HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Sixteen young students, had a summer adventure that was out of this world.
The students, recipients of an Air, Space, and Missile Defense Association scholarship, had a chance to spend a week at Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville June 30-July 5.

On July 3, the scholarship winners were treated to a lunch by members of the ASMDA board and had a chance to speak with those who made the week possible.

"You have come from all over the world to form a new team here at Space Camp this week and I am proud of you," Deborah Barnhart, U.S. Space and Rocket Center chief executive officer and executive director, said to the campers. "If you stay on the track you are on and continue to do just what you are doing, you are going to be successful in your lifetime.

"I am proud of what you are doing and what you are going to do in the future," she added.
Since 1996, ASMDA has sent more than 200 students to Space Camp.

Children, ages 9-11, of a parent or guardian currently assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, Missile and Space Intelligence Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and Missile Defense Agency, whether military or government civilian, are eligible for the scholarship.

The 16 Space Camp students this year are from Huntsville, Decatur and Madison; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fort Greely and Delta Junction, Alaska; Germany; and Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. They are: Laura Damewood, Sean McKenna-Ambrose, Sarah Mitchell, Erin Neal, Kevin Nguyen, Thomas Nguyen, Eryn Roper, Claudia Vargas-Ramirez, Brenna Marchuk, Emily Gerry, Delaina Pugh, Jonah Perez, Kathryn Montgomery, Ashley Homuth, Kayla Hepler and Elizabeth Cardin.

"We are so glad you are here," said Doug Allen, ASMDA vice president. "You are amazing, and I really hope this experience here shows you that you can do anything if you put your heart into it. If you dare to dream, you can do it.

"We look forward to what your generation is going to do," he added. "You are going to take us to places unimagined, now and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you."

Students were selected for the scholarship based on an essay, school grades, interest in science and space, and financial need. The scholarship covers one week at Space Camp, travel, a flight suit, clothing package, a calling card and spending money.

"Thanks to ASMDA for once again sponsoring the Space Camp scholarships and to the Space and Rocket Center for hosting the luncheon," said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general. "And for the campers, we are very proud of you for being selected to come to Space Camp and to learn and to reinforce your interest in space-, math- and science-related fields.

"All of you represent the communities in which you live and the organizations that your parents belong to, but mostly you represent yourselves: incredibly smart, inquisitive, adaptable, fun-loving and adventurous. You will need all those attributes as you participate at Space Camp this summer," he added. "A lot of what you are going to learn this week is related to space and science and math, and to try to create that enthusiasm in your studies. How hard you work and how hard you study will go a long way in defining who you will be and what you will become in the future."

After the luncheon, some of the campers spoke about what they had learned and how excited they were to be at Space Camp.

"Space Camp has been super, super fun," said 10-year-old camper Delaina Pugh from Fort Greely, Alaska. "I have had so much fun. I have been on as many rides as I can and have enjoyed doing the missions.

"Meeting the general was really cool and he gave us lots of pointers," she added. "I would tell other students interested to study really hard and do what they can to come here because it is a great chance to do something different and fun. I love it here."

The luncheon was held as part of the children's overall week at Space Camp.

During the week, the children participated in activities, including rocket construction and launch, water activities, a simulated Space Shuttle mission, Mars mission simulators, Manned Maneuvering Unit and Multi-Axis Trainer, and enjoyed an IMAX movie.

"Space Camp has been fun," said 11-year-old Kayla Hepler from Kwajalein. "I've gotten to meet lots of new friends, and we've learned a lot too.

"I think everyone who wants to come should dream big and do this," she added. "I have really enjoyed doing the missions with everyone. I'll never forget this."