A Collage Of Photos Of A Landscape With Trees And A Camera

Reaching for the Stars


Activities 5 minute read

Kim Spencer, Group Play by COMO and Activities Manager explains how for children, the future can be inspired by something as simple as tasting an astronaut’s space food.

Nicole Stott In A Blue Uniform

This week, Nicole Stott, a veteran NASA astronaut and aquanaut, is hosting a Space Camp at COMO Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos. She had a three-decade career at NASA, spent 104 days in space, including three months at the International Space Station, lived underwater for 18 days, and was the tenth woman in history to conduct a space walk.

A Beach With Trees And Buildings

We’ve been running our Space Camps for three years now, at COMO Maalifushi in the Maldives, COMO Point Yamu in Phuket, COMO Uma Canggu in Bali, and even a single-day pop-up in Singapore. This is the first at COMO Parrot Cay, and it has been exciting so far. The Turks and Caicos is also home to some pretty special space history: after becoming the first human to orbit the Earth in 1962, NASA astronaut John Glenn landed in his capsule spaceship off the coast of Grand Turk.

There’s also something about our island destinations that makes Play by COMO even more special, in the space and freedom that we have to move safely around. COMO Parrot Cay is no different. White-sand beaches, pristine waters, and last time I visited, several shooting stars spotted soaring across the night sky in just a few minutes’ stargazing.

Over the course of this week, children have spent time with Nicole learning about space, and our role as humans in protecting our planet and improving life on Earth. I’ve seen time and again how these weeks unfold — while each camp is different and comes with its own unique moments, the one thing that never changes is how inspired children are by sitting right next to a real-life astronaut. It’s one thing to see space unfolding on television, and quite another to be told a personal anecdote by a NASA astronaut with pictures of herself on board the International Space Station, floating in zero gravity. She talks about the indescribable beauty of the Earth seen from above; it’s iridescence, colour and glow. Space, she tells them, looks like the brightest lightbulb you could imagine, splattered with all the colours of the Earth, and set against the blackest black she’s ever seen. I watch as connections snap into place and little eyes turn round with awe to see the same person from the pictures sitting right in front of them.

A Boy Sitting At A Table
A Person Drawing On A White Board

Children work together as ‘crewmates’, learning the value of working together peacefully and successfully, just as Nicole did on board the International Space Station. They're inspired by the magic of space, and encouraged to nurture their own talents. Participating in creative activities that blend art and science, they decorate postcards which will be sent up to space then returned to them as a memento. They draw pictures on pieces of material which will get stitched together into a bigger whole, forming colourful astronaut suits. They also try eating space food for themselves, and hear about Nicole’s favourite space meals and snacks (Japanese curry, and chocolate-covered ginger sent by her husband and son). With the camp taking place over the course of a week, they’ve had the chance to overcome initial shyness, and to pepper Nicole with all the burning questions young minds generate: how do you use the bathroom in space? Do you miss home? What does the Earth look like from above? And it’s not just children who have the chance to engage; the whole family can get involved at every turn. 

A Person And A Boy Playing With A Water Fountain

We finish the space camp by building rockets. After everyone’s masterpiece is complete — with Nicole’s skills coming in handy for aerodynamics — we hold a rocket launch ceremony. The takeoffs can launch three to four metres in the air. It takes weeks for the sound of childrens’ laughter to leave my ears afterwards. And the best feeling of all? Knowing that amidst all that fun and all that laughter, there’s a deeper message too. We want to show each child that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it, regardless of where you come from; that we’re all part of a bigger story, and an interconnected whole. As Nicole says, her biggest lesson from space is realising that by working together, we all have the power to create a future for life on Earth that’s as beautiful as it looks from above.

The Space Camp at COMO Parrot Cay runs from April 13th to 19th 2024. Future Space Camps will run in the Maldives this summer, please contact COMO Maalifushi or COMO Cocoa Island.