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Two dozen children of deployed parents are participating this week in a space venture that is part of the Camp A.R.M.Y. Challenge series hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe. On the first day of Space Camp, Brianna Newby (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Newby, of Ansbach, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before stepping up to the launch pad herself.

Two dozen children of deployed parents are participating this week in a space venture that is part of the Camp A.R.M.Y. Challenge series hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe. On the first day of Space Camp, Brianna Newby (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Newby, of Ansbach, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before stepping up to the launch pad herself. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

Two dozen children of deployed parents are participating this week in a space venture that is part of the Camp A.R.M.Y. Challenge series hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe. On the first day of Space Camp, Brianna Newby (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Newby, of Ansbach, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before stepping up to the launch pad herself.

Two dozen children of deployed parents are participating this week in a space venture that is part of the Camp A.R.M.Y. Challenge series hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe. On the first day of Space Camp, Brianna Newby (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Newby, of Ansbach, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before stepping up to the launch pad herself. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

On the first day of Space Camp, Max Warburg (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Warburg, of Stuttgart, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before getting his chance to launch.

On the first day of Space Camp, Max Warburg (pictured) and other students built and launched their own water rockets. Warburg, of Stuttgart, Germany, watches a rocket take flight before getting his chance to launch. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

TRANSINNE, Belgium — Being deployed to a faraway land such as Afghanistan or Iraq or Djibouti can seem like an otherworldly experience at times.

This week, two dozen teens set their sights on space as part of an Army initiative to help children of deployed U.S. servicemembers keep their feet on the ground. Brave as their parents may be, it takes courage to soldier on when mom or dad are in harm’s way.

"They are not going to be flying the space shuttle when they leave here," Joe Marton said of Space Camp.

Marton runs the overarching initiative, known as Camp ARMY Challenge.

"They will have a better understanding of what is going on above their head."

And, it is hoped, greater insight into what is happening between the ears.

After nearly seven years of war and deployment, the military, particularly the Army and Marine Corps, knows kids are shouldering a heavy load.

"Most kids in the States can’t do something like this," said 15-year-old Mallory Harder of Wiesbaden, Germany.

Mallory was talking about Space Camp, but she just as easily could have meant the trials and tribulations military children face when a parent heads off to a war zone. The fact that she and others have the opportunity to cast those concerns aside for a spell is the thrust of the program.

On Monday, the first full day of Space Camp, the focus was on the cosmos, not combat. The camp is the last of three offered this summer by Installation Management Command-Europe. The other two involved an island adventure and sports and fitness.

The Space Camp, which is new this year, is being held at Euro Space Center in southeastern Belgium, not far from Bastogne. It concludes Friday.

Activities, all geared toward space and space exploration, touch upon rocketry and the study of gravity. Capping off the week will be a simulated mission involving a control room and a rough mock-up of a space shuttle.

"I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but it’s OK. It’s interesting," said Max Warburg of Stuttgart, Germany.

Some space-minded cadets couldn’t wait for the program to begin.

"I want to go floating in space," said Brianna Newby, 15, of Ansbach, Germany.

Other attendees, such as Jamie Faircloth of Wiesbaden, said it was a parent who first floated the idea. She climbed wholeheartedly aboard when she learned the camp was in Belgium.

Firing off water rockets or having the chance to experience zero gravity in a water tank or spinning around in a gyroscopic thingamabob or taking part in a simulated space shuttle mission can be intoxicating stuff.

"It’s cool," said Mollie Macklin of Ansbach, "because you normally never get a chance to do something like this. It’s rare."


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