Camp Grandmama and Grampy Campy – Camp #1 – Mysteries of the Universe Day

What do these things have in common?




It wasn’t obvious?

How about if I add this picture…


Of course.  Now you get it….right?


Of course.  “Mysteries of the Universe Day” (thank you, Charlie).

Follow along, and you’ll see how this all ties together (a particularly useful skill … taking seemingly unrelated  events and turning them into a theme).

While I had originally envisioned this day as Constellation Day or Star Day or even Night Sky Day, the nature of our loosely woven, hotel bound, golf focused, baseball defined camp necessitated a different approach to the day.

To begin, we watched ALF in the car on the way to Adler Planetarium (I love themes).


Once we arrived, there were many mysteries for the boys to discover…


There was a lot to see, and like bright little neon stars, the boys wandered through the exhibits.


The boys were mystified when a professor stopped to talk to them. He told them that they should use their gifts and talked about his background in something, something, something science (we really couldn’t understand what he was saying…a little too scientific I guess). He went on to say he thought they would all make a name for themselves in astronomy.   The shirts evidently made quite an impression as he thought we were part of a school group.

I didn’t clear up the confusion.  It’s good to be singled out sometimes.


The glasses were the perfect accessory as the boys considered a life in the stars.


A visit to Adler Planetarium isn’t complete without a visit to the Sky Show.

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We saw Cosmic Wonder and Welcome to the Universe.  The boys were totally engaged, although at one point we all wondered if we were moving or if the screen was moving (it was the screen.  They asked).


I never quite understood why there was a display on Universities, but the boys liked dressing in robes.


I like the idea of Silentium.

We spent several hours at the Planetarium and then headed home for the rest of  Mysteries of the Universe Day (pretty sure there needs to be eerie music every time I say “Mysteries of the Universe”, but I have no idea how to accomplish that feat.  A mystery of the universe, I guess).


Grampy and I brought our Bushnell Northstar Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope with Super 25 Wide Angle Long Eye Relief Lens to the hotel/camp.  The boys each had a Bushnell Falcon 10 x 50 Binocular with 9mm eye relief.  We had several books on the stars and constellations (and by several I mean dozens), and I brought my own personal Star Theater Home Planetarium with Interactive Meteor Maker.   (By the way, if any of you have any idea what I just said, feel free to come to our house and show us how to use this stuff.  Really).

Did we use any of these technologically advanced astronomical instruments?


We did not.

Because we had twi-light baseball games and three must-do swimming pools, we all fell sound asleep in a heap long before the stars came out.  Instead ….


… we made Star Sponges (the answer to the often asked question, “what are you doing with cut sponges“)?


Perhaps not as astronomically profound as seeing a Messier object through a fancy-dancy telescope, but I can guarantee they were hysterically profound.


To round out Mysteries of the Universe Day, we used Duck Tape to decorate the 2 liter bottles so graciously supplied by our neighbors (thanks again, neighbors!).  We would have added fins and a nosecone, but I could NOT find the foam paper I brought.  I can’t imagine why I couldn’t find the foam.


The boys made do with duct tape.


After a rather lengthy (lengthy to an 11 year old) discussion of the safety requirements, we were ready to begin.

IMG_9126-1 IMG_9120-1-2



We coordinated the first launch.


Seriously.  At least 100 feet!!


The boys had a ball.


They especially like catching the now empty rocket … er … bottle.


Like crazy off the course meteors, they careened around the field and caught untold numbers of water bottles.



Crazy Cosmonauts

Category: Camp, What will we do today?
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(2) Comments and (2) Replies

  1. Jeana Miner | July 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply

    Jill, what did you use to launch the bottles? My grandsons would like it and it looks safer than model rockets!

    • jill | July 17, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply

      Oh, the boys sure had fun. I bought an Aquapod (go to or even Amazon). You can also construct one (we were planning to construct one from PVC, but time contraints prevented this….We plan to do in the next months…)

      Wayyyyyy safer than model rockets and these three very active, sports minded 11 1/2 year old boys had a ball!!!

      Have fune. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Jeana | July 19, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply

    The aquapod is a little too pricey for me! I’m going to go the PVC route. Watch, by the time I’m done I will have spent the same. But I think my big boys (30 and 31) will have fun doing that, as well as the launching. For now the little guys (5 and 3) will just watch. Oh and I’m sure they’ll decorate a bottle or two. Thanks for another great idea.

    • jill | July 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply

      I sure understand re: $$ Because we did the 11 year old camp at a hotel and had limited time, the Aquapods were my fail safe. I brought all the PVC stuff, but it was obvious we weren’t going to have time to actually construct it. Let me know how it goes!! Good luck!!

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