Maya Butcher ready to blast off (virtually) at Junior Astronaut Camp

Maya Butcher of Wellington is going to Junior Astronaut Camp. She told us all about it during a socially distanced interview at Laurie Park. (Healey photo)

WELLINGTON: A young Wellington girl is going to have an experience out of this world after being one of 52 winners selected for the Canadian Space Agency’s Junior Astronaut campaign.

Maya Butcher, a Grade 7 student at Georges P. Vanier Junior High, is among several Nova Scotian youth who were selected to virtually join astronauts, engineers, and scientists from the CSA for an exciting week of space training. The camp, which was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 and is usually held in-person in Quebec, will be held virtually July 26-30.

The Junior Astronauts campaign was designed for Canadian youth in grades 6 to 9 and their educators. Young Canadians interested in winning a spot in the Junior Astronaut Camp had to complete at least one activity in each of the campaign’s three streams (science and technology, fitness and nutrition, and teamwork and communication), which represent the types of knowledge and skills needed by astronauts.

The youth also had to record a video explaining why they should be picked as a junior astronaut.

Young space enthusiasts from across Canada were randomly selected from the pool of eligible candidates to attend the camp.

During a socially-distanced interview on a sunny day at Laurie Park in Grand Lake, Butcher told The Laker News she’s looking forward to the camp.

“It’s very cool,” said Maya. “I really honestly didn’t expect to get it because I’m one of the youngest participants.”

Young space enthusiast like Butcher, who lives in Wellington with her family, will be challenged through a series of fun and engaging activities. They will operate a real rover during a simulated Moon mission, solve Earth problems using satellite imagery, work out with astronauts and space fitness experts, and much more.

The camp offers a unique chance for the youth to learn about space careers as well as how they can play a role in Canada’s future in space.

Butcher said her family heard about it and started a program like it at Holland Road School. She told a bunch of other kids.

She said the application was started in Grade 6 (last year), but she couldn’t go because of COVID.

“We heard in early March that I got accepted for this year,” she said.

Maya said it is disappointing that it has to be done virtually, but she understands. The schedule has also been sent out

“One of the activities on the schedule is simulation of piloting the Rover,” said Maya. ‘We also get to talk to astronauts and ask them questions.”

She knows what she wants to takeaway the most from the experience.

“I hope to take away more knowledge on how the Canadian Space Agency works,” said Maya.