Jerry Linenger: space explorer

Camp Tamakwa alumnus

Jerry Linenger has seen and appreciated the Earth's beauty - literally from the ground and out of this world.

Portaging across Algonquin Park at Camp Tamakwa or camping out in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was an experience light years away from his days at the space station. But the former astronaut maintains that camp better prepared him to live outside his comfort zone.

"There are valleys and peaks in life - that experience was a peak," says Linenger, as he reminisces about his camp adventures.

Linenger, 55, is the ultimate example that the skills kids learn at camp extend to infinity and beyond. "You can be in a situation that no one has ever been in before, but you do draw upon your past and use your skills," he says.

For Linenger, this meant a five-hour spacewalk, travelling at some 29,000 kilometres per hour, spending nearly five months with two Russian-speaking cosmonauts in the Mir Space Station, and surviving the worst-ever fire on board an orbiting spacecraft.

From the space station, Linenger gained a new perspective on his time at camp as he witnessed the beauty of the Great Lakes from such a distance. Today, settled safely on terra firma in Michigan, he is a founding member of Circle of Blue, a nonprofit network of journalists and scientists studying the global freshwater crisis.

"When our kids go to camp, I want them to have the same experience we had 30 years ago," he says.

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