By Gillian Burdett
The launch and return of SpaceX rocket Falcon Heavy in February 2018 captured the imagination of people around the world. The successful mission moves humankind closer to achieving the stuff of science fiction, commercial space travel and planet colonization. If your kids are visionaries with wide-eyed focus on the stars or simply curious kids wanting a more focused camping experience, one of these space camps may be a good fit.
Camp Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
State Road 405
Kennedy Space Center Florida 32899
Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast is across the river from Cape Canaveral, the site of many exciting rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center weeklong day camps immerse campers in STEM-based activities as they problem-solve for mission planning. Kids may tour the interactive Kennedy Space Center, participate in astronaut training and spend a virtual day on Mars. Sessions open in early June and run through July. Programs are available for second through eleventh-grade students. Tuition includes lunch and snacks. The camp offers transportation from Orlando, Satellite Beach, West Melbourne and Viera, Florida.
Virginia Space Flight Academy
33531 Chincoteague Road
Wallops Island, Virginia 23337
Virginia Space Flight Academy is designed for middle school students aged 11 – 15. This residential camp holds weeklong sessions that end with graduation from the Space Flight Academy. Campers learn rocketry by building their own rocket using CAD design and 3D printers. In the Robotics program, kids are challenged to design robots using Lego Mindstorm kits.
Camp activities include field trips to the nearby NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the NOAA weather facility and the Navy’s Surface Combat System Center. In the evening, a variety of activities ensures campers don’t miss out on traditional summertime fun such as miniature golf, go-cart racing and trips to the ice cream stand.
U.S. Rocket and Space Center
One Tranquility Base
Huntsville, Alabama 35805
Space Camp is surrounded by one of the nation’s largest research parks. Its alumni include NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers. The program is open to fourth grade through high school students. The residential camp offers immersive experiences in space, aviation, robotics and cyber technologies. Space Camp activities include rocket construction, simulated launches to the International Space Station and design and construction of a Mars colony. Special programs are offered for hearing, visually impaired and other special need campers.