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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mr. Williamson's Fits of Rage in the Control Room? Nah, Whatcha Talkin About. What it Was Like Working the 48 Hour Overnight Camps During the Voyager Era. (Including the Entire Happy Bucket Speech). Theater Imaginarium.

Post from the Past: April 14, 2001 
Mr. Williamson's Fits of Rage in the Control Room (thanks Stephen, the only one with the guts to tell me to my face).  Brady Young Introduces Danny Goodman. Josh Webb and Bridger H. Save the Day. Calm Flight Directors and Tyrants (Like Mr. W).

Give the Old Guy a Break.  Running the Center, Flight Directors both Field Trips and Overnight Camps
Wow, it's a wonder I made it to Retirement
Hello Troops,
A busy week as always at the Space Center. This week we entertained  Barratt and Aspen Elementary Schools. We also serviced Barnett Elementary in an afterschool program. It was a week full of 5th graders. Fun kids but the missions need to be adjusted downward 
for that grade level.

Sego Lily and Aspen Elementary Schools supplied our overnight camp participants. Good crews for the most part. The Magellan tried something different this overnight mission. Brady Young (Blue Shirt) did an excellent job playing Danny Goodman from station security for the Magellan crew.  Playing Danny was profitable for Brady. He made over $10.00 in votes after the overnight mission. The kids really took to him as well. Playing an established second story character is a chance to do something for many of you who come to the missions and just sit and wait for something to do. Go out into the simulator and interact with our patrons. Everyone wins! You have a good time and get to work on your acting skills and the crew benefits from experiencing a better simulation.

A Thank You to Josh Webb who saved the day on Wednesday. Our sixth graders were at Clear Creek. Mr. Yeager had to take the day off.  We were so short staffed for the afternoon flight that Stephen Porter was going to work the bridge and the 2FX station in the Voyager. Josh showed up with lunch in hand just to say hi at the right time. We put him to work. Thanks, Josh.

Another thank you to Bridger H. from the Pioneers. He worked the Friday afterschool Odyssey mission. After his mission, he volunteered to stay and help on the overnight mission because we were so short-handed. Easter weekend took a toll on our staffing.

Apple's internet Mac publication is asking about the Center. Mr. Schuler is preparing an article to be sent to the ezine. There is a good chance they will publish it. 

Stephen Porter brought up an interesting point after the overnight mission that I would like to take a minute to touch upon. He told me that sometimes I get, well how to say, "involved" or "focused" as I say in the missions and can get downright rude at times with staff in the heat of a simulation. He suggested that I tone it down a few levels and not shout in the control room. I'm aware of my antics folks. I'm aware that I can get very "to the point" with staff during a mission. This is something I've tried to control for 10 years with no luck. It is the way I'm wired and it will send me to an early grave for sure but with me, you get the whole package - the good and the bad. 

Mr. Williamson flying the Voyager.  I could get "focused". Too much of a perfectionist I suppose.

I want everyone that works with me to know that if I'm stressed and "yelling" in the room that I don't really mean it to hurt feelings. I just need something done and I need it done right that second. Any flight director knows that running a simulation is as much a science as an art. Our simulators are our instruments. We play those instruments and when we play our simulators our hearts, minds, and souls are poured into it. I become the Voyager when I'm running a mission. I am the ship. When the story calls for the ship to be in crisis I am 
in crisis. I cannot separate the confusion and panic of the ship and in an instant become a calm quiet person in the control room. Maybe some directors can but not me. I yell. I'm focused. I'll be very direct with my staff. I'll not mince words. Please understand. Don't 
take it personally and learn. 

Yes, I think there are times I put on a better show in the control room than I do on the bridge. 

Each flight director has their own style. Mine is in your face! I've always been like that in my teaching. Emotional........learning should be an emotional thing. If I have you by the heart then I know your mind has come along for the ride. 

I realize some of you may not work well with a flight director like me. I've no problem with that. If my style doesn't work for you and makes you feel uncomfortable then please do not volunteer for Voyager missions. Stick to ships with flight directors you feel good working 
with. We have five simulators to choose from and many flight directors. I want you to have a positive experience when you come to the Center to volunteer. Please go to a ship that will give you that experience. 

And to those that can tolerate my outbursts and frantic arm waving - thank you. Together I believe we make beautiful music with this instrument called the Voyager.

Mr. Williamson

Working a 48 Hour Camp in the CMSEC's Voyager Era.  The First Summer Camp of 2007. 

Emily Perry Leading the staff and volunteers in their Awesomeness Exercises to psych themselves up for the camp.

With the closing of the Voyager and Odyssey in August 2012 the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center officially ended the Overnight Camp program. The CMSEC's Voyager Era came to a close.  My estimate puts between 40,000 and 50,000 students attended the one to four night overnight camps held year round during those 22 years.  It was an amazing accomplishment representing the talents, drive, and dedication of hundreds of staff and volunteers.  We were overwhelmingly successful in what we accomplished. 

Sadly, many of today's staff and volunteers will never have the opportunity to stage a two night, three-day camp with 40 and 62 campers.  So, why not pick one of those average camps and let you see it through the eyes of the camera. 

For today's post, I chose the first 48 hour, two-night summer camp of the 2007 season as the camp to highlight.  

Loading Stations
     •  All the simulators would still be flying their 4:00 P.M. private missions, so the Center would be busy with activity. 
     •  The camp staff and volunteers would be gathered in the gym waiting for me to start our 6:15 P.M. staff meeting.  About this time I'd walk in and ask why the sign in tables and
chairs weren't set up. The older staff would look around to confirm the fact and wait for the

volunteers to jump up and get the job done. Two tables would be pulled from the stage's
north closet; one set up for sign-ins near the door and the other be set up for me near the gym's south exit. 
     •  I'd sit down at the corner of the sign-in table with the staffing sheet. 
     •  "OK Troops, we've got a full camp with 22 boys and 20 girls, so the boys will be sleeping in the ships (the staff and volunteer girls would moan).  All the ship are flying.  Jon will fly the Voyager, Mark the Magellan, Christine the Odyssey, Megan in the Phoenix and Stacy in the Galileo. The supervisors are.....
     •  Now was the time to ask where the volunteers wanted to work.  "Who is in the middle of passing off a ship?"  The hands would go up.  They got first choice.  Then it went by seniority with the longest-serving volunteers getting the first pick.  The lowest boy or girl on the totem pole usually got stuck in the Galileo or Phoenix doctor. 
     •  Then it was time to assign "loading stations". 
         "Who wants to be the friendly door greeter?" 
         "Who wants to be the friendly hallway pointer?"
         "Who wants boy's gear?"  That would be the person responsible to show where the boys put their sleeping gear.
         "Who wants girl's gear?
         "Who wants to sign in?"  I'd pick four for that job.  They needed to have fairly legible handwriting
      •  The meeting usually ended by 6:30 P.M.  I'd give them a few minutes to use the restroom before reminding them to be in their loading stations at 6:40 P.M. 

Campers Arrive

Of course, I was always in my place at the rank table at 6:40 P.M. but that wasn't always the case with the staff on the sign in table. More times than not I'd send a volunteer out to look for the sign in staff.  Once we were in place I'd give the order. "Go tell them we're ready." 
A volunteer would run to the front door to deliver the message. By then the school's foyer was full of younglings, sleeping bags, pillows, and backpacks.  The camp started. 

The staff not signing in were supposed to be cleaning the ships.  That was sometimes the case. 

As you can see here, BJ Warner and Caity Lee found loading time as the perfect time to eat supper.

Starting the Camp with my well-rehearsed speech
 Around 7:25 P.M. I'd get up from my table to give the "Welcome to the Space Center" speech.  I'd go over the camp schedule, rules, behavior expectations, etc.  The "Welcome" speech always included the Happy Bucket segment.

Mr. Williamson's Happy Bucket Overnight Camp and Super Saturday Speech (as best as I can remember)
Occasionally people get sick during our camps.  Occasionally people explode.

Some people easily explode. They see something they don't like - they vomit.  They smell something disgusting - they vomit. Then there are people like me who rarely, if ever,  throw up.  I threw up once in my entire life. I was 8 years old; it was Valentine's Day. My mother gave me a large bag of those gross, hard candy hearts with little sayings on them. I was suppose to take them to school and pass them out to everyone in my class.

Well, what did the selfish little pig do? I brought the full bag of candy home and secretly ate all of them right before going to bed.  The explosion was Earth shaking.  My bed was covered in partially digested candy Valentine's Day hearts.  Mother was furious that I'd eaten the entire bag at once. She was even more furious I hadn't given them out to my classmates. I was grounded from candy for a long time after that.     

I've seem some very nasty explosions in the 22 years I've run this Center.   During one camp I had a boy raise his hand and tell me that he had to throw up.  "Go!" I said pointing toward the restrooms. I followed a minute behind to check on him.  When I got there, I saw that the bathroom sink was lined with  a gooey mixture of something I identified as having once been Top Ramen.  The boy had both hands on the sink.  His head was perfectly positioned to make another deposit.

"Wow, I guess you didn't like your supper very much," I said to lighten the mood.

"My mom was gone.  My Dad cooked the supper," the boy explained.  His face contorted to show me what he thought of his dad's cooking.

So, what do you do if you feel an explosion coming?   Tell a member of our staff that you're not feeling very good and you need a Happy Bucket.  We have small buckets called Happy Buckets we give to campers who think they might throw up.  They're called Happy Buckets because I'm the one who cleans up the vomit.  So when you get "It" in the bucket, it makes me HAPPY!

You keep the Happy Bucket with you all the time until the feeling is gone.  Just say this to anyone who makes fun of you for having a Happy Bucket,   "I either throw up in the bucket or on you, take your pick!"   

Let's say there isn't enough time to ask for a Happy Bucket. You feel it coming.  It's Mount Vesuvius getting ready to erupt, its Old Faithful ready to spout.  Look for the nearest trash can if we can't get a Happy Bucket to you in time.  If you can't get to a trash can, then look around for some place on the floor that doesn't have carpet.  Cleaning up vomit from a hard floor is easy.  Cleaning a carpet means we have to close the ship, get everyone out, bring in the carpet cleaning machine etc etc.

Let's say there isn't enough time to get a Happy Bucket or a trash can and you can't find uncarpeted floor.  That's when we go to the nuclear option.  Grab the front of your uniform, hold it up from both corners and use it to contain the explosion.  It's going to get on the uniform anyway, so why not use the uniform to keep it off the carpet.  You get yourself cleaned up, the uniform goes to the laundry and all is well.

Now, don't get upset if you throw up.  It's no big deal even if it gets on the carpet.  I'm happy to cleaned it up.  I'm only telling you these things in case there is enough time to do something about it - like ask for a Happy Bucket.  
With the Happy Bucket speech finished, it was time to introduce the Flight Directors and assign the campers to their first rotation, a short 2.5 hour mission to get their feet wet and appetites juiced for the longer 5 hour missions to come the next day.

Assigning campers to their ships.  Taylor Thomas is checking something with Megan before taking the Odyssey Crew.

Off goes the kids assigned to the Odyssey

Casey Voeks is taking the Magellan crew.

All crews made a mandatory stop at the restrooms for the "Washing of the Hands" and "Emptying of the Bladder" ritual.  

Taylor Thomas waits for the Odyssey crew to finish the Restrooms Ritual

Next stop, mission briefings. 
Megan Warners briefs the crew of the Phoenix.  That's Kyle Herring at my desk working on something

Stacy Carrell Briefs the Galileo crew in the Faculty Room.
To Be Continued in the Next Post.......

Mr. Williamson

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Gifs of The Week Edited for a Gentler Audience

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