SCIVIS (Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students) takes place at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama each year around September – and a small group from Victoria, Australia has made the trek to join in the fun and learning every year or so since 1998.
The Victorian group is generally away for up to three weeks, participating in tourist adventures in Los Angeles including Disneyland, Universal Studios etc on the way! One group even ventured to New York!
The whole experience is really an “adventure of a lifetime”.
The Space Camp program itself runs for 6 days and attracts over 200 students with vision impairments and their chaperones each year. The program is quite unique in that students live in a simulated space station and have the opportunity to practise their leadership and teamwork abilities as they participate in simulated space shuttle missions.
Amongst other amazing adventures, students are able to pilot simulators, participate in search and rescue missions and learn the basics of land and water survival, in a program designed to educate young people about aviation and the space program.
This camp changes students’ lives, for example one former participant was so inspired following his time at Space Camp that he went on to study astronomy at PhD level at university. Another loved the North American culture so much that she applied to Yale University where studied on a full scholarship. But often it is the little things that make the difference, for example the opportunity to see other students using their monoculars or their canes to enable independence, realising that there are others with albinism in the world, spending time in an environment where materials are available in a suitable format, or making connections with an international blindness community…
Here is what one 14 year-old student wrote upon her return in 1998:
“….it was more than a once in a lifetime experience, it was the time of our lives. It helped us not only realise that if we try hard and aim for the sky we can reach the stars, but we also met friends that would last a lifetime. We had briefings before each of our missions and really nice food. We lived each day as if it were our last and can recall every minute spent with our friends. The hardest and saddest time over there was saying goodbye. Our hearts were broken as left a part of us stayed forever. We learnt knowledge that we can use in our curriculum, met others with similar problems, and ways to deal with it.”
Read our stories and see our photos (coming soon!):
- Space Camp 1999
- Space Camp 2001
- Space Camp 2002
- Space Camp 2003
- Space Camp 2004
- Space Camp 2006
- Space Camp 2009
- Space Camp 2012 – and page 18-20 of the December 2012 issue of the DEECD magazine Inspire
- Kate’s Story written in early 2012
Watch some videos
Nic Bonne Space Camper 1999 and 2000, speaks in 2012 about Space Camp and his current study in Astronomy.
Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) – Part 1 – YouTube video which presents an overview of the camp (skip the first minute or two)
Space Camp for interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) – Part 2 – YouTube video focusses on the Aviation Challenge program at Space Camp
Sports Access – great overview and footage of Space Camp, 2014
For more information about SCIVIS visit the Texas School for the Blind website.
For further information: why the SVRC supports camps and activities, see Opportunity of a Lifetime: Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center.