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.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Night at the Space Center

"Goodnight Jon," the boys sleeping in the Bridge Sick Bay just sang out in a somewhat mocking tone. Jon is making his rounds reviewing the Space Center's safety procedures.
"Goodnight Jon!"
"Goodnight Zac!"
Two more rounds of the goodnight chorus rang out from the Bridge Sick Bay - surprisingly in unison.

Tonight we are hosting students from Barratt Elementary located in American Fork. Thirty nine are settling down for a long winter's night. Joining them are over twenty of our valiant and stalwart staff, sleeping in the Magellan, Odyssey and on the stage.

One boy just called to go home. The thought of staying here overnight was more than he wanted to handle, having just survived several hours in a simulator defending universal liberty and justice. He will return in the morning refreshed and ready to take on the forces of galactic evil.

The loft sleeping compartment is creaking. The wooden platform holding the mattresses creaks every time on of the boys changes position. It's just loud enough to wake me up in the middle of the night.

The rooftop heating unit just switched off. It does that at midnight every Friday night. It switches back on at 12:10 A.M. It is eerily quiet without that monstrous fan blowing continuously. It becomes the background noise you grow accustom too - never stopping to notice unless it switches off.

One of the Barratt boys stood in the school's hallway just before I assigned the boys their sleeping areas an hour ago. He held up both hands to cover his eyes.


"I'm a weeping angel," he said to a friend sitting in the lobby.

"You're a Doctor Who fan," I chimed in. He nodded. Speaking would take him out of character. He crept forward every time his friend took his eyes off him. Then he lashed out for the kill. His friend jumped up and took off down the hall. Jon and I watched, marveling that this ten year old had the patience to sit through an entire episode of Dr. Who.

I just remembered I forgot to ask the boys if they walk in their sleep. I put sleep walkers on the bottom bed of our three level bunk beds. Oh well, I'll find out soon enough when I'm woken in the middle of the night by the crash and scream of one of them falling from a top bunk to the hard floor beneath or find them shuffling through the office, moving things on my desk or rummaging through the bookshelf.

The worst case of sleepwalking at the Space Center occurred several years ago. One winter's night I heard the Voyager's outside door open. The cold rushed into the office. I jumped up and ran to the emergency exit. Outside stood one of the boys, standing in the snow in his underwear - no socks or shoes and looking quite bewildered. I knew it wasn't an escape attempt by the look on his face. I turned him around and escorted him back into the school and back up to the sleeping quarters. He recognized his sleeping bag and jumped right in - asleep instantly. He remembered nothing of it in the morning.

It's nearly 12:30 A.M. I'm falling asleep at the computer. Time to go to bed.

"Goodnight," we all say in unison.

Mr. W.
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