Tag Archives: Leadership

Astronomy Meets Adventure in Kenya – We need your help!


We choose to boldly go to explore – okay it’s not into space (though I’d certainly be happy to go there too!) but it is for an incredible Astronomical Event. We are headed to Kenya, a remote place (hey space is definitely remote too so they have that in common!) that should be amazing to explore for our next Astronaut Leadership Experience. We’d like to be able to broadcast the amazing solar eclipse from there with running commentary from experts to the world to excite more people about Science, Technology, Engineering & Math…. but we need your help!! Check out the link to see how you can help make this happen!!

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Last Day of Lake District Astronaut Leadership Experience

It was sad to see the long weekend draw to a close because we so enjoyed all the individuals that decided to come participate on the ALE course but alas all good things must come to an end.

The last day we had planned to go ghyll scrambling (bouldering through a water area) which would have caused us to get fairly wet if we did it “all the way” as planned. However, we woke up to snow that morning and it was pretty darn cold! We all braced for what we thought would be a cold experience but then our guides showed up and said they checked air and water temperatures and that there was no way that we belonged out in the water. I don’t think any of us complained about this assessment. So instead went did a less wet version of ghyll scrambling which was still a whole lot of fun!


After our scramble we had a bite of lunch, some debriefs and then it was time to part ways with promises to keep in touch and hope that perhaps our paths would cross again.

Want to join us on an Astronaut Leadership Experience? We currently have a Kenya trip lined up for the fall and there are several more in work that are going to be exciting as well! Keep checking http://isset.org/astronaut_leadership_experience/ for more details!

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Day 3 of UK Lake DIstrict Astronaut Leadership Experience – The Via Feratta

If you think the morning of Day 3 sounded exciting from my last blog wait til you hear about the afternoon. To be honest the afternoon of Day 4 was really what the whole thing was building up to…. We headed to The Via Feratta.

This is a unique experience where you can go rock climbing (pretty dang high up!) without needed to be technically knowledgable. Through a series of installed supports and ropes to clip into you too can be a rock climber on the face of a mountain!

So I have to admit even though I was one of the Leadership Leaders on this Experience I was not exactly jumping for joy over the idea of hanging off the side of a mountain! Here’s my thing… I am a TOTAL klutz at times on flat ground and trip and fall… when I get high up I have this fear that I will be a klutz up there and well you can imagine where my mind goes from there! All that said I was bound and determined to challenge myself and take myself out of my comfort zone as well.

As I mentioned in my previous blog about apseiling/rappelling we never push anyone further than they are comfortable so especially on a day like this we supported folks in whatever decision they made. That said all but 1 of the group made their way up to the Via Ferratta (and I have to say that the one person who chose not to go had already pushed way past comfort zone in the morning with the apseiling/rappelling!)

First challenge was to walk across a suspended bridge that was pretty darn high up and swung quite a bit. We all made it across there and started to get a bit acclimated. Then we climbed down a ledge to scale the side of the mountain which was a lot more challenge and required a bit of climbing skills. Not to worry it’s all incredibly safe. We were always clipped in with 2 separate lines and our mountaineer guides made sure to take really great care of us. I will admit that this part was definitely a bit unnerving for me – especially when you looked down! That said once again we all made it through this part of our challenge!! Go Us!!! Oh and I forgot to mention – to add to the challenge it was incredibly windy and cold. The wind actually was enough to push you around a bit and the cold made it challenging because you wanted to wear gloves but they made the clipping in and out more difficult.

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Next came a decision point. There were 3 options: 1 was to go across a single wire with arm holds across the open expanse which was the most challenging (especially for people who don’t love heights), the second was to climb up the side of the mountain to the very top (still very challenging but less so than option 1) and the third was to decide you were done and head back down to the Cafe at the bottom of the mountain (and you didn’t even have to go across the crazy bridge to get there). It ended up being about an even split… but only between the first 2 options! I was so proud of everyone to decide they wanted to keep going in some way. We all enjoyed our journey to the top (even if it was really tough at times) and felt such an enormous sense of accomplishment when we got there.

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Luckily there was a cave at the top which offered us some shelter while we waited for the whole group to regroup because it was really cold, windy and snowy up there! It was beautiful however! We got some pictures at the top and then scurried down to the bottom because we were all ready for hot tea to warm up!

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What an incredible day!

That night we discussed this day in great detail and how it effected all of us. I think it’s safe to say it was a great learning experience for everyone and not just in a climbing realm. We were a bit sad that it was our last night together though so we all hung out and talked until a little later than perhaps we should have 🙂

One more blog to go about the event and I promise it won’t take me as long to post the next one 🙂

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Day 3 Morning – Apseiling (Or Rappelling as we call it in the US)

Hiking on Day 2 had lots of team work challenges and it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other better. The evening of Day 2 everyone was treated to the super awesome space video of Ken’s from STS-132. Gotta love space pictures set to Muse music!

Day 3 was where we would really step outside of peoples’ comfort zones which is entirely the idea. By figuring out how you react in stressful situations you learn a lot about yourself which is key in knowing how you act within a team and as a leader.

First thing in the morning we got a briefing from our Mountain Guides about the day’s events. I have to say that our Mountaineers Chris & Steve were absolutely fantastic! If you are ever in the Lake District and need a guide let me know I will certainly put you in touch with them and you will not be disappointed! We (ISSET/Chris B, Ken the guides & myself) made it very clear that while we want people to challenge themselves but we never want them to go beyond what they feel they can handle. I know some people were concerned about doing things extremely out of their comfort zone but we never pushed anyone to do more than they could handle and never will.

There was a bit of apprehension from some of the folks as we headed out to partake in the apseiling but we always knew we were in great hands with our Mountaineer Guides. While we waited for them to set-up the lines we all got situated in our harnesses which we had become familiar with on the first day while ziplining. We had some eager folks who were happy to go first and some folks who were happier to wait a bit. No matter which end of this spectrum individuals fell on we had some amazing Teamwork with everyone being incredibly helpful to one another in so many ways. There was help with adjusting harnesses, helping our guides with the lines, helping people clip-in as they got to the ridge portion of the face on the way up, helping people clip out when they got to the bottom from apseiling,helping make sure that everyone had all their required pieces and parts and most importantly making sure that everyone who needed some additional moral support had it.

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Everyone did impressive work and absolutely everyone in the group apseiled successfully! Some loved it so much they wanted to do it again (unfortunately we didn’t have quite enough time) and some just loved that they did it and it was done but everyone was happy to have pushed themselves.

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We got some amazing pictures with Chris’s camera too but I don’t have those yet… when I get those I certainly will share!

Oh and we spotted some wildlife while we were out here…



We had an incredibly afternoon as well but I think that is worthy of it’s own blog post so I think I’ll end this here and I promise to get to work on the next post as soon as I can!

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Day 2 UK Lake District – Hiking Hiking Hiking :)

Day 1 was great but we knew Day 2 was going to be even better because it was a proper full day and we were right – it was fantastic! We started the morning with the exercise of planning out a route up and down the mountains here by teams. The 2 teams took different approached and since we have 2 mountaineering guides we went 2 separate ways. We pushed out and the weather, while not great was decent. The first part of the journey on the waypoints the team I was with had chosen was a strenuous and uphill climb but we were well rewarded with a beautiful view from the top and then it started to snow! Some people might think that’s not so good but to me it was incredibly beautiful and peaceful and it made the experience just perfect. But the journey was not over. We had several more hours of hiking left and many more places to adventure. Along with us on our adventure was a special guest named Oscar – our mountaineer’s English Spaniel who had enough energy to pull all 10 of us humans up the mountain if we’d had a sled to harness him too! He gave us some great entertainment and a bit of encouragement along the way with his barks that sometimes sounded like he was saying “Come on people let’s get moving! Places to go things to see!”




Great teamwork and great challenges to each person today physically or leadership style wise made it all one could have hoped for in a Adventure & Leadership Event.



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Yay for a Good NIght’s Sleep

Whew I feel so much better after a good night’s sleep! It makes all the difference really! Now it’s time to head off to breakfast and fuel up since it’s going to be another great day out in the Lake District. Just got word that Ken’s flight to here was delayed by 3 hours but he is well on his way now so we should be seeing him today sometime early afternoon I suspect. 

Gotta jet but since I promised you a few pictures here are a few from yesterday’s adventure!

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Arrival in the UK Lake District – The Adventure Begins!

The day delay was not ideal but not to worry – I’ve arrived in the UK Lake DIstrict for our latest ISSET Astronaut Leadership Experience. It was an uneventful flight to Manchester and then about a 2.5 hour ride but then I was smack dab in the middle of the Lake District and I am surrounded by great people who are ready for a fantastic adventure! 

No rest for the weary 🙂 we dove right into an afternoon that included zip lining and bouldering across some water. It was fantastic fun! Even the people who weren’t sure about the idea of zip lining did it and enjoyed it. One of the things we always want to do on this experience is stretch people’s comfort zone – not beyond what they can become comfortable with but it’s the proverbial getting outside of your usual box idea. I was so proud as many people did have to stretch beyond their comfort zone today and they did it with a smile on their face.

I promise pictures soon as well. I’m sorry I am just so tired (in fact the presentation I had to give tonight was not up to the par I’d like because lack of sleep has made it very difficult to concentrate and keep up a steady thought) and I am going to finish up this evening session (which luckily is just in a classroom and thus I am not in any danger – always have to be cautious of this) and then get some sleep.

Pictures soon! And my apologies if this blog isn’t coherent or if it’s wandering too much… blame the fatigue 🙂 

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I’m Almost on My Way!!

Well as I type this I am at the airport in Baltimore waiting on my first flight of 2. I have to fly from Baltimore to Newark airport and then catch a flight from there to Manchester. Unfortunately there are only a few non-stop flights from the DC area (where I live) to Manchester (where I am headed to then drive the rest of the way to the UK Lake District) and today is not one of the days that those are available so a stop along the way is necessary. No worries though – there is 1 super great thing about the Newark Airport…. They have a Crumbs Cupcake shop! I LOVE cupcakes and personally I think that Crumbs has the absolute best cupcakes in the world! http://crumbs.com If you are ever in the US I highly recommend giving them a try – you won’t be disappointed… But I digressed from my original topic…

I’m on my way! I am very excited to be headed “over the big pond” for this incredible Astronaut Leadership Experience in the Lake District. I think I’ve packed appropriately for the weather (I guess only time will tell) and I am excited to meet some great folks on this adventure! Be sure and follow along on twitter (my handle is @spacechelle) or on the ISSET Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Int.SpaceSchool or here on my blog! I do have to admit that it will likely be so busy that the most updates will probably happen on Twitter since it’s so quick and easy!

UK here I come!


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Even “The Astronaut” is Getting Excited!

Well for those of you who don’t know us and haven’t figured it out… On this upcoming ISSET Astronaut Leadership Experience the astronaut who will be joining us is none other than my husband Ken Ham. Wondering how we met? Well what I will tell you is that we met at NASA and if you want the rest of the story you will have to join us on one of these events that we happen to be at! 🙂 

So this morning I slept in a little later than Ken (he’s a morning person and I am not so much so!) and when I walked downstairs I found him staring at the iPad grinning like a kid. When I asked him what he was all giddy about he divulged that he was watching videos of some of the stuff that we are going to do in the UK Lake District as part of the ALE Program later this week. He went on to say how incredibly awesome it looks and he knows we are going to have so much fun! Now he had looked at what the plan is for the program before but I guess this was the first time he’d really dug into the details of the adventure part. Bottom line is – he’s super psyched about this program (as am I!) and we certainly hope those of you who are joining us are excited too!

If I am not mistaken there are a few more spots available… care to join us?


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One Week til I Leave for the UK Lake District

My oh my how 2013 has flown by! It’s nearly March yet it seems like New Years was just yesterday! Okay maybe I can give you that it feels like New Years was last week but certainly not almost 2 months ago!!

A week from today I leave for our latest Astronaut Leadership Experience (ALE) which will be in the UK Lake District. I don’t know about all of you but I am a list maker so I’ve started my list of items that I need to pack. Clearly it’s going to be a wee bit chilly there so I figure that I ought to make sure now that I have everything I need so I can go get anything that I might not have. 

I know it’s going to be an awesome trip and I can’t wait to be part of it! Are you sad you are missing it? Well fret not! There are still some spaces available – you can check out more information at http://isset.org/astronaut_leadership_experience/lake_district.php Or if you can’t join us on this one we have one more officially scheduled and are working on some others too! As always I want to know if there is anywhere in particular you’d like to see us host a program or if there’s a specific astronomical experience you’d like to see with us!

After our ALE Program we will be touring about parts of England to talk to various schools. I am always excited to do this as well because we get to meet so many people and often get asked some really great questions! 

Well I know this is a fairly short and not so entertaining blog but I have to get back to my packing list and some very important emails about a wide variety of ISSET programs that are in work… More on those soon!!


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