Sunday, January 17, 2021
During both Space Camps, cadets will get to build and launch rockets. Contributed photos.Cadets will visit the Sparta Airport to interact with pilots and learn about airplanes.Throughout the week, the kids will get the chance to partake in hands-on STEM experiments, coding sessions and robotics training.

Registration now open for Deke Slayton Space Camps

Once again, staff at the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum in Sparta are gearing up for this summer’s 4th annual Deke Slayton Space Camp.

Space Camp, which is for kids from fifth to eighth grade, will start on July 29 and wrap up on August 2 with a total of 20 spots available. During the week-long camp, students will get to hear from experts at NASA, view presentations by science professionals at the top of their fields and meet retired Wisconsin astronaut Mark Lee.

Camp also includes hands-on STEM activities, team building, which is important for astronauts, leadership experiences, robotics training and rocket building.

The kids will also visit the Sparta airport, conduct zero gravity experiments at the Sparta pool, and see a program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse Planetarium.

At the end of the week, cadets partake in a special graduation ceremony and dinner for them and their families on that Friday evening.

New this year will be Junior Space Camp for kids going into third and fourth grade.

“This will be our fourth year with the space camp program and we’ve had really good success for the last three years so we talked about possibly expanding the camp or doing something more and we came up with the idea to do a junior camp,” Executive Director Alli Karrels said. “We formed a committee and met with some of the local elementary school teachers and got some ideas about different types of programming we were going to do.”

The half-day camp will consist of 24 cadets and run from June 24 to 28 during the afternoons. Camp students will have fun learning all about Sparta’s hometown astronaut Deke Slayton.

At Junior Space Camp, the kids will get to complete science experiments, work together in teams, participate in hands-on STEM activities and coding sessions, complete a variety of craft projects, visit the planetarium in La Crosse, talk with pilots and learn about airplanes, build and launch rockets and so much more.

“Rockets are always a big plus. It’s a wonderful experience for the kids,” Karrels said. “It’s going to be a nice introduction to the bigger camp. This is a wonderful half day of activities so if kids go to summer school, they can do that in the mornings and this will be happening in the afternoon.”

Junior Space Camp wraps up on a Friday night with a celebratory ice cream social for students and their families at the museum.

According to Karrels, there are currently around 50 astronauts at NASA and only a handful of them are from the Midwest.

“We’re in the perfect position to do more to inspire these kids. I think sometimes when you grow up in a small town you forget these opportunities are available to you,” she said. “What a lot of people don’t know is a lot of the people who get selected to be astronauts aren’t always the smartest. They’re the ones who work well with others and have a very good attitude. It’s not necessarily about having gone to the best school, sometimes it’s about more than that. We really love this camp because we hope we’re inspiring these kids to go on and achieve these bigger things.

For more information and applications for both camps look on the museum website at

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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