AC Mach III First Timer

Going to camp soon? Have questions about camp? Post them here for those that have gone to answer.

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carton
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AC Mach III First Timer

Postby carton » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:42 pm

Hey all!

I'm a Space Camp veteran, both Academy and Camp (stayed behind in Academy an extra year because I got too spooked to go to Advanced- whoops) but I've never crossed over to AC. I've wanted to go to AC for several years now, and I decided now that I'm old enough for Mach III that I should just suck it up and go.
I have some serious imposter's syndrome going on (the feeling that everyone else has got their life together and you're not really good enough to hang with them, and that you're faking) and so that's kept me from going.

I guess what I'm getting at is I need a good packing list, rundown of the week, some heads up on things to watch out for, and someone to allay my fears.
I've read Spyder and Granite's lists and I have some questions https://habforum.hab1.com/viewtopic.php?t=1665.

    The boots for patrolling- Are combat boots okay? What will everyone else be wearing (specifically girls, as myself)? Are there specific boots I need??
    Long pants for patrolling- Are skinny jeans acceptable or do I need something baggier and more conservative like the mock BDUs they sell in the big gift shop?
    Seal OPS extra shoelaces- Is this only for the 2 week AAC?
    Tank tops and gym shorts for under flight suit- No problem with wearing/buying a flight suit, in fact I think the AC squadrons look pretty sharp walking around, but will I have to buy one at camp? If so, will I be wearing this ALL DAY EVERY DAY?
    BDUs- I don't own any BDUs. I've seen kids in CAP uniforms before, so I'm unsure if it's BYO-BDU or if you have to buy it at camp like I'm assuming you buy a flight suit.

Also, as an anxiety-ridden teenager, I gotta know: WHAT ARE THE PEOPLE LIKE? Are there other girls? Is everyone hardcore "I'm-shipping-off-to-the-corps-as-soon-as-I-turn-18-OORAH!", or are people more chill- y'now what kind of kids am I gonna be with all week?

I look forward to seeing responses and I'm sorry for all the questions! Y'all seem so much more approachable on this forum rather than like the time I saluted to a Mach III kid when I was in 5th grade and he stood at attention and screamed, red-faced, "IF YOU'RE GOING TO SALUTE, SALUTE CORRECTLY!"

Thanks, guys-
--carton

Edit: Thank y'all so much! I'm already excited about going!! Can't wait to come back and be able to help some other newbies!
Last edited by carton on Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AC Mach III First Timer

Postby SpaceCanada » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:33 am

Welcome to Hab1!

One of the greatest lessons in life is: come as you are and be yourself; and be proud of it - and that applies to Space Camp and AC too!

I haven't been to AC, not as a kid in a full programme anyway. (Now I wish I did, as they have since done away with adult AC camps, and I have since had an experience that prevents me from going back to AC.) However, based on my limited understanding, this is just a camp, not a military academy, and meant to be fun. Some kids will take it more seriously than others, much like you probably experienced at Space Camp and Academy. Some kids will have full on combat boots and military clothing but it isn't necessary.

Again, based on my limited experience and observations, this is my advice. Someone with more experience (like Jason, LB206) can chime in with more details or correct me if I am wrong.

Boots - the packing list says an extra pair of shoes, like running shoes - something that ties tightly to your foot and has good grippy treads on the bottom, would be sufficient. Combats boots would be great, if you have them already AND worn them in properly so they don't hurt your feet. Be prepared for whatever footwear you bring to get dirty and muddy. Hiking boots would probably suffice too, though your average running shoes are perfectly acceptable.

Long pants - you just need something to cover you. Skinny jeans should be fine so long as you have full range of motion to crawl, squat, climb, and otherwise overcome obstacles in the woods. Some skinny jeans have that flexibility but some don't. You need to be free to move! Cargo pockets are nice to have too... So whilst something more relaxed with pockets may be better, skinny jeans technically would work... But I wouldn't recommend them for the E&E exercise. For every other day of camp they would be fine. I have seen photos of girls in skinny jeans at AC over the summer. However, one pair of long pants with cargo pockets would be ideal - check a local thrift store or camping outfitter store for some. (Camp used to have some they loaned out to campers if I recall, but I haven't seen them in a while - anyone have an update on that?)

I don't know which exercises are done at which camp. It never hurts to have extra shoelaces, pencils, and duct tape regardless... They have a hundred and one uses.

They give you a flight suit to borrow for camp, much like at Space Camp. How often you wear it is up to you, though your counsellors will tell you when it is absolutely required. You don't have to buy your own unless you want to take one home and wear it there. Just like at Space Camp. Most days, shorts and t-shirts are the norm.

Like I said above, military gear is optional and whilst some people will have it, it doesn't impact your experience much either way. Sure, it is cool to have that stuff at AC, much like it is to have NASA and space-themed t-shirts at Space Camp, but it isn't required. The pants with cargo pockets will come in handy though - see above.

As for the mentality of other kids, much like the camps you have been to before, it can vary from group to group and week to week. I would expect most people in attendance to have an interest in the military and flight, many wanting to become pilots, but not all. Some people will be super serious, possibly enrolled in military programmes at home, but not all, and some could very well know little about flight or military and that is why they are there: to learn more! (And there could be some kids with poor attitudes, or total jerks like that experience you had in 5the grade, but hopefully not.) Counsellors should make everyone feel welcome and part of the team regardless. (With some military-based flare of course...) You will learn drill and military skills together - they don't expect you to know it all beforehand, though you should come to camp already knowing how to make your bed, stand straight, and listen with respect... And yes, there are often other girls in the programme. I saw a team photo recently with more girls than boys!

I hope you have a super fun time, learn a lot, and make new friends. Be confident in who you are, bring everything on the CAMP-ISSUED packing list, come to camp with a positive and friendly attitude, and you will be set to have a good time. And don't take offence if you are called a smurf a few times... It was slang for the Space Camp kids when I was a kid and I suspect the term still lives on. We called the AC kids leprechauns, so it was two-way fun.

Come back here and let us know how camp was! I haven't heard much about AC recently and would love to get a full report of the current programme.
- Jennifer -
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Re: AC Mach III First Timer

Postby p51 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:25 pm

I've never seen to AC other than flying the F-14 and F-18 sims from Space Camp, but as a former Army Captain and having spent a lot of time in the field in various conditions (most of them considered unacceptable to human habitation), I'd recommend the following based on my experiences in high-humidity environments:
BDU pants with a woodland or digital pattern that works for a wooded environment (Multicam, Canadian or Navy/USMC patterns work well). Any good surplus place could get you a couple of pairs of pants that are likely affordable). Yes, it's hot as blazes in Huntsville and shorts are cooler, but you really want to protect your legs if you're walking into the field.
Good broken-in hiking boots with a good grip sole, in a darker earth tone color. It's vital they feel good on your feet before you go. I once had to break in a new pair of boots on a land navigation exercise and my feet felt like they'd been put into a blender by the time I'd broken them in. Avoid sneakers in the field as they can often come off at the wrong times, and they rarely blend into the background.
Moisture-wicking t-shirts in OD green or tan colors. Nothing makes you more miserable than working in a t-shirt that's soaking wet with sweat for long periods of time.
A camo scarf, or cloth that can cover your face (but breathe through it) if you're doing you E&E stuff. Few things can more easily be spotted in the woods than am uncovered human face.
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Re: AC Mach III First Timer

Postby SpaceCanada » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:01 pm

The camp packing list (I found it today) says that AC participants will be issued a BDU jacket to wear for the duration of camp. They also list two pairs of long pants or trousers (they recommend khakis). Now, I'm not sure I agree with the khakis statement since those are typically considered fairly nice trousers here, unless khakis mean something else in America, because you wouldn't want to ruin nice trousers... think wilderness camping attire for those trousers.

These are what I like to wear camping, and what I think might be good at AC or otherwise playing and getting mucky in the woods:
https://www.rei.com/product/861085/rei- ... ants-girls

Also, anything cotton gets wet and stays wet, so I wouldn't recommend jeans for that reason alone.

One other thing - camouflage. You will want to bring some camouflage type coloured clothing (browns, greens, tans, dark grey) for some activities. Wearing a bright neon orange t-shirt in the forest during E&E is a sure way to get caught.
- Jennifer -
Youth ASA 6-Day 1998 1999
Adult ASA 8-Day 2004; Alumni 2007, CSC 2013, 2015, 2017

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