By Claire Aiello, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
If you have been to Space Camp, or you’ve sent your child, you know it’s a life changing opportunity that opens your eyes to new worlds. At the same time, it also helps broaden your view of the world we call home.
“Every single experience I had was different, and that’s what kept me coming back,” said Diana Hughes, who attended three times in her youth and recently went to an adult camp in 2019. “I loved meeting people from all over the country, and I even had roommates from different countries. It was inspiring to me, coming from a small town in Illinois, to meet people from all over and realize how big the world was.”
Hughes is now the Alumni Engagement Specialist at Space Camp. Her background is in communications and social media, and when she was hired in August 2019, she started by managing social media for Space Camp alumni. She also has been working to update records of where alumni live, and now she is setting up chapters in several large cities to get people engaged with each other. There are chapters established for Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Houston, Washington DC, Phoenix, and Huntsville, one of the larger groups.
“We can share memories, but we can work on initiatives to promote the next generation of campers,” said Hughes. “There are a lot of exciting things happening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp.”
There is definite opportunity for growth. Space Camp opened in 1982, and there are now more than 900,000 alumni worldwide. “We want to reach out to those alumni who go on different career paths and get them re-engaged,” said Hughes.
Space Camp alumni help with many projects, including sharing the unique experience of what students learn. The Space Camp Alumni Association is a working board that helps fund Space Camp scholarships, as well as new buildings and restoration work on the USSRC campus. These include support for new facilities for U.S. Cyber Camp and an upcoming project to restore the Pathfinder Shuttle.
Alumni events are scheduled in several different cities. The first was held earlier this month in Houston, and there are more soon.
Upcoming Space Camp Alumni Events
April 18: Atlanta Chapter Meetup
April 25: USA Science and Engineering Festival, Washington, D.C. (volunteer event for alumni)
May 16: Phoenix Chapter Meetup
May 30: Washington, D.C. Chapter Meetup (at Air & Space Museum)
June 19: New York City Chapter Meetup (at Intrepid Air, Sea, & Space Museum)
July 16-19: Rocket City Summer Fest
Hughes is also planning events for Chicago and the Orlando/ Space Coast area. If you graduated from Space Camp and would like to become active in an alumni chapter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit spacecampalumni.com.
This article appears in the April 2020 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.