back to top

Adult Space Camp Is A Thing That Actually Exists And We Went To It

Chances are, if you were a child at some point in your life you dreamed of going to Space Camp. Here's what it's like to live that dream as an adult.

Posted on

If you're like us, Space Camp is something that's always present in your life but always out of reach. In between pairs of Skechers and trips to Universal Studios, it was the ultimate prize on every game show growing up.

You dreamed of making it past that last temple guard, of climbing the Agrocrag and getting the holy grail as your prize. It was the promised land. It was a place most kids never got to go to. And now there's only one Space Camp left, located in Huntsville, Ala. (Nope, it's not in Florida!)

The Huntsville Space Camp boasts a number of programs, from child programs to family programs to adult programs. For $549 per person (not including airfare), we would be spending the weekend at ADULT SPACE CAMP.

The first thing you notice at Space Camp is a giant rocket. That's how you know you are in the right place. Clearly a giant rocket is something you'll only find in space/at space-themed places.

Apparently it is visible from all over Huntsville, Ala. Like their very own Empire State Building!

The second thing you notice about Space Camp are the massive amounts of children.

There were literally kids everywhere. Even though we did the adult program, dozens of kid programs were going on during the same weekend. Most were from middle schools with chaperones wearing tie-dyed T-shirts. We were outnumbered.

This is what they look like from the inside:

There are about six bunk beds in each pod, so you could potentially be staying with 12 people. You are provided with sheets and a blanket. To quote a 9-year-old we talked to in line for lunch, the pillows "sunk right around your head — you really needed two."

This is what one of the bunks looked like. Cozy!

The only issue was that at night around 9 p.m., a literal stampede of children came in and shook the entire habitat. Amidst the kids talking about their days, you could hear the chaperones yelling, "NO RUNNING! INSIDE VOICES!" These sounds functioned much like a white-noise generator would, gently lulling us off to sleep. If someone suggests that you move into an apartment building that has literally a hundred children living inside it, you should say probably no.

Especially interesting was this mission, which would finally unite the juggernauts of Space Camp and electronic dance music into a magical duo.

Unfortunately we learned that there was no Skrillex involved, but more on that later.

The last part of Space Camp orientation was meeting the team we'd be assigned to and taking our team photo.

Our team name was Team Challenger, named after the shuttle that blew up in the '80s. Another BAD OMEN. But, as you can see, all bad omens can be erased with the help of some matching free T-shirts. Also, on the far right you can see our team leader, Boogie. He was born in Hunstville, spent six years in Afghanistan, and was a really nice dude!

These are the faces of two people ready to start their Space Camp adventure.

The rest of our team was truly a random assortment of people. One-third of the group was men in their sixties or seventies, another third was made of of people who had received the gift of Space Camp from their spouses, and the last third was everything in between (including us, two twentysomething-year-olds fulfilling a childhood dream).

Afterward, it was time for dinner in the cafeteria.

The cafeteria served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The setup was basically the same as any high school or middle school cafeteria: rows of lunch tables, plastic trays, intense anxiety over finding a good seat.

We spent the next few hours on the "ropes" course. Note that there weren't actually any ropes.

Here we had to come up with three words to represent our group values. As a team we decided on "trust," "enthusiasm," and "honor." "Honor" was originally going to be "ropes," but again, as you can see, there are NO ROPES. A dangerous omen.

The last activity of the day was designing our Team Challenger's mission patch. This was ours:

John Walker our teammate!

Our mission patch was AWESOME. As you can see, it incorporated everything under the sun, including our team ~values~. Sad note, though: We lost in the mission patch competition to the other adult Space Camp team (Team Columbia) the following day. Don't wanna talk about it.

Breakfast was at 7:30 a.m.

In case you didn't know, we were at SPACE CAMP, hence the star-shaped hash browns, planet-shaped Trix, the cloud-shaped eggs, the quasar-shaped bacon, and black hole–shaped French toast sticks. Also, the tray is the same color as water which there is a lot of on Earth, which is a planet. IT'S ALL SPACE AT SPACE CAMP.

Then it was onto the ICONIC Space Camp activities, aka that chair that spins in circles:

The circle thing (real name Multi Axis Trainer, MAT for short) was used during the Mercury program to train for astronaut disorientation. It hasn't been used by the actual Space Program since the '60s.

There are basically three types of jobs you can do. The first is being the commander or the pilot.

As commander or pilot, you are in charge of piloting the orbiter back to the Earth. Piloting the orbiter back to Earth BASICALLY means you are in charge of reading off a giant list of unintelligible things from a checklist that dictates what switches you have to flip. If you are a fan of trying to figure out what switch to flip in your reset box when a fuse blows, you'd love this job.

And finally the best position: MISSION SPECIALIST.

This is when you get to put on a goddamn SPACE SUIT and go up in the air and repair your broken satellite or whatever isn't working. It doesn't matter. You're wearing a space suit. Nothing matters when you have a space suit on. This is Lauren as Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

But when you see the little kids in their space suits, you realize you, as a grown-ass woman, probably don't look as adorable in yours.

Seriously, If I ever have a child, I hope they come right out of the womb in a space suit.

During the EDM (electronic dance mission/extended duration mission), we got to pilot the orbiter back to Earth together.

Not to toot our own horn, but we landed the orbiter SAFELY on Earth. However, everyone inside died due to our extremely slow/inaccurate switch-flipping. Sorry.

Since our rocket launch was canceled due to inclement weather, we decided to take a trip to the gift shop. Here's some of the stuff you can buy at the Space Camp gift shop — and ONLY at the Space Camp gift shop.

The final activity before we received our Space Camp diploma was a space trivia Jeopardy-style game.

We'd be tested on everything we learned this weekend. Topics included early space, rockets, and acronyms.

Would we do it again? I don't know. Would the 8-year-old inside all of us do it again? Absolutely.

All photos taken by Lauren or Dave unless otherwise sourced.