herring rescue you, if he so chooses. I will not tolerate even a hint of disloyalty from my people.”

“You can’t do this, Jon!”

“Watch me.” He flicked his hand to the door.

His guards dragged the screaming, swearing Perry from the room.

“Lieutenant Harken.” Caligula turned his attention to the petite brunette. “Do you perhaps have anything to say?”

She pulled the comm badge from her uniform. “What duties do you have for me?”

Caligula smiled, cold and calculating. “Very wise choice. You may assist the Quartermaster and her assistant. I wish the floors of this ship to shine.”

Adrian Stevens. Chapter 4.

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.
Aleta Clegg

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 4

I sprawled in a medical bunk, watching Vasha mutter over the captain’s handbook. Turner snored in the bunk below me. Commander Perry worked at the Operations station doing something with the power systems. She occasionally talked with Lieutenant Harken over the speakers. I had yet to meet or hear Computer Specialist Evangeline. I toyed with the idea she was imaginary and Vasha was just insane. It really didn’t matter. I was in deep trouble if the Admiral ever found out I’d helped steal the Odyssey.

“Arrival at destination in approximately one minute, three point seven four seconds,” the computer announced.

Turner’s snores choked off.

Vasha frowned. “Destination? We should have another six hours to Delta Base.”

Perry smiled. “We aren’t going to Delta Base. We’re meeting up with Caligula, Del Brugado’s second, at the Federation Border.” She lifted a phaser over the console. “I want all three of you on the floor, by the main hatch. Now.”

I slid from the bunk, nudging Turner on the way.

Perry jabbed the phaser into my middle. “Watch it, Adrian. I know your reputation. I’m watching you.”

The hatch opened. Lieutenant Harken pushed a blond woman through. “The ship is secure.”

“Very good, Harken. We’re due to arrive any second now. Keep them covered while I fly us in.” Perry stepped over Vasha to reach the pilot’s controls.

“Delphi! Activate!” Vasha shouted.

“Unable to comply. Delphi Protocol is listed as a dangerous virus and has been quarantined by this computer.”

Evangeline, the blond woman, squirmed. “Sorry. It was messing with my system. Lieutenant Harken said it was a virus planted by them Marauders.”

“Quiet, you!” Harken kicked Evangeline. She aimed her phaser at Vasha’s head. “If we didn’t need the knowledge in your head, I’d shoot you now. This phaser is not set to stun.”

I wriggled backwards.

Harken waved the phaser my direction. “Em, do we have anything to tie them with?”

“Use the sheets.” Perry shifted to impulse speeds, then slowed further.

Harken nudged Turner, the one she judged least dangerous. “You, cook, rip the sheets in strips and tie them up.”

“Weak-spined traitor!” Vasha spat as Turner pulled a sheet from a medical bunk.

An alarm hooted. The computer spoke, “Warning. Power systems are out of balance. Dilithium stress levels are rising. Recommend adjusting at Operations station.”

Perry swore. She pulled a phaser from under her uniform. “Deal with it, Harken.” She took out her frustrations by kicking us while Turner tied our wrists to the desk supports. “Tie them tighter, imbecile.”

The sensors station beeped. “New contact on sensors.”

“Scan for identification, Harken.”

“I’m busy trying to adjust the power. You scan.”

Commander Perry swore and kicked Evangeline. “Get over by the hatch. Now.”

“But we’re tied to the desk.” I couldn’t stop myself.

She kicked me. “You, idiot cook, tell me what ship just arrived.”

The lights flicked red. The alarm shrieked. “Warning! Detecting marauder vessel approaching. Weapons are armed. Marauder vessel is scanning for target lock on this vessel.”

“If you move, I will kill you!” Perry glared, twitching the phaser our direction. “And you, imbecile, tie yourself up.” She climbed over the captain’s chair to the communications station.

The lights flickered, plunging the ship into gloomy twilight.

“What now?” Perry demanded.

“The crystal is cracked. Power levels are dropping.” Harken set her phaser to one side of the desk while she worked the controls.

“Now hailing on General Use Frequencies. Broadcasting equipment malfunction codes.”

Perry used even more colorful terms.

“Power systems shutting down. Securing to shutdown mode.”

The stations blacked out, followed by the lights.

I yanked at the strips of sheet tying me to the desk support post. The knots wouldn’t come loose.

“Tractor beam has been attached to this vessel. Preparing to dock.”

“What do we do now?” Harken asked.

“Wait, and hope Caligula doesn’t kill us all out of hand.” Perry slumped in the captain’s chair. She raised her phaser. “Have a nice nap.”

I’d found the traitors on the Voyager. It did me little good. The beam swept over me, knocking me unconscious.