Space Camp, Alabama 2014
I didn't actually get to go on this part of the Round the World Journey. It was just for the younger members of the tribe. Number 1 son headed back to Space Camp for the fourth year running with Number 2 going back after missing last year. We were fortunate enough to get to go the first year with them as we did the Parent Child camp. Even better, it was the year the Science of Star Wars exhibit was visiting the Rocket Center so we did Jedi Parent child camp. In addition to all of the usual fun activities like being spun in a centrifuge and space walking, we explored whether faster than light speed travel would ever be possible and whether you could make a light sabre. It was one of our best family weekends ever.
In 2012 and 2013, Number 1 chose to do a week of the more military Aviation Challenge followed by a week of Space Camp while Number 2 did Aviation Challenge (having opted for tennis camp with his other week). As they are now both speaking entirely in acronyms I'm not quite sure what it entailed. It seems there were flight simulators (F-16, F-15, and F-18) with planned hops like in top Gun. There were evasion manoeuvres that make capture the flag sound like a cake walk. They did first aid training and water recoveries. Their helicopter crashed in a swamp and they had to make their way out helping their injured team members (as there isn't a scratch on them I assume this was a drill).
Space Camp saw Number 1 creating plans for a moon base with his team and then standing up to present their ideas. They created heat shields from various spare parts -- that actually worked. They were spun around in the MAT. They participated in shuttle missions both as ground control and as mission specialists aboard the shuttle. All of this overseen by a team of dedicated staff, mostly with an engineering background. Who knew learning could be so much fun.
In 2014, the eldest opted for the robotics challenge in addition to his annual week of space camp. The emphasis on team work was really good for him as they all sought to solve complex problems with the Lego robotics. I was especially impressed to hear that they were asked to think through some marketing and business concepts for their projects. The younger did his annual year at Aviation Challenge and is seriously considering a career in the Air Force. I was so impressed that he was awarded the Right Stuff for his leadership and approach to his team. It really captures the spirit of his empathetic personality - not taking charge but leading inclusively. Most importantly, they make some great friends from all over the USA.