Smurfs Gone Green

The place where campers hang out after a long day in the sims.

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Smurfs Gone Green

Post by Red Bull »

I must preface this with I went to Space Academy in 1990! I even worked as a Smurf from 2000 to 2004 when I was traded to AC for a player to be named later...

Is it good for so many Smurfs to defect to Greenland? I know why... heck I hired them... But is working at the Rocket Center that freakin' cool, is it the 25th smurfversary, or is working at AC that dang cool?

I was scared when I was shipped off to Greenland... I didn't know the difference between an F-14 and an F-16... But now I love it. Green looks better on me... I am THE red headed step child... I am excited to have all the wonderful people coming in next week... but is it just that dang cool or is it the 25th smurfversary?

And who exactly did we hire?
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Post by Boomerang »

I'd say thats a yes to both. ALso on my part i realised this was my last chance most likely to become a counselor so i figured what the heck i'll try. I've been a smiurf and i've been a leprechaun or whatever the current nickname for ACers is and loved both. AC was my favorite year till i went to ASA. I'm a bit nervour knowing more about space than miliatry aviation buti know enough that with what i learn in training i can do the job and do it well. Heck i've already been studying up on some of the aircraft on the aC campus since we have some of the same types in the museum where i currently work. I cant wait for this summer for the whole experiance.
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Post by Harmakis »

I am a true Blue smurf.... But at this time and place i dont think you can really have space camp with out AC... When i was at ASA we went to greenland for water survival... and AC'ers have to cross over to the blue side when its time to eat dont they???

I was actually on the ice skating around with a friend the other day and telling her about Space Camp and AC and the differenaces and all... and I told her that sure Smurfs might joke at the leprechauns, and visa versa... but the second anyone from outside tried to mess with one the other would back them up.

SO I might be blue, but I can not be Blue without green... so I would totally respect that.

but it is pretty dang tight to be be working at USSRC, especially with the 25th Anny... regardless I would not turn down an opportunity to work either sides. no matter what year it is...
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Post by CastAway »

Yep, I'm excited about working green this summer (took me a while to actually figure out what you people meant... haha). But as a camper, all I've ever done is blue!
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Post by Hotdog »

when the great Werner Von Braun first came up with the idea of an Alabama Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp, there was no mention of an Aviation Challenge or program like that. No discredit to the AC program, but speaking from a historical standpoint, AC is a biproduct of Space Camp and what is now the US Space & Rocket Center. So you might as well call Von Braun "Papa Smurf" lol. Don't get me wrong, i'm glad there is an AC and it has its place, but AC will always play second fiddle to Space Camp. Go Blue!
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Don't get me wrong...

Post by Red Bull »

Please don't miss understand what I am saying... I think it is a shame that Space Camp loses quility staff that want to work at Space Camp. I wish we could change that.

I we need to come up with a new system. Ideas?
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Post by Harmakis »

I think it is a fear thing.... for former Smurfs to get hired for Greenland there’s an air of uncertainty, we do not have a lot of knowledge of the planes, nor even how AC is ran, we know the stories that the Smurfs tell each other, but they can not be that reliable.

There is nothing that can be done about that side of it, you can not remove the fear of the unknown… Some smurfs will have the guts to say bring it on, while others will turn away. The ones that turn away do lose a HUGE opportunity, and the ones that take the plunge into the unknown are going to be much stronger for it. They will walk away with new knowledge, and new strengths.

How do you go about removing the fear from the candidates??? Good question…. Knowledge is power that’s for sure. Maybe if you have a Smurf who seems skittish of the idea of being a counselor at AC and not at SC, maybe email them an information package with a run down on all aspect of AC, and what makes AC such a great place to work at. Maybe if these smurfs can what exactly they are getting into they would be more willing to go for it, despite it not being SC/
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Post by Joker »

...or, horror of horrors, someone could acknowledge the big elephant in the room that no one talks about:

There are distinct cultures for the space and aviation programs -- and that's not a bad thing.

Those employed on the tactical level at SC and AC programs (and I use "SC" as a catchall for the "Space" programs) were not employed at the time of greatest cultural friction and strife amongst the staff.

Ten years ago, there was no fellowship between the two sides. It was a relationship of active indifference at best, and outright enmity at worst, punctuated by brief periods of actual violence.

HR and other recruiting types would recruit different campuses with different candidates in mind for the programs. If you had a military, ROTC, CAP or pilot training background, you were tracked for AC, hired directly for that program, and trained directly in that curriculum. Your relationship with Space Camp existed mainly so you'd know who the blue-clad counselors were in the chow hall, and because you had to do the same mass orientations together.

(Most of the friends I made the first summer I was an AC counselor, I made in the big "pee in this cup" line for mass drug testing.)

If you were in math, science, engineering, education, or a similar track, but without a military or tactical addition on your resume, you were tracked toward Space Camp, hired directly for the program, trained directly for the program, and had no real association with AC other than "these people wear military-style uniforms, and have really short hair, and probably scare the kids. How rude!"

Across the next couple of seasons, a handful of folks made friends and built bridges across the blue/green gulf. They were also threatened with unemployment, mass firings, and complete paranoia by the corporate masters to play nice with each other in the sandbox. That cut out most of the "intramural football injuries," but not all of them. ;) About this time, the Astrotrek concept came into vogue, and cast a huge shadow across counselor training and employment. By now, since Astrotrek trips happened at 2-3 day intervals, and during fall/spring times of low headcount for camps; they were short on warm bodies. AC and SC counselors began to cross-train in limited capacities -- AC folks could run the basic sims (MAT, 5DF, 1/6 Chair, etc.), and SC folks would bring Astrotrek groups down to try out the AC sims and do walking tours. This put everyone in everyone else's sandbox. Folks learned what the "other" side did all day, and if they didn't gain a new appreciation for it, they'd at least not come from a position of ignorance. If an AC counselor still didn't want to be a Space Camp counselor when they grew up (or vice versa), then their position came from knowledge and preference.

Though I must admit, once the SC counselors were exposed to the more physically demanding AC lifestyle and day-to-day experience, opinions were cemented -- they either wanted to jump sides, or were really grateful to be on the TCF. (And no, "I had to wear a sweatshirt in MOCR in July!" does not count as "physically demanding.")

Over a few seasons, relationships were built between the programs. Mutual support channels were created, established, and refined. Things simply worked. And it was due to having the right personalities in place at the right time -- in some places, this is called "management."

Of course, "management" being what it is, and in the interest of "efficiency," as I understand it, counselors were hired simply as "counselors" with no preference or leaning toward a particular program.

Just as has happened in military systems around the world, the "purple suit" phenomenon has, in my humble third-party outside opinion, hurt all involved. The cultures of both programs have been hobbled by the change. Does it save dimes over time? Meh. Doubtful -- though anyone at the Mothership can move the numbers around to show whatever outcome they want (don't laugh, I've seen it time and again -- how do you think the World's Biggest Model Rocket got built, despite study after study showing it wouldn't reap one red penny of revenue, no matter how they tarted it up?).

Staff hiring has to begin with the end in mind -- hire all-stars and potential all-stars for your staff, and make sure their backgrounds and goals track with the goals and direction of the program. For the Mach 1 counselors at AC, the hiring was skewed away from the military model and toward elementary education majors, for instance. But for Mach II and especially Mach III, counselors were hired with specific backgrounds for specific reasons. Since I'm nowhere near the tip of the spear any more, I can't tell you why counselors get hired, or not hired; or how they're tracked for programs.

The cross-training opportunities during initial counselor training were a boon for all involved -- I was a trainer in that initial class, and the benefits were reaped immediately. But it seems like that paradigm was stretched to an almost absurd level when program counselors simply became "Counselors." Time and again, history and experience have shown us that you don't have the time, budget, and resources to train new hires to be jacks-of-all-trades. It simply won't work. The AC counselors I knew who could have filled in for SC types in a pinch could do so because we were space geeks at heart -- we'd attended SC as kids, and been subject-matter dorks on the subject since before puberty.

You can't train that in two weeks, any more than you can effectively take someone who's all about rockets and astronomy and try to teach them to be remotely adequate instructors in a climbing two-circle fight.

The strengths of the programs are derived from their content, their academic focus, the "spoonful of sugar" fun level that masks all the math, and the culture of the programs themselves.

The latter factor is what made all the difference when I was a counselor, it was borne out by class evals and interviews with returning trainees, and for some reason it's been collectively throttled back by all involved in the name of some unattainable cost savings and emotional harmony that never could have existed in the first place.

It's the mentality of adventure, the warrior mentality (though some chafe at the name) that makes AC what it is; in the same way that Space Camp is the spirit of Von Braun, Robert Goddard, and anyone who ever looked up at the night sky and wanted to go up there.

To try to pull the same cloak over both programs is disingenuous to both, and saps them of their identity and limits their spirit irreparably.

Ruth, are they still doing "purple" training, or is there more of a return to culture in the programs?
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Re: Don't get me wrong...

Post by CastAway »

Red Bull wrote:Please don't miss understand what I am saying... I think it is a shame that Space Camp loses quility staff that want to work at Space Camp. I wish we could change that.

I we need to come up with a new system. Ideas?
Well, all I really know is if the opportunity somehow arose for me to jump ship over to SC, I would. I do feel like I'm "quality staff" for SC, but I accepted the AC job because I just love the facility so much, I'm willing to work at the lake because it's still a part of it. And I also think finally getting the AC experience will be good for me. I know from going back year by year that sometimes a counselor would switch sides between years, so as for suggestions for a new system, the only one I can think of would be to offer AC training to SC counselors and vice-versa during the training period, and maybe some would be interested in swapping to get the "ideal" group on each side.

Either way, I'm sure I'm going to love my summer working at AC.
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Post by des »

When I went to AC, most of the counselors were right back from Desert Storm (Kuwait war), and most had flown jets. Probably some flew supply planes for all I knew. (I think this was the second or third year of AC).


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Post by Boomerang »

Well obviously i have no active duty military experiance but it wasnt for lack of wanting to unfortunately it was because i was physicly disqualified. I always wanted my path to what i hoped to be a job in the astronaut corps to be through the pilot route. The closest i came was JROTC in high school. I also have alot of outdoor experiance from scouting over the years and though my knowledge of miliary aviation isnt as great as space i think i have enough to do a good job as an Ac counselor. So though yes military personel may have always been preferred in the past i think people who have a genuine intrest and know;edge of the subject can do as equally good a job. I was happy to take a position with either program equally. The main reaso i wuld have preferred SC over AC was i think my physical limitations would have been less incumbering therebut we shall see how it goes. only 3 more days to go till it all starts.
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Post by Harmakis »

Joker wrote:You can't train that in two weeks, any more than you can effectively take someone who's all about rockets and astronomy and try to teach them to be remotely adequate instructors in a climbing two-circle fight.
Welll I would disagree just because some one is passionante and focused on Space and Astronomy does not mean that they can not be trained to know the inner workings of planes and aviation.

Sure one might be in school for space and astronomy... but To say they can not handel the training of AC and be unable to grasp the material in just a few weeks, thats just harsh....

If the smurf is willing to learn then that means they are open to learning about aviation and being a part of the AC world.
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Post by iheartspacecamp »

Harmakis wrote:
Joker wrote:You can't train that in two weeks, any more than you can effectively take someone who's all about rockets and astronomy and try to teach them to be remotely adequate instructors in a climbing two-circle fight.
Welll I would disagree just because some one is passionante and focused on Space and Astronomy does not mean that they can not be trained to know the inner workings of planes and aviation.

Sure one might be in school for space and astronomy... but To say they can not handel the training of AC and be unable to grasp the material in just a few weeks, thats just harsh....

If the smurf is willing to learn then that means they are open to learning about aviation and being a part of the AC world.
i dont know if that was meant to sound harsh... 2 weeks to cram all that new info in and be knowledgeable and stuff is a shot amount of time!
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Post by CastAway »

Yeah, it really is a short time! I'm sure I can do it, but it sure makes me paranoid, too!
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Re: Smurfs Gone Green

Post by jagsvolleyball14 »

Red Bull wrote:I was scared when I was shipped off to Greenland... I didn't know the difference between an F-14 and an F-16...


oooo Red Bull... i too didnt kno the diff between a f14 and f16 but now i most def know wat an f16 is ....i got really upclose and personal with it! ;)


haha hope all is well and keep us updated with all happenings at AC.... esp. us christmas greenies!!!!
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Post by gt0163c »

Harmakis wrote:
Joker wrote:You can't train that in two weeks, any more than you can effectively take someone who's all about rockets and astronomy and try to teach them to be remotely adequate instructors in a climbing two-circle fight.
Welll I would disagree just because some one is passionante and focused on Space and Astronomy does not mean that they can not be trained to know the inner workings of planes and aviation.

Sure one might be in school for space and astronomy... but To say they can not handel the training of AC and be unable to grasp the material in just a few weeks, thats just harsh....

If the smurf is willing to learn then that means they are open to learning about aviation and being a part of the AC world.
Before I begin, let me state that I've never been to AC. I did SC three times as a kid (~15 years ago being the last time, although I'm going back for the adult program this fall). But, I've worked in military aviation for the past 8 years including working three flight test programs, having close daily contact with test pilots from five different services and two different companies (US Air Force, Navy and Marines, British Royal Navy and Marines and Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems...if anyone really wants to keep track). So, I've got an idea about the different cultures of military pilots as well as science and engineering geeks.

I'm not certain that I entirely agree with the above comment. While I think that anyone who is capable of succeeding at SC could succeed as an AC counselor, I think there is a big difference in attitude. The culture of the military and especially of military pilots is just different than that of science and engineering geeks. There's more competition, more...bravado's not quite the right word, but it's close. I believe the word "warrior" was used previously in this thread to talk about the military aviation culture. And I think that's a good word. There's more to prove physically and emotionally.
Not saying that science and engineering geeks aren't tough. They can be. But there's a difference in the attitude. There's less loyalty in the geek culture (not that there's not some, but the level is just different). I think the difference comes from having to trust people with your life in the military vs going home to your family and your outside life in the civilian world. It's just different.

And I can see where the blending of the staff of the two programs could lead to the erosion of the distinction between the two cultures. Not saying that one is better than the other (I admire the warriors, but I'm a squint at heart). They're just different. And I think that part of the uniqueness of the SC and AC programs is that not only are trainees immersed in the activities during their times as part of the programs, but they are immersed in the cultures of the individual programs. And if those separate cultures are lost or at least decreased in intensity, I think that it would be harmful to both programs.
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Post by Sandrat »

I wanted to come up with a neat response, but Joker has said everything I wanted to say. The warrior ethos is what made (and I hope still makes) AC what it is. There are plenty of people who could do either job, but if you're trained to do either job, you do neither very well.

Go back to program specific counselors and maximize the training efforts. AC counselors should talk endlessly about the aforementioned two circle dogfights and not whether they have to cover in Atlantis MOCR. And vice versa.
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Post by Joker »

Harmakis wrote:Welll I would disagree just because some one is passionante and focused on Space and Astronomy does not mean that they can not be trained to know the inner workings of planes and aviation.

Sure one might be in school for space and astronomy... but To say they can not handel the training of AC and be unable to grasp the material in just a few weeks, thats just harsh....

If the smurf is willing to learn then that means they are open to learning about aviation and being a part of the AC world.
It's not harsh if you've seen the result. It's a different environment. You can be willing to learn, that's fantastic -- but I've seen way too many people try to bend the program to fit their wants, rather than adapting themselves to fit the program.

If you're focused on space and astronomy, you're of more utility in a space-oriented program. Period. It's a more effective use of your experience, expertise, and interest -- for you and management. To decide to toss that aside so that you could "go green" for kicks is a fairly short-sighted play that has more risk than reward for the program.

(This is the opinion of someone who manages projects and leads people for a living -- I'm a lot more focused on accomplishing my missions first; helping someone else fulfill Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is much, much lower down my list of priorities.)

I never said someone couldn't be taught, I just said it wouldn't be as effective. All else fails, reread the original post for what it says, not what you want to hear.

Some folks thrive in a high-pressure training environment, some don't. During our counselor training, there was hands-on testing, written testing, and objective evaluation of each lecture and after-action review.

WIWAC (When I Was A Counselor), if you couldn't learn it, teach it, train it, and debrief it, you weren't given the opportunity to have teams. Period.

Because trainees usually don't get a second chance at camp -- it was our responsibility to get it absolutely right the first time. It was our duty. And we took that duty seriously -- and if it hurt a coworker's feelings to not have teams, so be it. Counselors could always retest later, and attempt to certify. If they could clear the bar with personal training and attention, they'd get teams. But if they couldn't crack the code on it, they were either assigned support duties or released completely.
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Post by Sandrat »

There were plenty of counselors that worked mostly sim support or other support throughout their summers for those reasons. Attrition should be a natural part of the training process. Watering down training so that everyone can "get it" is not training for success.

Believe me, regardless of the program those trainees that are sharp enough (and a majority of them are) will see through a counselor who doesn't "get it."

And, in the spirit of getting it, you can refer to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_of_needs
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Post by CastAway »

If you're focused on space and astronomy, you're of more utility in a space-oriented program. Period. It's a more effective use of your experience, expertise, and interest -- for you and management. To decide to toss that aside so that you could "go green" for kicks is a fairly short-sighted play that has more risk than reward for the program.
I assume many of them actually have a genuine interest in working at AC. I've heard rumors that there are a decent few SC folks who had wanted to transfer down to AC this summer and were not given the opportunity to train and are therefore disappointed with us new guys. Though a "swap" of sorts could have occured for those of us who applied to work SC and accepted AC anyway because we love the place so much, I guess they chose not to, but I do believe any of those people who wanted to transfer could have acquired the AC skills just as easily as I can.

Anyway, I'm happy nonetheless. Turns out, AC is really cool! I'm really enjoying all the facts I'm learning, especially the science. And the survival is really, really cool too.
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