Provided by Prince William Composite Squadron
During an unprecedented summer when nearly everything for young people was shut down, there still was fun and learning to be had. Two Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets of Prince William Composite Squadron in Manassas had the opportunity to advance their aerospace education. They attended the Advanced Space Academy in Huntsville, Ala., one of the many camps run by Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Most campers were not able to attend camp this year due to the pandemic. However, Cadet Staff Sergeant Shannon Moritz and Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Chloe Gross were among a select group of campers who were able to attend. Advanced Space Academy is designed for high school-aged campers. Moritz and Gross experienced a variety of astronaut training exercises, engineering challenges, and teambuilding activities, all culminating in an extended simulated space mission. They also learned about neutral buoyance while SCUBA diving in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer.
A six-time alumna of Space Camp, Moritz was devastated when her original camp was cancelled earlier in the summer. Luckily, a space opened for her toward the end of summer. “As an alumna, it was important to show my support, as Space Camp is kind of struggling through this pandemic,” Moritz said. “I was excited to experience something new and different.”
Gross had the opportunity to attend Space Camp for the first time this year after being awarded a scholarship. Even with the challenges that the pandemic posed, she said she was glad that she was able to go. “I am a senior this year, so this summer was one of my last chances to visit Space Camp,” Gross said. “I had a blast learning about the history of the space program, seeing the rockets they have on site, SCUBA diving, flying simulators and acting out Space Shuttle missions with my team. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved everything about outer space, rockets and aviation.”
Advanced Space Academy explores college and career preparation through an immersive experience in science, engineering, technology and math. Both Moritz and Gross are eligible to earn one credit hour of freshman-level general science from University of Alabama in Huntsville in this college-accredited program. “It’s a full week of straight space education,” Moritz explained.
Space Camp has been important to thousands of young people over the years. In fact, Virginia Wing’s Group 3 Deputy Commander, Captain Scott Kaplan is a Space Camp alumnus. “I loved Space Camp and Aviation Challenge,” Kaplan said. “With an interest in aviation and space from the time I was a very young child, the ability to attend the camps allowed me to get deeply involved in better understanding those environments. I still continue to remember the experiences of getting to fly the Space Shuttle and F-14 simulators, taking part in survival training and science experiments. I feel the program is a great introduction to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in space and aviation, a natural match with CAP based on our focus for Aerospace Education.”
Gross agreed with Kaplan about the similar special activities between Space Camp and CAP. She said that both encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, such as SCUBA diving at camp, physical training with CAP, or taking on a leadership role you might not feel ready for. CAP and space camp also both have an emphasis on education, leadership and learning about aerospace.
Moritz, a sophomore at Colgan High School, wants to be an aerospace engineer after high school. “I need to know about past space craft and aircraft as well as the future of the industry. Space Camp gives me that opportunity in a fun and productive way.” Gross would like to continue her aerospace dreams and become a pilot in the Air Force.
For more information about Advanced Space Academy and Space Camp, visit spacecamp.com/space/advancedacademy.