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My First Alumni Experience
[Recap of NYSCAA Reunion 2005 – Washington DC]

By Marzy Moertl (Nebraska 2005)

Two weeks ago I was getting ready to leave the National Youth Science Camp; today I'm in the Reagan National Airport leaving DC after spending the weekend at the NYSCAA Reunion. There were 25 formal delegates and staph from various years including one from 1968 and two from 2005. We spent the weekend touring the sights and chatting.

If you thought the people you meet at camp were amazing, wait until you come to a reunion and meet even more awesome people. My roommate, Judy E. (81 LA), summed it up quite well when she said "the jerk factor is low." There couldn't be a more true statement. I have yet to meet a single jerk through my experiences with NYSC. Instead all I run into are extremely helpful, caring, witty, and overall remarkable people. I come from a large family and am leaving for college in 3 days, so there was no way I could pay my way to or thru much of the reunion. I emailed Michelle L. (SD 85) and she found a way for me to attend. I owe a lot of thanks to her and Dave Hacklemen (lectured this year) for financing my trip.

At first I was a little worried, I knew that I'd only know two people there, Jacklyn (MD '05) and Janell (staph '05) , and that many of the people would be older then me. I was afraid that no one would like me or I wouldn't enjoy hanging out with people so much older then I am. What was I thinking? These are science campers – of course they are awesome!

We definitely kept busy while at the reunion. The first person from NYSC I ran into was Janell and her son Bram. I walked into the hospitality suite, and met my roommate, Judy and other formal delegates such as Omar (FL 82). Omar is one of the funniest men I've ever met. I rummaged thru the reunion packets and noticed that Amit was a '94 delegate from Nebraska. I was extremely excited to see that someone else from Nebraska was going to show up. It seriously felt like forever before he showed up. We talked for a while and then headed to dinner. We went to some Greek restaurant which was AMAZING. (Isn't everything related to NYSC amazing though?) Afterwards we just hung out and talked, but it was amazing to talk to people.

It sounds somewhat strange, that I spent my last weekend before college hanging out with random strangers all at lest 10 years older then me, many old enough to be my parents. But as strange as it sounds, it was a great time. They welcomed me in with open arms and lots of love. I could talk with any of these people about anything. We talked about how camp has changed, and what's stayed the same. Also I got to hear some very good "back in the day when I went to camp ..." or "when I was in college this one guy ..." type stories. I often found myself losing track of time not even noticing that it was after midnight.

On Friday I woke up ready for the day to began. We went to 2 behind the scenes tours. The first was about bugs and pretty groovy. The Smithsonian has rooms and rooms of floor to ceiling cabinets full of bugs. Some were ugly while the butterflies were quite magnificent. After that we went to the old post office for lunch and meet up with some more people. We went up into a tower and looked out at the city. At lunch Omar realized that the Army Band was playing a free concert that included the 1812 Overture with REAL CANNONS! Our original plans were to go dancing, but you can't pass up songs that go "BOOM." After lunch we headed off to go learn about birds. Very nice! I enjoyed seeing a bird the size of my thumb next to a bird the size of 4 year old Bram. Then there was some free time. I went to the museum of American History. The first exhibit I saw when I walked in was Dumbo. I am a Dumbo fanatic. As a kid I'd watch it over and over. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I called my sister right away and told her there was a real Dumbo from the Disney World ride. When I went to Disney I would ride that ride a minimum of 3 times in a row every time we passed it. I meet up with everyone at the hotel and went to dinner, where Bram decided to propose to me. Hard Times is a good place for chili – everyone else ordered chili; I ordered "Inferno Chicken." It lived up to its name. It was a 4 glasses of water meal. I think my lips are still burning from it. I loved it!

After dinner we headed over to the Mall to watch the Army band. WONDERFUL! They played a good mix of songs and did an amazing job. We heard over 20 cannon shots. I was talking to Grant (90 WV, and lecturer this year) during the 1812 overture and a very "intimate" couple turned around and told us to be quiet. (I guess you can enjoy good music while "geo caching") Bram told them "oh don't worry it will get loud soon" Oh that made for a good laugh. It sort of was like "yep I'm a smart ass and it's cute because I'm only 4!" We got home quickly and sat around and talked; we enjoyed talking a lot. That was by far my favorite part of the whole thing. Talking to everyone. You can find something in common with each person or at least share some good stories.

The next day I woke up at 9:22AM, we had a meeting at 9:30AM. Luckily it was at the hotel so I didn't have to go far. At the meeting we talked about where camp was headed. This is important! There is this Adler fund that in theory if we get enough money into it the interest alone could pay for camp forever! The thing is, they need to get the money in there before it will work. Back in 1983 WV was having Budget issues and although there were campers selected and staph was ready to come, the NYSC program was cut. The governor of WV decided that there wasn't money in the budget for it and decided not to have it. NO SCIENCE CAMP? That's a pretty HORRIBLE thought. As soon as Alumni found out they formed the NYSF. The idea behind it was to find a way to always fund camp. Currently 1/2 of camp is still funded by WV. The WV economy is no good, what if they cut NYSC again? In all honesty that is the scariest thought I've ever had. A generation of scientist that don't know that the correct response to "How was your day?" is "I LOVE SCIENCE CAMP."???? You might as well have the apocalypse. One thing I know for sure is, that's not going to happen in my lifetime. The Adler fund needs to be funded. We also talked about getting an online database of campers and staph that's actually updated and able to be accessed. Then we talked about getting better turn outs at reunions and with people remembering to pay dues. I really hope that all of the 2005 delegates join the NYSCAA and go to at lest one reunion. It's worth your time.

After the meeting we split up into small groups and went exploring. Some people went to the Native American Museum and a Pow-Wow, some to the Air and Space Museum, and some to the Spy Museum. I went to the Spy Museum, cheesy but fun. It was a great time. We got there and couldn't get in right away so we went to the National Archives Museum. I saw the Declaration of Independent and an exhibit on a lot of random things from Army battles to new inventions to letters from kids to the President. It was pretty darn awesome. We took the metro back to the hotel and smelled a nasty electrical smell. We definitely wondered what was going on, and then at our stop they made everyone get off b/c the train was on fire!!! I've now ridden on a BURING subway! I thought that was pretty awesome.

Saturday night was the big main dinner. We went to a pretty nice restaurant. (yes we stacked some of the plates!) One '79 delegate brought along her pictures of camp for us to look at. Very little has changed. It was a riot to see what everyone wore and the hairstyles. I got to meet some new people and learn more about those I've meet already. After the restaurant we went back to the hotel for desert. We talked until past midnight. Ray was a stapher for 13 years and had some scandalous stories. WOW! I couldn't stop laughing or smiling.

It was incredibly hard for me to say goodbye. I had such a great time. These people are amazing. They do great things with their lives and are humble so they are enjoyable to talk to. I'm so grateful that I could go to this reunion and meet these people. I'm pumped for St. Louis next year and can't wait to get the '05 NYSCers together. You would think that you'd only want to talk to people from your year but really the people from other years are just as great. Once again NYSC has provided me with an experience that's hard to explain if you weren't there. My roommate Judy said that she doesn't attend her high school reunions but she always makes time for NYSC. It's just that good. You meet new people and see old familiar faces. Where else can you be matched up to room with someone you don't know and truly enjoy their company. I guess I'm pretty lucky to have gone to NYSC because now I keep making new friends and having great experiences. NYSC is always going to be a big factor in my life. I love science camp!