Out-of-this-world experience awaits Waterloo Region youth in astronaut camp

A handful of kids in Waterloo Region are among only 52 from across the country selected to participate in the Canadian Space Agency's Junior Astronaut Camp in July.

"I found out I'd be able to meet experts and all that and I want to be an engineer in the future," said Kitchener's Katelyn Xayavong, 14, who was accepted into the camp. "I was really surprised, I really didn't think I'd get chosen so I got really excited and I thought it was super cool."

The children were randomly selected to participate in the week-long camp through video submissions.

Campers will get a chance to learn about space missions, meet an astronaut and even drive a rover on a simulated moon mission.

"We are getting them as much as possible to do hands-on activities," said Canadian Space Agency engineer Jamie Sevigny.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the out-of-this-world experience won't just take place on earth, but in participants’ own homes.

"It's virtual, which makes it a little more challenging but we've got some really, really neat activities lined up for them," Sevigny said.

Normally, the camp would be held at the Space Centre in Quebec.

Activities for the campers are aimed at teaching youth about what it takes to become an astronaut and help inspire future career paths.

"We're looking at science and technology, we're looking at fitness and nutrition, and there's, of course, a third element too that’s communications and teamwork," Sevigny said. "When you keep studying in STEM, science, technology, engineering and math, you do have a lot of doors open for you."