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Monday, June 26, 2017
It's a long-standing tradition in our family that we go to space every chance we get.
When the Christa McAuliffe Center was operating at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove, we went as a family and we dragged along our business associates...colleagues from the Daily Herald, The Deseret News and later on, Marc took his buddies from Xactware when it moved out to the Manila Church as the Space Discovery Center.
While the locations have changed around and the opportunities are less frequent, we've persisted.
There's something magical and addictive about role-playing on the earth-bound ships.
We like flying in pretend space and figuring out how to defeat enemies. We enjoy learning how to keep a virtual ship fueled, repaired and shielded.
(Of course, along the way we've had our share of defeats. One time, we were all playing dead so the enemy faction would go on its way. It was going fine until the phone rang and one of our crew members picked it up . "Ah, ha! You are alive but now you're dead!" said the alien who then proceeded to blow us up.)
(Another time, the aliens were unimpressed with our tactics and our decisions so we died.)
It's always an adventure trying to work together as a crew and make good choices under duress.
This last time, we went to the new Farpoint Academy at the Renaissance Academy in Lehi. That's where Victor Williamson, the guy who originated the whole idea, is currently building a program.
He had a brand-new facility with high-speed computers and graphics on the screens.
The missions are run by guys who take the whole thing quite seriously.
They explain the mission, the goals and the risks.
Then we take off in the USS Voyager, armed with information, fake torpedoes and a couple of plastic photon blasters.
It's always interesting to watch the grandkids (and the grown-ups) we take along get into the action.
At first, everyone is kind of kidding around, making jokes and acting as if it's nothing serious.
Then it starts to get real.
There are tasks to perform and work to do. Scrub those CO2 scrubbers. Plot a course through the asteroid belt.
Then an alien ship appears and we're in a battle.
Smoke fills the bridge. Alarms sing.
An intruder comes in who must be subdued.
The captain has to make some hard choices.
Crew members find their simple tasks matter.
By the time the mission is finished, everyone is involved and a little stressed out.
A couple of the teenagers on this latest flight went right home and went to bed. They couldn't talk about it until the next morning.
Now they want to know when we're going again.