ABOUT US

Space Camp® launched in 1982 to inspire and motivate young people from around the country to join the ranks of space pioneers who persevere to push the boundaries of human exploration. Today, with attendees from all 50 states, territories and more than 60 foreign countries, the immersive program continues to challenge young people to dream of a future in space. With the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® as home base, trainees have an unparalleled environment to spur imagination.

The Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board (AAB) represents all Space Camp®, Aviation Challenge® and Robotics Camp STEM education program alumni. The AAB serves to harness the knowledge, abilities, and resources of camp program trainee and staff alumni for the advancement of programs, projects, and initiatives benefiting Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center as a whole, while also inspiring both current and future alumni to action. Share YOUR alumni story.

Space Camp has attracted more than 600,000 trainees since its inception.

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VOLUNTEERS

Throughout the year, volunteers are often needed to create the success at our events around the globe. Volunteer Now!

OUTREACH

Anchors the global community of alumni uniting them all for enticing events, celebrations and opportunities

FUNDRAISING

Endows the goals of the Board and the dreams of our future leaders

PROJECTS

Operationalizes and spearheads efforts to achieve the vision and goals of the Board and Camp

Briefing Room

This summer at Alumni Weekend, Katie Roller Schulz Ditchen, Chair of the Fundraising Committee, and I, Ben Chandler, your Vice-Chair of the Alumni Advancement Board, had the privilege of presenting four incredible alumni with awards to honor their commitment to alumni advancement during the Hall of Fame dinner. These particular alumni have devoted a substantial amount of time and resources to mobilizing the community and getting the word out about our movement. With this first night of recognition, we hope to have carved the path forward to continue recognizing the accomplishments, leadership, and contributions of our Alumni community.

The CEO Leadership Award was given to AAB Chair John Ramsey. John has been a constant driving force within the AAB over the last year. His commitment and work ethic are inspirational. Through John’s leadership the AAB has successfully raised $70,000 towards the movement of the Shuttle Training Aircraft, organized a significant alumni presence at EAA/Oshkosh 2014, and along with Chris Key, a fellow AAB board member, helped honor the Tuskegee Airman with our rededicated Red Tail F-16. BIG THANKS, JOHN!

The Space Camp Foundation Award was presented to Darlene Perry Smith. The Foundation Award is given too an alumni whose fundraising efforts have helped further the USSRC and its missions. Darlene, a past AAB Board member, has shown us what is possible when intelligence, creativity and opportunity are combined. Many, many thanks, Darlene!

The Space Camp Pinnacle Award went to alumni Brian Matney, whose innovation and creativity designed our new Alumni logo. Brian is truly an artist. We are very fortunate to have him engaged with Space Camp and donating his time to the Alumni community. His logo designing skills were, of course, fostered at Space Camp designing mission patches for his teams as a child. Truly impressive Brian!

It came as no shock that Whitney Zatzkin received the Space Camp Spirit Award for her contribution to outreach. Whitney and her husband Jake are the only reason we have launched SpaceCampAlumni.com. As if that wasn’t enough, Whitney spent 7 days at Oshkosh, serving as the social media lead for the multiple accounts of USSRC and the newly launched accounts for AAB. She is without a doubt one of the most capable/hardworking people I have ever met.

Truly an evening with leaders! We sincerely hope these recognitions inspire the next year of activity and dedication to the Alumni community here at SpaceCampAlumni.com.

Further, we hope it inspires your commitment to join us in 2015 at Alumni Weekend! See you there!

 

Ben Chandler

Vice-Chair of the Board

Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board

As I sit here having finally caught my breath from a wonderful whirlwind Alumni Weekend, I can’t help but reflect on the past 6 months and where we’ve been as a new “alumni movement.” While looking over my shoulder at the runway behind us, it’s hard to resist looking skyward with child-like excitement on what the future may hold in store.

We’ve accomplished much since late February when the Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board was formed and shortly thereafter the launch of the Space Camp Alumni Association. Right out of the gate this alumni community made it’s presence felt with a wonderful outpouring of support for the IndieGogo crowd funding campaign in support of the new Shuttle Training Aircraft exhibit in Shuttle Park. Over $70,000 in 60 days! That’s truly amazing and my hat is off to the alumni community for banding together and playing a major role in that success – one that we’ll soon all enjoy as the STA makes the journey to Huntsville this Fall.

As a follow-up project, the AAB and broader alumni community stepped up to help in so many ways – from bringing kids to camp via scholarships, to the preparations for Alumni Weekend, to a significant summer endeavor – providing staffing support to the Center and Camp to facilitate a large presence at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, WI. Our goals have remained constant: to bring the alumni community together and to bring the Camp experience to more kids.

While on the ground for the week at AirVenture, the AAB connected with every decade of Camp alumni including current NASA aviators, alumni who serve as active duty members of the Air Force, families and individuals from our campuses around the globe and even graduates from the week before! Onsite volunteers from the Alumni Association, included alumni from Aviation Challenge, Space Camp and Space Academy and the Honeywell Teachers Academy. We welcomed guests from EAA Young Eagles, Boys and Girls Club of America, ESA, NASA, U.S. Air Force, and Women in Aviation, to relive or experience the multi-axis trainer. We even had one of the original teacher scholarship recipients visit us and tell her how meaningful the Christa McAuliffe Scholarship experience was for her, to this day, nearly a decade after her retirement from teaching.

In the weeks leading up to and through the week in Oshkosh, “Team F-16” rose up from the alumni community to work on a restoration project at Aviation Challenge. The efforts of a vast community that included members of the AAB, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and the Space Camp Hall of Fame as well as students from Tuskegee University, and several employees and interns from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center prepared the F-16 for it’s dedication to the storied Tuskegee Airmen.

Which brings us to Alumni Weekend, which many of us were so fortunate to participate in this past weekend. This past weekend the Space Camp Hall of Fame inducted three new members to its ranks: Kaya Tuncer, founder of Space Camp Turkey, Michelle Ham, founder of Higher Orbits, and Samantha Cristoforetti, astronaut with the European Space Agency. The AAB recognized several members of the community for their efforts to-date and the silent auction that night opened the doors for more kids to attend Camp this year. Most significantly, however, we were all able to gather at Aviation Challenge with dignitaries from State of Alabama and the Armed Forces for the dedication of the F-16 Red Tail to the Tuskegee Airmen. Seven of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen attended the event in person this weekend and stood proudly, sharing their stories with the several hundred of us in attendance.

It’s been quite a first 6 months!

We’re learning as we go – and building out numerous initiatives and channels for all alumni to be involved and give back to the institution that we all hold so dear. I was touched and heartened this past weekend by the genuine passion and excitement expressed by so many in the alumni movement and the goals and outcomes we’ve envisioned for our future endeavors.

Thanks extend to you all for your support, interest, and commitment to making a difference for current and future generations at Space Camp. Together, this community of 650,000+ can do remarkable things. I anxiously await the next steps in this awesome journey we’ve undertaken together.

 

Ad astra per alas fideles,

John Ramsey

Chairman

Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board

 

 

 

The United States Air Force’s F-16 was designed to push the edge and challenge conventional combat assumptions at a time when air-to-air missiles were meant to reign supreme. Aviation Challenge and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is home to a 1978 model F-16. This year the Alumni community came together with the Space Center to restore this aircraft to a condition befitting its military service.

As we began to seek support for restoring the Aviation Challenge aircraft, the 187th Tactical Fighter Wing, based out of Dannelly Field in Montgomery, AL, reached out with the desire to assist the project, making a request to change the livery of the aircraft. Currently, the 187th Tactical Fighter Wing is home to the 100th Fighter Squadron – the Red Tails.

The 100th Fighter Squadron has been activated and retired a number of times throughout history. In 2007, the Alabama legislature requested of the Air National Guard Bureau that the 160th Fighter Squadron be re-designated as the 100th Fighter Squadron in honor of the famous Tuskegee Airmen’s Alabama heritage. It was agreed and executed in September of 2009. To celebrate the revival of the 100th, the squadron’s F-16s (C and D models) were painted with a bright red tail and white lettering and logos to echo the designs used on the WWII era P-51 Mustangs. This livery was used for only one year. Currently, the 100th uses a lower profile red stripe with the word “Alabama” in white letters at the top of the vertical stabilizer.

This Spring, we collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to receive special permission to refurbish and paint the F-16 at Aviation Challenge in the famed red colors of the Tuskegee Airmen.

PPG Industries came forward to support the project by providing the paint, namely the notorious bright red of which the Tuskegee Airmen are famed. Over the past two months, countless staff and volunteers from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Space Camp Alumni Association, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and a member of the Space Camp Hall of Fame contributed their Saturday mornings to restore the aircraft, construct a new concrete pad, and relocate to a new home in front of the Aviation Challenge Bubble.

At present, the current Red Tail team is currently deployed and flying in Afghanistan – we have been fortunate to have a few of the active team participate in this project prior to that deployment.

The Red Tails are an endless source of inspiration for aviators around the world and that’s what we try to do every day at Space Camp and Aviation Challenge — inspire the next generation. We are doing it for the original Tuskegee Airmen, to honor their pivotal role in military aviation history and anchor the Red Tails story at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in their home base in the state of Alabama.

Join us, and five of the surviving original Tuskegee Airmen, for the dedication of the F-16 Red Tail commemorating Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen at the Aviation Challenge Facility – U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 10 a.m. Celebrate with us as we honor the Tuskegee Airmen, who served our nation as fighter pilots, instructors, suppliers and mechanics during World War II, and as inspiration for generations since.

 

Spit fire!

 

A few pictures of the progress before the full unveiling:

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Meet The Team

Barbara Jo Webb
Board Member
Ben Chandler
Co-Chair
Dan Oates
Board Member
Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin
Board Member
Mike Brennison
Board Member
Christopher Key
Board Member
John Ramsey
Chair
John Ratnaswamy
Board Member
Charity Stewart
Board Member
Kate Schulz
Board Member
Beth Mitchell Gencel
Board Member
Kristy Ingram
Board Member
  • “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with the greatest caution.”

    Wernher von Braun




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