In 1986, the movie "Space Camp
" was released. This was my all-time favorite movie
... at that exact moment. I'd recently entered into double-digits (10) and realized that becoming an astronaut was my number-one priority in life. The logical step to making that dream a reality was training at the real Space Camp
, a week-long sleepover camp in Huntsville, Ala.
So in the summer of 1987, that's exactly what I did.
My parents agreed on the condition that I did well in school the entire year before, but honestly, I think that getting to go was a product of my parents' recent divorce. But I didn't care. I don't remember if my friends were jealous, but I know to this day they do all remember that I went to Space Camp, so I must have been talking about it. A LOT.
I had it all planned out in my head: I'd be Kathryn Fairly (played by Lea Thompson in the movie) and would meet my own Kevin Donaldson (the dreamy Tate Donovan). I'd be on the team that got picked to sit in a NASA shuttle and as luck would have it, I would accidentally be launched into space. After all, aside from "Harry and the Hendersons," movies had never lied to me before.
Things didn't exactly go according to plan. Click here to read what Space Camp is really like.
Oh, I definitely found my "true love" at the "barracks" (Space Camp slang for cabins), but the similarities pretty much ended there.
First, we were divided into teams (okay similarity #2), with whom we would complete various space tasks. For one challenge, we built a model shuttle and launched it during the "contest." My shuttle won, souring the camp-male opinion of me a bit, while boosting my own.
But the ultimate task was to pull off a successful shuttle landing as a team in the infamous flight simulator. Camp counselors assigned roles; the position that everyone wanted was Shuttle Commander, just like in the movie. (Kathryn desperately wants to be Shuttle Commander, the prestigious position, but gets beaten out by her love interest, Kevin.)
My reality was a bit sweeter: I was tapped as Shuttle Commander while Paul, my "love interest," stalled out at Pilot. I remember the bitterness in his voice every time he said "Aye, Commander." Of course, my team successfully landed our Shuttle and graduated Space Camp with flying colors (pun way intended).
I'm a little further into my double-digits (30-something) and, unfortunately, I did not become an astronaut nor do I foresee going to space in my immediate future. The experience really did teach me some valuable Earth lessons -- movies aren't real life (shocker), and I always know I can do anything as well, if not better, than the guys.
I still obsess about space travel and wonder what it's like up there. And, of course, "Space Camp" is pretty much always in my Netflix queue. A girl can still dream! Diedre Ayers lives in New York City and is a Communications Manager for AOL Corporate Communications. She still is passionate about NASA's space program and dreams about making it to space in her lifetime.