Summer Camps for Coding? Think Again

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Why not get one of the oft-featured ‘Learn to Program APL in a Day and a Half - 97% off’ from Boing Boing Deals? It’d be cheaper and you’d get that corporate-mandated worker training out of the way.

That way, the kids can spend the rest of the summer being, y’know, kids. With unstructured play, poking at frogs, playing ‘bouchie-cachette’ (hide’n go seek for you English types), staring at a dark, star-filled sky, and breathing fresh air.



If you read the OP, some kids like to code, they’re not all neo-neanderthals who like skin-cancer and Lyme disease.


I dunno. As a tween in the early 80’s, I was tooling around with our Apple ][+ (and later //e), learning to code more than I was outside playing.


Good point …

Thinking a one-week camp will get your kid into coding is like sending them to a one-week sports camp and thinking they’ll learn to play. It just doesn’t work that way.

My son’s been playing basketball since first grade with the same coach and a tight group of peers in our local community center. He’s played for his middle school and high school, and has practice all year round either through the community center or school.

This is the consistency and social support that it takes to get good at something. We just don’t have that with coding and a one-week tech camp is a drop in the bucket.


Yeah, save the summer for actual summer camps, where the kids get outside in the natural environment and develop some resilience:

They can code throughout the rest of the year.


The yellow face! It burns! Seriously, I liked computer camp and staying indoors. But that was in the early 1980s when meeting fellow geeks wasn’t as easy as today.


#No true wee Scot


Are you saying Neanderthals couldn’t code? Just because they lost their niche and went extinct doesn’t mean they weren’t nerds too.


You mentioned First Robotics, which has been great for us. My daughter has been in the club since middle school. Now she is on the high school team. Our school is pretty underfunded, and in this case it has worked to our kid’s advantage. The robotics club is small, and the kids have to make the best use of what they have. But my daughter and her best friend, as freshmen, have taken charge of the club and got as far as the semi finals at the state competition. My daughter does all the programming, and this has been the thing that got her over the hump, where she feels comfortable with it. She had tried arduino and other systems with limited success before, but after this years robotics competition, she and her friend are planning to build their own killer robot at home over the summer. luckily, we have a good machine shop. I am thrilled about the whole thing.


iD Tech instructor here. I mostly agree with the sentiment of this article. One week at camp is not going to magically turn into a tech career. Best case scenario, for those who can afford to send their kids, would be that camp provides the spark of inspiration needed to encourage future learning. I think much of this depends on the parents. Are they sending their kids to camp to be rid of them for a week? or as just one small part of a holistic education? I think camp can be an important experience for those kids who will become coders, designers, game developers, or what have you. Sure, it is not a complete technology education, but I think camp has the potential to show kids – who may otherwise have no idea – just what it possible with technology.

As an aside, I think this conversation speaks to the state of education in the US. Where our system is failing our children, private enterprises such as iD Tech step up to plate (as capitalism mandates) as a supplement to the education of wealthy children. One would hope that parents approach the camp experience not as a one off, but as a valuable introduction to tech, or just a small piece of a holistic, year-round education.




Anything put out by Daniel Shiffman on Vimeo or YouTube

^^^ very accessible to interested kids

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Sounds like you should be! That sounds like she’s learning a lot, especially how to lead a group and make something work out of less than ideal situations! Good luck to her!

When given the choice between “processing” (stupid name, have to quote it or otherwise mark it out semantically or sentences become pointlessly ambiguous) and Basic (not visual Basic, but actual basic Basic) my kids chose Basic. This was when they were pre-teens.

They thought Basic was more interesting and accessible. My son and his buddies wrote a simple text-style pirate adventure game in it, eventually developing saveable maps and ships.

(I tried to program a robot in Processing once, but was turning out to be all call-outs to C libraries, so I started over and wrote the program in C.)

My kid that loves programming was going to do it no matter what; he convinced Microsoft he was an adult coder when he was 11. But I have never found any way to engage my kid that finds coding boring with any programming language.

Don’t know if this interests anyone.

The kid has to want to code in order to get good at it. Coding has to be fun (at the younger ages), but not all fun is coding. I’ve seen plenty of “coding games” that are more “game” and less “coding”. That’s perfectly fine if you look at them as a video game, but not so good from an educational stand point.

My son is really loving Youth Digital. He’s on his third course with them right now. It’s not cheap, but way less than a coding camp and more substantive.

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My gateway was:

Full program listings for games and other programs in each issue, and the only way to play with them was to type them in and then troubleshoot all your typos.

Of course, it was a lot easier to make something that only took up a few pages but was still on par with most of the games back then, but still, it would be nice to see updated versions of the same sort of thing.

Aaaand I just discovered that has scans of the old issues.


I think what really helped me was that the coding book I had was not exactly the same Basic that the Apple was running, so I had to learn how to adjust it for the Apple. Then, since I was familiar with the code, I always had something I wanted to add to the program/game, so I learned how to make the adjustments.

And, 40 years later, here I still am, swearing at my code for not working…

[quote=“boingboing, post:1, topic:78919, full:true”]
he found the online exercises boring and formulaic[/quote]

Just like the tasks he’ll have when he gets a coding job! Sounds like great practice to me.

There is the magpi online magazine for the raspberry pi. Similar idea.