Spending the summer without his phone has allowed Josh to make more meaningful connections with new friends. EXPLO is where this future NASA engineer can let his guard down and let his out-of-this-world personality shine through. 

One of the biggest challenges I faced this summer was not having my phone. It forced me to actually socialize face-to-face with people. I think having these three weeks without my phone changed me for the better. My parents were always telling me I spend too much time staring at my screen, and I never believed them. But now I see how obsessed I was and I don't want to be like that anymore.

Since coming to EXPLO, I think I've become a better advocate for myself. I've been able to stand up for myself and for others more. [When we got our phones back] I actually got a text from someone I know back at home who was being unkind, and I actually said something instead of being scared. I also notice when I'm doing something that may be unkind and can change my behavior.

If someone were thinking about coming to EXPLO but wasn't totally sure if they should, I'd tell them to do it. To be honest, I wasn't excited to come here at first; I didn't want to be without my phone or my FortNite. But on the second day, I made more than half of my friends that I have now. I actually met three friends who live less than a mile from me at home!

I want to go to MIT for college to study computer engineering, computer science, computer programming, aeronautical engineering, rocket science, and nanotechnology. I want to work for NASA on an unmanned project to create a camera that can take photos galaxies away. I also want to make rockets that are more fuel-efficient, and safer airplanes.

The best part of this summer was...I can't just pick one thing. I made so many new friends. I was able to actually be myself; at school, I feel like I hide my personality a little bit, but I didn't feel like I had to do that here. There's no doubt that I'm coming back next year.