(U.S. Space & Rocket Center)

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless businesses across the nation and around the world have been forced to close their doors, some for good. Nonprofits like the famous Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama have suffered even more.

As a result of the pandemic, attendance at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum and Space Camp has dropped significantly. Though Space Camp reopened following a four month closure, limited admission and a lack of international students forced the weeklong camp programs to close again.



(U.S. Space & Rocket Center)

Overall, the organization has seen a 66% loss in revenue. Having exhausted all funding possibilities, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp will be forced to close in October. To prevent this, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation has started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $1.5 million.

Founded in 1982, Space Camp uses the U.S. space program as the basis to promote math and science to children. The idea for the camp came from famed rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. While touring the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in 1977, von Braun noticed a group of schoolchildren admiring the rockets and said to the museum director, "You know, we have all these camps for youngsters in this country—band camps and cheerleader camps and football camps. Why don't we have science camps?"

While Space Camp is generally used to describe any sort of educational program relating to space, the camp actually offers a variety of programs for different ages and durations of visit. Space Camp is a six-day program for children ages 9-11 and features a curriculum designed to balance education and entertainment. Space Academy caters to children ages 12-14 and is also offered in six-day sessions. Advanced Space Academy (originally called Space Academy Level II) is designed for 15- to 18-year-olds and offers attendees one credit hour of freshman-level general science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Family Camp allows parents or guardians to attend Space Camp with their children aged 7-12 years.

(U.S. Space & Rocket Center)

Following its success, other variations of Space Camp were developed including Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students and Deaf Space Camp. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation also offers scholarships for children who have disabilities, financial needs or other disadvantages to be able to attend Space Camp.

There are also internationally licensed Space Camps including Space Camp Canada, Space Camp Belgium and Space Camp Turkey. Space Camp Florida and Space Camp California opened in 1988 and 1996 respectively, but both closed in 2002 due to financial difficulties caused by low attendance rates.

Throughout its 38 years of operation, Space Camp has educated and inspired thousands of young people to achieve great things. Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger attended Space Academy in 1989 at the age of 14 and became a NASA astronaut in 2006, the first Space Camp alumna to do so. Jasmin Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps test pilot and NASA astronaut, attended Advanced Space Academy in 1998 at the age of 15. Annika Rose Vargas, who donated an incredible $500 to the GoFundMe, found her calling at Space Camp and pursued an engineering degree at UAH. A $250 donation from Sam and Clara Bailey came with a note attesting, "I would not be a UH-60M pilot without [Space Camp]."

(U.S. Space & Rocket Center)

It's not just Space Camp alumni and their family members donating though. One anonymous contributor said, "My grandfather, James Milton Willis, would have been 100 today. He worked on the first Saturn V Rocket. In honor of his birthday, I'm donating $100 to the Space and Rocket Center. Every time I look at that Saturn V Rocket, it reminds me of him. I don't want Huntsville to lose this national gem."

As of July 30, 2020, the 2-day-old GoFundMe has had nearly 6,000 donations and raised over $500,000 of its $1.5 million goal. This incredible outpouring of support is a testament to the positive impact that Space Camp has had on thousands of people who hope that it can continue to do so for generations to come.