Boy Scouts launch first Space Jam

  • Mary Lardizabal / Special to The Garden Island

    Some of the first Space Camp Kauai participants show off projects created at the camp held in Puhi.

LIHUE — A young person from this island could be the first person to set foot on Mars, if they are prepared, said Denny Anderson, the Aloha Council Boy Scouts of America Kauai district executive.

The Boy Scouts and the Aloha Council are helping provide that small step for these young explorers by hosting the first-ever Space Jam Kauai camping experience in Puhi.

“During the weekend of July 4, Scouts earned the Space Exploration and Robotics merit badges,” Anderson said. “They also started the Astronomy badge among other camp activities, including the just-for-fun Duck Tape merit badge.”

Anderson said the Space Jam Kauai experience was meant to allow Scouts who were unable to participate in the annual Summer Camp at Camp Alan Faye in Kokee State Park a camping experience. It also an offshoot of what is now the Space Jam 13, based in Illinois, that is an annual merit badge clinic attended by a thousand Scouts and scouters who gather in August to work on 50 major activities. The national Boy Scouting program offers about 140 merit badges, with most of the latest badges involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM).

“Scouting will always offer basic pioneer skills like camping and fire-making,” Anderson said. “But the pioneers today are on the International Space Station. The astronauts of tomorrow will need digital technology, 3D programming, robotics and astro-geology.”

Anderson said all of this is available in the merit badge program.

“Our colonists on Mars will need to be familiar with lava-tub characteristics in order to protect themselves from gamma rays,” Anderson said.

“Some estimates say that human exploration of Mars could start in the late ‘20s. This is no longer science fiction. This is planning ahead. It’s one of the missions of Scouting, to prepare young boys and girls for their future by providing them with the skills, experience and education they need.”

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