HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Sixteen young students had a summer adventure among the stars.
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 29-July 4.

On July 2, the scholarship winners were treated to lunch by members of the ASMDA board and had a chance to speak with those who made the week possible.

"This is one of our favorite programs," said Brenda Carr, U.S. Space and Rocket Center vice president of Development. "You join more than 200 students who have come through this program courtesy of ASMDA. There were a record number of applicants this year and judging was hard, so congratulations to each of you."

Since 1996, ASMDA has sponsored 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, for their Space Camp scholarship.

The 16 Space Camp students this year are from Madison, Brownsboro and Hampton Cove; Fort Greely and Delta Junction, Alaska; Fayetteville, Tenn.; Aliquippa, Penn.; Bellevue, Neb.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. They are: Kennedy Gibson, Catherine Hare, Faith Johnson, Maanasi Limaye, Ethan Willcockson, Alena Crabtree, Woodson Hicks, Emmalee Jones, Steven Stalp II, Griffin Stevenson, Luke Guzman, Mackenna Guadagnoli, Tripp Foster, Morgan Dethlefsen, Sean Hepler and Ryan Hess.

"We are so, so happy to welcome you this year to our 18th annual space camp," said Doug Allen, ASMDA president. "You might ask why we are interested in you. You are the next generation coming up, and we want to give you everything we can to promote science and engineering.

"Congratulations again for being selected, and we are so proud of you and hope you enjoy the rest of your time here at Space Camp," he added.

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.

"I would like to say thank you to the Air Space and Missile Defense Association for sponsoring 16 young individuals to attend Space Camp. Thank you for believing in our future," said Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general. "I would like to thank the U.S. Space and Rocket Center for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today, and for providing a place for folks, both young and old, to learn about space exploration.

"I'm a Soldier in the U.S. Army," he added. "You may wonder what does the Army have to do with space and space flight. Well, the Army happens to be the largest user of space in our military. In fact, my organization is involved in many different space related technologies. Did you know the Army sent the first U.S. object into space, Explorer 1, in 1958."

Mann talked to the campers and told them how proud everyone was of them for being selected to come to Space Camp and to learn more about space-, math- and science-related fields.

"Everyone here is curious about space flight and other planets but don't allow your curiosity to be limited to one subject. Explore your world and ask questions," Mann said. "The world is a complex and wonderful place. Let your curiosities guide you and drive you to understand about your world and worlds beyond this one. You owe it to yourself to seek answers, possibly to questions we don't even know to ask yet.

"Astronauts do things that have never been done, with technology that has never been used before, and in order to accomplish these feats we need smart young men and women who are curious about our world and worlds beyond," he added. "You all have it in you to be astronauts, mathematicians, politicians, or whatever you want to be in life, but you have to work hard and always remain curious."

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 awesome," said 11-year-old Tripp Foster from Fayetteville, Tenn. "I ended up being the shuttle commander. It is hard though, I accidentally left my mission specialist in space. I couldn't go back to get him so we just left him floating in space.

"Even though it is hard sometimes, it is really a great experience," he added. "This is great and I am really glad to be 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, Multi-Axis Trainer, and enjoyed an IMAX movie.

"Space Camp has been really fun," said 11-year-old camper Emmalee Jones from Colorado Springs, Colo. "I was the shuttle pilot and we got to push a lot of buttons.

"I would definitely recommend others coming to space camp," she added. "This has honestly been a really great experience. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am glad I got to come."