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"I don't think I am exaggerating when I say I am looking at tomorrow's heroes," said Dr. Steve Pierce, chief technology officer, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "Each one of you need to realize that you are the future. Don't focus on promotions and don't focus on money. Focus on what you can do to make a difference.

"There are a lot of people here who have a passion for space, have a passion for missile defense and have a passion for directed energy," he added. "Each one of you need to develop a passion and think of what you would like to do in the future."

Since 1996, ASMDA has awarded scholarships to children, ages 9-11, of a parent or guardian currently assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command; Program Executive Office Missiles and Space; Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense; Missile and Space Intelligence Center; NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; or Missile Defense Agency, whether military or government civilian.

The 16 Space Camp students this year are from Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Virginia and Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. They are: Grace Allen, Olivia Campbell, Christopher Deoki, Rachel Deoki, Lonnie Dunbar IV, Iris Haas, Cassidy Hinkle, Sean Kearney, Henry Ledebuhr, Alana Leines, Christopher Phelan, Joshua Pierce, Nathaniel Seipel, Morgan Selzer, Connor Streling and Griffin Taylor.

Community leaders also talked to the campers and told them how proud everyone was of them for being selected and congratulated them on receiving the Space Camp scholarships.

"As you go through the Space Camp program you learn an awful lot," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. "You learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and you learn to do some things you never thought you could do. As you learn these things, you start finding out you can apply that to later life and it is something I hope you can take away from this."

During the week, the children participated in activities including rocket construction and launch; water activities; a simulated Space Shuttle mission; Mars mission simulation; Manned Maneuvering Unit; Multi-Axis Trainer, or MAT; and an IMAX movie.

"I enjoy Space Camp a lot," said Christopher Deoki. "It is amazing and fun. My favorite thing is the MAT because it spins you around."

The students were selected for the scholarship based on an essay, school grades, interest in science and space, and financial need. The scholarship covers one week at Space Camp, travel, a flight suit, clothing package, a calling card and spending money.

"I have enjoyed Space Camp; it is awesome," Hinkle said. "Others should definitely come to Space Camp because it is fun and you get to train on cool stuff. I would come back if I could."