Want to go to space? Try starting in Huntsville, Alabama.
Space Camp, a six-day, interactive educational program/camp for people of all ages at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, seeks to get visitors excited about space exploration.
“It promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while training them with missions based on teamwork, decision-making, and leadership and hands-on activities,” said Patricia Ammons, director of communications for the center.
Hockaday School freshman Sydney Slay is a repeat camper.
“If you are interested in space and STEM, or if you just want to have an amazing six days with rockets, artifacts, simulators, and people who are truly passionate about space, I highly recommend Space Camp because it is changing my life,” the 14-year-old said.
“Space Camp creates a place for kids from all around the world to share their passion for STEM and space with others and allows them to have a community of people who share their interest.” -Sydney Slay
Sydney said she has always had an intense interest in STEM and became focused on space in seventh-grade.
The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization and three years of completion in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics competition encouraged her interest in design and engineering, she said.
Sydney first attended Space Camp two years ago when she was 13 and built on that experience when she returned in the summer of 2019.
“My second Space Camp trip allowed me to experience new aspects of the camp that I was not able to the previous year,” she explained. “I was able to listen to new seminars and speak to different astronaut speakers. It also allowed me to think of future plans of how I could become involved with STEM and space.”
During this past summer’s camp, she earned the Right Stuff Award, named for Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book The Right Stuff, and given to an outstanding trainee who goes above and beyond in leadership, teamwork, and technology.
Slay comes from a STEM-focused family. Her maternal grandfather worked for AMF (American Machine and Foundry) as an engineer, and her father’s mechanical skills show in his hobby of restoring classic cars.
Sydney’s mother, Alicia, recognizes the impact Space Camp has had on her daughter.
“What I truly appreciate about the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, home of Space Camp, is the international and cross-culture collaboration environment that each of the students has the opportunity to experience while learning about space,” Alica Slay said.
Sydney also values the cross-cultural experience.
“At Space Camp, I am astonished by the diversity and different cultures that are represented at the camp,” she said. “Space Camp creates a place for kids from all around the world to share their passion for STEM and space with others and allows them to have a community of people who share their interest.”