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Issue 9-10

Space Camp

“Did you ever want to go to Space Camp when you were a kid?” This question was asked by the cashier, a young man in his early twenties, as I was standing at the checkout counter at Trader Joe’s, a food chain dedicated to healthy eating.

Space Camp!—what’s Space Camp? I wondered. After all, when I was a kid, the United States hadn’t even gone to the moon. “You obviously wanted to go to space camp when you were a kid,” I said, a little nonplused by his check-out line non sequitur that was focing me to search for an intelligent reply. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied, bagging my groceries (into my Global Bag Project reusable shopping bag). There was dreamy longing in his eyes.

“Can adults go to Space Camp?” I tried to be encouraging, “Because if you really wanted to go that much when you were a kid, you need to find a way to go now if you can.” As far as I am concerned, having parented four kids of my own, various live-ins, one son-in-law, and now eight grandchildren, those longings are important clues for us working in the unpaid human development sectors of society. Heads up! Attention needs to be given.

“They probably tell staff to think of five or six questions in order to engage their customers,” my daughter Melissa suggested as we were laughing about this encounter together—some sort of corporate personability campaign. Melissa worked her way through the University of Miami in Ohio as a hostess at Bennigan’s and knows all there is to know about personability campaigns.

Still, this question has been intriguing me—“Did you ever want to go to Space Camp when you were a kid?” A Google search reveals that Space Camp is sponsored by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. It is an educational effort for children using the United Sates space program as the basis for exciting them about math and science. According to tradition, Dr. Wernher von Braun was touring the Center in 1977 and noticed children studying rockets. “We have band camps, football and cheerleading camps,” he proposed. “Why don’t we have a space camp?”

When Space Camp was founded in 1982, I was 39 years of age—way beyond the intended age for campers, but I admit that reading the curriculum for a 6-day program excites some longings of my own. “Want to know what it’s like to train like an astronaut?” asks the on-line brochure. Learning opportunities for 9-11 year olds include:

  • Lifting off at 4 G’s to experience weightlessness on the Space Shot™ simulator.
  • Learning the real Moon Walk using the 1/6 Gravity Chair simulator.
  • Tumbling and spinning in the Multi-Axis Trainer just like the Mercury Astronauts.
  • Lifting off in one of Space Camp’s Shuttle Simulators, or commanding everything from the Mission Control Center.

Campers (trainees) can choose one of three tracks: A “Space Track” in which kids go through extensive Mars training, or an “Aviation Track” where kids learn flight wilderness survival techniques, or a “Robotics Track” where they get to rescue astronauts from the International Space Station.

OK. I’m ready to sign up. I notice there are parent-and-child-bonding Space Camps. (Certainly this includes grandparent-and-grandchildren-bonding camps.) A Space Academy is offered for ages 12-14. And, an Advanced Space Academy is designed for young adults aged 15-18 years. Do you see the longing growing in my eyes?

It occurs to me that church is a kind of Space Camp, an Advanced Space Academy that should be readying us for our universal habitation, heaven. Spiritual conversion and the resultant discipleship in following Christ are a kind of introduction to learning to live the heavenly way on earth. (Jesus described this as the Kingdom-of-Heaven-way.)

Church should model to us how to pass through this earthly sojourn with a kind of weightlessness, knowing we will arrive at our eventual destination unencumbered by the burdens of materiality. Kingdom living now should prepare us to walk as those in heaven are walking, should train us how to endure the worst of life’s tumbles and spins and how to emerge as victorious survivors. Kingdom living should inculcate in us the dream of what will be, give us a hunger to dig into the mysteries of deeper realities, and fill us with a lasting yearning that allows us to interrupt the most mundane of activities (bagging groceries at the check-out counter) with the question, “Did you ever want to go to Space Camp when you were a kid?”

Do you ever have moments listening to the news when this overwhelming longing for heaven, for the ideal world without pain, sorrow, affliction, or evil suddenly floods your heart?

Do you ever wonder what it must be like to live in a place solely dedicated to walking the King’s way and obeying and benefiting from the King’s rule?

Are you excited about gathering with God’s people on the weekend because your presence together exponentially increases the spiritual viewing capabilities of the whole? (Yes, there is another world; there is a better way.)

Sadly, David and I are aware (partly because of our own unfulfilled “space” explorations) that many Christians can’t find an earthly “camp” that really prepares them for heavenly living. Our churches, our lives as Christians together, seem to be so bogged down in the mundane, the unexciting, the meaningless, the world-infused, the human-preoccupied, the politically-motivated that we can’t seem to evoke longing any more in the hearts of the Kingdom campers. For too many, nothing “magical” happens any more on Sunday mornings. There is no Spirit present convicting us that we are not really walking the moon walk, nor are we any longer grieved that we have forgotten to turn our face to the stars.

For too many, church Space Camp is not what it is cracked up to be. It is not even a pale imitation, no longer even a creaky simulation, of living in Kingdom time, modeling for all those who care to see what Kingdom living is like, now, in the eternities.

“Did you ever want to go to Space Camp when you were a kid?”

I am looking at my life and remembering all those times when the longing for heavenly space was most alive in me—the longing for a better place, a holier way of knowing, a being in step with the other world while living still in this one. And, I am grieving that Space Camp is closing in many places due to disinterest, a lack of attendees and economic shortfalls.

Revive in me, O Lord, a hunger for Space Camp again, like when I was a little kid chasing after lightening bugs—where have they all gone? There seem to have been so many more when I was small—on all those warm summers’ evenings that seemed to have no end.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is
destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal
house in the heaven, not built by human hands.
meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our
heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be
swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us
for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a
deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

“Space Camp” description from
2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Karen Mains


Annual 2010 24-Hour Advent Retreat of Silence for Women

Registration is open for our Hungry Souls Advent Retreat, Wednesday-Thursday, December 1-2. The cost for the days, including a private room with bath and three meals is $120. If you register by October 1st, the early registration fee is $100. If you bring a friend who has never attended, the fee will be $90 for your friend and for yourself. You can begin early registration by e-mailing Susan Hands at

Tiffany Staman of Breathing Space, a retreat ministry, will be leading the Advent Retreat with Sibyl Towner. Tiffany will be heading up the Advent Retreat Ministry for this year and will be encouraging retreatants who have experienced her day events to attend. We had 66 attendees last year in two back-to-back retreats. We have room in one retreat for 55 attendees. This coordinated effort between Hungry Souls and Breathing Space could mean that the registrations will fill faster, so we would encourage you to register as soon as you can. Checks for early registration may be made payable to Hungry Souls and mailed to P.O. Box 30, Wheaton, Il 60187.

There is nothing that prepares your heart, mind and soul for the holiday season like a time of intentional spiritual silence.

Life Story Mapping Workshop/Retreat

Listen to My Life is a journey that helps you invite God into the process of reviewing your past, assessing your present and continue walking with God into your future.

This experience is for you if:

  • you want to discover who you are through God’s eyes.
  • you are seeking new, grace-filled ways to walk with God.
  • you have thought, “I don’t know myself anymore.”
  • you wonder, “is there something more?”
  • you stand at a crossroads in life and ask, “Which way will lead me toward expressing more of who I am made to be?”
  • you are looking for a way to understand the restlessness you feel inside.

Experience all the visual maps in the Listen to My Life workbook with the authors, Sibyl Towner, Sharon Swing, and Rebecca Madden in a two-part workshop/retreat in Rockford, IL September 19-20 and November 6-7. Come to part one to get started, or part one and part two to complete the process. Click here for more details.




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Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"I am looking at my life and remembering all those times when the longing for heavenly space was most alive in me—the longing for a better place, a holier way of knowing, a being in step with the other world while living still in this one. And, I am grieving that Space Camp is closing in many places due to disinterest,
a lack of attendees and economic shortfalls."


Little Bee by Chris Cleve

Little Bee
By Chris Cleave


Karen says:

A friend said to me, as she was heading out of the country, “I haven’t had time to read this book, but everyone is talking about it. Maybe you want to read it before I do.”

So I took Little Bee, a novel by Chris Cleave down to North Carolina with me, where my sister, Valerie Bell, and I spent two days sorting through family archival material that had been stored in three big plastic bins, waiting for that proverbial rainy day.

This book, published by Simon and Schuster, is about the lives of two women that collide. One is a Britisher from London and the other is an illegal immigrant from Nigeria. This is not an easy read, but as the two cultures bang into each other, then intertwine, it is an amazingly beautiful study of people from different worlds whose lives have been intertwined by a horrific choice.

The back cover copy warns: “Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends abut it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.”

This is an unsettling novel that is made both heartrending and heartening by the growing moral consciousness of these two women.

People Magazine gave this four stars and named it as a “People Choice” pick.


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