It has been several several years since the last five day sleep over camp was held at the Space Center.That long depressing drought was broken yesterday with the start of Discovery Space Center's Ultimate Five Day Camp at Canyon Grove Academy in Pleasant Grove. Forty-eight campers paid $475.00 each for this ultimate Discovery Space Center experience. The camp started Monday at 3:00 P.M. and ends Friday at 3:00 P.M.
The Ultimate Camp is a simulation within a simulation. The campers spend half the camp in the school's two simulators: the Everest and Pathfinder. The other half of the five day experience puts them in one of the most elaborate government simulations I've seen.
The 48 campers are divided into two teams representing the government and major industry of the United Colonies of Earth hundreds of years into the future. In the simulation, terrorists from 'The Syndicate' blew up the government of the UCE as it met in session the day before the campers arrived. The campers were given the responsibility to form an emergency government for the defense of the realm.
Casey Voeks spent the first part of the camp explaining the situation. He briefed them on how a government works using the United States as the model. He told them to form political parties for the purpose of electing a new Galactic House of Representatives, Senate, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch. The campers quickly caught on and formed the following parties: Expansionist Party, HomeFront Party, Independents, and as one would expect from a gathering of mostly male teens, the Anarchists. It was up to the party's leaders to work the crowd to recruit undecided campers to their cause to swell their membership ranks thus giving themselves an advantage in the elections for government positions.
The process was tiring. A few of the party's whips took a quick lie down while the bartering and horse trading continued in the adjoining room.
Governmental elections would be held early Tuesday morning right after breakfast. After elections, permanent flight teams would be formed. Flight Team 1 would consist of the Executive Branch, The House of Representatives, and the CEO and Board of Directors of Arkon Industries - the galaxy's largest defense contractor. Arkon builds all the starships used in the United Colonies. They sell to Earth, the colonies, and sometimes to others who can pay regardless of their motives. Flight Team 2 consists of The Senate and The Supreme Court.
Like a real government, this elaborate futuristic government must function within a budget approved by the House and Senate and signed by the President. Casey had a preliminary budget prepared ahead of time for the campers to review. Discussion and adoption of the budget would be a matter for the government after Tuesday morning's elections.
Casey acted as the arbitrator to help the students understand the ins, outs, and dirty underhanded political maneuvering which compromises a political campaign.
|Casey plotting with the two founders of the Anarchist Party|
|Casey shooing away a member of the another party from eavesdropping on the Anarchists.|
|The Press Bureau|
What's really cool about this week long simulation is the amount of realism which has gone into its preparation. For example, who would you say gives politicians their biggest headaches? If you said the press, you'd be right. Skylar Carr heads the Ultimate Camps press office. He, along with four other staff members and interns, make up the press bureau. Their job is to report on EVERYTHING that happens during the missions and in the government. They pester the campers with questions, they following everyone around snooping for stories - each looking for that big scoop to tantalize their readers. Every hour, the press bureau publishes a news update. Copies are printed and distributed to the campers after every rotation. The campers can't wait to read what the reporters have to say about them.
|The campers are gathered in general assembly to discuss government business. Notice the press releases.|
Casey took time to teach them parliamentary procedures so the meetings would closely mimic real world procedures.
"Does anyone have a motion?" he asked the gathering. One camper raised his hand and put forward a motion restricting the press from pestering them during general assembly meetings.
"I propose we put up a wall between us at the press," he suggested.
Casey asked for debate and recognized those who supported the motion and those who were opposed. A vote was taken after debate and the motion's supporters were successful.
A wall of air mattresses was quickly erected. Skyler and his team of obnoxious reporters were effectively cut off from the politicians. Naturally the press found a way around the campers feeble attempts to squash the freedom of the press as seen by the top of Skyler's head as he peered over the Berlin Wall to get his next story.
The aftermath of the general assembly was a call for office. This gave the campers the opportunity to declare their candidacy for a government position by writing their names on the white board next to the jobs they were after.
While the campers who had just left the ships dove heavily into the government sim, those who had finished that sim entered the mission simulators for their first mission of the day.
This Ultimate Camp double simulation is an outstanding example of genius at work. Congratulations to Casey, Skyler and team. The campers are excited and INVOLVED.
"This is better than Boy's State!" one camper said.
"I'm not into politics but I'm really getting into this!" exclaimed another.
I have to agree with both boys. I find the whole thing fascinating and find myself spending more and more time at the camp watching masters at work.
Ultimate Camp Day 2 in tomorrow's Troubadour post.