Every year we spend time in Huntsville, Alabama visiting family, hanging out, visiting museums, catching a blockbuster movie and going shopping. For as long as I have known about Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Rocket City, I have wanted to attend. Being an astronaut was never something I dreamed of doing but the coolness of this camp has always intrigued me.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a camp geared toward my age group, but I knew I could live vicariously through my girls when they were old enough (or big enough) to attend Space Camp. I would have never guessed that fate had a different path set for us. A few years ago, we won a trip to Family Space Camp in a promotion run through the Huntsville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. It was a dream come true and I’m not sure who was more excited… them or me.
I’m pretty sure it was me because, well, SPACE CAMP! Unlike the regular training camps, the family camp is only for a few short days. Not an exciting week-long event, but they crammed a lot of awesomeness into a weekend. If Space Camp is on your bucket list, don’t hesitate to grab your family and go. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s truly an amazing experience that you won’t regret. So let’s get you prepared!
5 Things to Pack for Space Camp
Whether you are attending a weekend family camp or a week long kid camp, there are certain items you should be sure to pack. When you register, they provide a list of the obvious things you’ll need but these are a few of the things that went unmentioned (or that we forgot to bring).
Something to help you be comfortable. Bedding is included – as is a pillow – but it isn’t the best. The beds are basically plywood with a thin mattress so having a comfortable place to lay your head is essential. We didn’t know this and it definitely took a toll on our rest. While we only endured it for a few days, I’m certain someone attending a week-long camp would greatly benefit from a comfortable pillow.
While the habitat where you live for your stay is secure from visitors, the individual rooms are not. With family Space Camp, your family has their own room, but with individual Space Camp, you are sharing with people you don’t know. The habitat rooms all have lockers inside where you store your personal items. It’s good to trust your fellow trainees, but it is better to be safe than sorry. A combination lock, which doesn’t require you to carry a key, is a small price to pay for some peace of mind… As well as some privacy.
The camp provides bedding but you’re on your own for bath linens. You’ll need a towel and washcloth. That’s in addition to the normal bathroom stuff you would pack. I recommend purchasing something small and inexpensive that you can toss if you’re traveling by air and have to make it all fit in a suitcase. A swimmer’s towel would be a great alternative since you won’t be wandering the halls in a towel anyhow.
The camp has a rule that if you’re in the hallways, you can’t be barefoot. Pack a multi-purpose pair that you can use not only to get down the hall to the showers or restrooms but ones diverse enough to wear into the shower. They keep the shower area and restrooms clean but any time you share a shower with umpteen other people, you never know what your feet will encounter. Waterproof flip flops are inexpensive and lightweight making them a perfect choice.
Trainees are on the go from the time they get their wake up call until the trainers call for lights out. It’s helpful to have something that you can toss your notebook into during meals or to hold your belongings while you are on a mission or taking a spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT) simulator. The first day, I carried my camera around my neck and my notebook in my hand but when it came time to eat, I felt like I was having to juggle everything. On the second day, I used a drawstring backpack and was able to toss everything in it and throw it onto my back (and out of the way) while we were eating. It was also nice for corralling my stuff in one place while participating in activities that required us to empty our pockets.
The list provided by the camp was extremely helpful, but these are a few of the things we felt would have added to our experience. I want to leave you with one other piece of advice: Whether you are attending as a family or your child is attending Space Camp alone, don’t opt out of anything. Participate in everything they have to offer. It is a once in a lifetime experience so just go for it! Don’t let your fears prevent you from trying all the activities.
Have you ever wished you could attend Space Camp?