Houston, We Have Dream Liftoff!

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Girl Scout destination to Space Camp – Amanda M.

Ever since Cadette Girl Scout Amanda M. visited the Cosmosphere with her Girl Scout troop in 3rd grade, she has dreamed of being an astronaut.

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By attending The Barstow School, Amanda has also taken classes with Mr. Beier, who happens to also work for NASA studying black holes.

You might see a natural progression and growth of her desire to be an astronaut here.

This summer, Amanda’s dream came true in a big way. Through Girl Scout destinations, Amanda got to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama with 11 other Girl Scouts from around the county.

When the opportunity to go to Space Camp with Girl Scout destinations arose, it was a no-brainer for her mom, Terri Munsell. In fact, when Terri was a Girl Scout in the 70’s and 80’s she traveled with Girl Scouts through a similar program!

For six days, Amanda got to eat, sleep and breathe space!  Included in those days were two special simulated missions, one involving the International Space Station (ISS) and another a lunar mission to Mars. Both experiences gave girls the chance to play different roles such as commander, mission specialists, pilot, capsule communicator and more!

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On their first mission the girls got to work in the movie prop and simulator from “A Smile as Big as the Moon.”

Their first mission also happened to have a movie-type ending.

With five minutes to spare, Amanda and her team ran into a little snafu trying landing their spacecraft. The instructions said to ‘please see landing booklet,’ a very important book that they couldn’t locate. On approach, they realized that they were going to have to forget the landing booklet and land the aircraft manually! Now following verbal commands, they were to engage the landing gears. Once again they were unable to locate the switch!

“With one second left to go, we got the landing gear engaged!” Amanda said.

Not knowing if the gear had engaged in time, they asked if they had indeed survived this simulated mission. As baffled as they were, Houston informed them that they had in fact survived!

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Each morning at Space Camp started with a briefing – just like real NASA training. Then they would go to a training that involved hands-on science experiments with outer space and then eat lunch. For lunch, they were served space food from countries that have sent people to the International Space Station. Dishes were from Japan, Russia, the United States and several other countries.

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One afternoon during Space Camp, Amanda got to hear a special guest speaker, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. Dottie is a former Girl Scout and the first Space Camp alumni to actually travel into space! Originally a teacher, she was recruited by NASA in 2010 for a 15 day mission in order to bring supplies to the ISS and repair the air conditioner.

“She actually had to stay an extra day in space,” Amanda explained. “Oh you know, the heartbreak!”

Clearly she sees no problem with extending one’s time in space!

Dottie explained to the group how every space mission gets to design their own patch that they wear on their space suite. Keeping the similarities between Space Camp and actual NASA missions, each of the teams designed their own patch and Amanda’s team won for best design!

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Before she headed to Huntsville, Amanda watched the movie “Space Camp” to try and get an idea of what to expect.

“After [Space Camp] I wanted to be able to tell myself ‘ok Amanda you can do this.’ I wanted to be inspired; I wanted to learn how it all works. I didn’t want to just learn that [space missions] were a thing; I wanted to learn what issues it could have and how to fix those issues. And I did,” Amanda said.  I got all of my wishes fulfilled.”

To say that Amanda learned a lot at Space Camp is a bit of an understatement. Her and her team successfully completed two missions, which is impressive in itself.

“There are so many girls and people around the country who are interested in space. I’ve never met anyone, other than Mr. Beier, who is into space like I am,” she said. “When I went to Space Camp I got to meet people who will probably be my lifelong friends. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on missions with them one day if I’m an astronaut, no WHEN I’m an astronaut.”

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Ironically enough, virtually every female that’s gone into space is a Girl Scout alumna.

Although she’s only in eighth grade, Amanda knows that big dreams take big plans. Her sights are currently set on MIT or Stanford and after college she plans to gain experience being a fighter pilot before she becomes an astronaut.

We have no doubt that Amanda will achieve her dreams and continue the Girl Scouts in space legacy.

Destination locations for 2016 have just been announced on GSUSA’s website. Head over there and see how you could help your Girl Scout achieve her own lifelong dream!

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