ASG Space Camp: The biggest most extraordinary week of Meth Prathapsinghe's life

by Nicole Gundi | Nov 10, 2017

`Visualize this. In the coldest weeks of July being weighed down by unimaginable pressures from school and elsewhere, when the music keeping your head straight and consciousness sane is starting to fade, when the colours of the world around you start to grey, you end up flying over to sweet sunny Alabama to be blessed with the company of hundreds of people from all over the world for a week-long space program.

Team Alba monkey and spoons


So, I found myself, one mischievous and fun loving individual, travelling to a dream destination to represent my country along with another lovely student from Victoria named Lauren and a down to earth and insouciant teacher named Jake.

My story of space camp is one based on music, chocolate milk, squirrels, monkeys, spoons, dog tags, rule breaking, room 202 and a family of 14.   


Excited was one of the many feelings that propelled me through the 15-hour flight to Dallas, but the real journey began when we arrived at Huntsville and were greeted by two space camp staff. The entire airport along with the music that was playing in the van that drove us to the US Space & Rocket Center were themed completely on space. We arrived at midnight which hid the rockets under a veil of stars and darkness, however even then we could see the outline of the huge Saturn V rocket on display.

Saturn V

My assigned team began as Alba. A group of individuals; five from America, five from New Zealand, one from Bulgaria, one from Belgium, one from Norway and 1 from Australia, loosely stitched together through green wristbands with the word Alba on it.
Yet it was within merely minutes that we began to open up to each other. We taught each other that a life without being yourself isn’t a life worth living. As a team, we became known as the group that broke the system, or the ones that blasted music wherever they went, or the ones that set all the trends. 

Meth with mates

Our week hinged on our newfound bonds. Everything we did was fun… but not just for us. Our group was a special one, out of all the groups that attended the camp, we received the ‘most outstanding’ award purely because we broke the rules with respect, without hurting anyone and for the purpose of everyone having fun.

In terms of activities, my personal favourite was scuba diving in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer (UAT) which was essentially a huge scuba tank with windows looking out into the public area of the park. However, the action-packed week also consisted of rock climbing, ziplining, team building games, a leap of faith, short classes to assist in our missions, flight simulators, gravity simulators, rocket building, two one-hour missions and one major three-hour mission to Mars.  Meth ziplining

Apart from these activities, we created fun elsewhere. We were able to break the record for the most amount of people in a room by fitting 17 people in a room made for seven. Additionally, we created the two-chocolate-milks-at-every-meal trend, the carry-around-a-monkey trend, the miss-a-class-because-we-were-chasing-squirrels trend and the team-dog-tags trend.

Our music was loud, our dancing was weird and wonderful and our group was crazy. But most importantly… The US Space & Rocket Center had a machine that dispensed plastic spoons! I think we set a record for most plastic spoons *borrowed* at the space academy (I say borrowed because they never left the centre, they were only liberated from their machines to our rooms). All of these wacky events lead to the final part of our journey.  Meth break dancingGirls in Meth's group posing

The three-hour Mars mission.
Our biggest focus as a group. It went a little something like this:
“T-9:00 = All clear, countdown resumed, crew woken up (Despacito)
T-2:30 = A monkey was found stowed away but was accepted as part of the crew
T-0:00 = All checks complete, take off complete, on flight journey
T+4:00 = DDT 2 knocked out by a flying object on launch, possibly a UE boom 2 speaker that was illegally brought on board – HEAD TRAUMA
T+11:30 = All clear, perfect flight path
- Orbit Confirmed –
- Suiting up –
T+183/20:50:00 = Space ghost tried to bait the team into walking onto Mars before wearing space suit
T+183/20:54:30 – FIRST STEPS ON MARS

On the final day of space camp, our team decided to reflect on our thoughts of the camp. It became known to us that two of our own were ‘introverts’ and were ‘losing friends’ and that we, as a family, had changed their lives. My reflection sounded more like: “before I came here, I was on top of the world. But today I've realized that we are now in space! However, in all seriousness I loved this camp and I think it's because of all of you.”

To top it all off, our teamwork lead to the acquisition of the ‘most outstanding team award’. Despite the immense amount of enjoyment we all had, the week had to come to an end. Being the first to leave was possibly the most tear-jerking moment of the entire camp. In fact, I ended up on someone’s shoulders and was almost kidnapped by my group so that I could join them for graduation. However, the flight back home was calling.   Meth with team mates making heart with hands

The joy I experienced cannot be expressed in words yet this report was my delicate attempt to explain it. For that reason, I spent my first day back in Australia making a video dedicated to our team

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