I have exciting news that some of you may already be aware of as you follow my social media channels. I am at Space Camp for the next two weeks! This was an unexpected and very welcome addition to my summer schedule. I was not even aware of this until a week ago because I was away at Russian Immersion Camp for part of June and July. Space Camp has invited me down to give my new talk titled “The Mars Generation: It’s Our Time” to all the campers here this week and next week. That’s over 400 campers each week!
Being invited to give an inspirational talk at Space Camp is such an honor. They often have astronauts and engineers and other cool space professionals speak. I am their youngest speaker, which is pretty cool! Being an alumni of Space Camp, and the fact that I am about to leave for college and start the real work towards becoming a PhD scientist and also preparing to apply for the NASA astronaut corps in about 10 years, it’s great to be able to give back to a place that has given me so much over the years.
Space Camp is a special place, a place that I was lucky enough to attend when I was 12 years old because of a nonprofit in Minneapolis called Reach for the Stars. This nonprofit selects 60 kids from a pool of applicants to join them at Space Camp. They run a program for 6 months prior to leaving for camp where bi-weekly the kids meet on a Saturday afternoon for 4 hours to do fun space related stuff and learn more to prepare for Space Camp. They also have an all-go or no-one-goes fundraising approach – which means every family commits privately to what they can pay and then the group fundraises for the remainder amount and everyone goes regardless of their financial means. For me this was a dream come true.
I approached my mom around the age of 11 with the website for Space Camp and was so excited that it existed. She told me she had found this a few years ago when searching for space related activities for me but that it was just too expensive. She was a single mom, and I have an older sister, so the budget had to incorporate both of our needs. She said we would need to wait and see if she could save the money to send me in a few years. And then someone sent her an email about Reach for the Stars, and I applied and got accepted! After attending the first year I babysat all the time to attend every year after – Paying 100% of the cost of the next year’s space camp. After that, my mom agreed to pay 50% every year that I wanted to go and I babysat and saved all year every year to pay the rest.
Now I am here to speak, and I can’t wait! The future of space is here, today now with my generation, the Mars Generation. Any person under the age of 25 is part of the Mars Generation, and I can’t wait to inspire this group of space enthusiasts about our future. Stay tuned for updates. I will eventually post on my YouTube a video that thanks to an amazing Time Magazine Documentary crew, will be recorded! The future is ours! Let’s get to Mars!