Finding Summer Camps
Image by Guilherme Jofili on Flickr
Summer is closer than you think. Check these cool, technology-based camps to help you fill your days.
It may be the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere but now might be a great time to start thinking about technology summer camps if you’re a kid or have kids.
The most popular technology summer camps close enrolment as early as February through March. And local camps start to advertise this month, or at least set up, if you want to make phone calls to your local schools and universities and YMCA, YWCA, and other community groups to see what they might offer this summer.
Summer tech camps range from one or two week sessions, either a day camp or residential, from outfits iD Tech and Digital Media Academy to local colleges and universities who sometimes offer summer tech camps. Tech Kids Unlimited, Black Girls Code, the coding club Coder Dojo, and other groups also offer technology classes.
If your child learns differently and has special needs, look into technology summer camps like Tech Kids Unlimited with additional staff and a low ratio of teachers and assistants to children. For special needs kids, the ideal ratio should be two kids for each teacher or assistant to answer questions without disrupting the class. It’s also important to know if the teacher has experience how to work with kids who are enthusiastic but may not keep up with the class.
Here are a few questions you might ask as you evaluate different camps.
How many years have they been in business?
The best summer camps have lots of repeat campers and have been around several years. They also have lots of parents and kids to talk with about their experiences. And often you’ll hear of these camps through family, friends, and teachers. Definitely ask for references regardless of how long a camp has operated.
How do they handle discipline?
If your child acts out, how will they be handled? Time out? Expulsion? It’s important to not only know how your child will be disciplined, but how disagreement or issues between other campers are handled.
Will the camp transport kids from camp to other sites?
Do you know whether or not there will be “field trips” as part of the camp experience? Are you okay with your son or daughter being transported by another, and, are you okay with your child being somewhere other than the designated camp location?
What does a typical week of camp look like?
What does a week look like? What should your student leave camp knowing? Is one week of camp enough to satisfy your student’s needs?
What is the camp’s registration process like?
I’m not saying that the camp registration process must be long and involved in order for the camp to be determined as a good one. But, if registration only asks for parent and student names and one form of contact (while not worrying about asking of allergies, emergency contacts, etc.) that might raise a red flag.
What payment options are available?
Some summer tech camps are very expensive because they have high costs for space, staff, and related expenses. Do not be afraid to ask if they offer scholarships, or breaks based on income. Many camps also offer discounts for paying early, or registering early. And groups like the YMCA or Coder Dojo have reasonable or no costs, depending on your situation.
What are their emergency procedures?
Another important question to ask has to do with their emergency procedures. Most camps never have a problem. But it’s important to know a camp or group has a plan in place if the building is evacuated or a child needs medical assistance.
Other factors to consider are the student to teacher ratio, the background of the teachers, and the ratio of computers per child. One computer per two children is not bad if the camp does pair programming, for example, where two kids work together to learn coding. Equally important, ask about the background of the camp organizers, the people who make the camp run every day and solve all the little problems that happen.
101 questions to ask when choosing a summer camp
Technology summer camps
Tech Kids Unlimited
Digital Media Academy
Emagination Computer Camps
Black Girls Code
Summer of Code 2013 was in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York, District of Columbia, Chicago, and Oakland, California.
An international coding club to connect programming professionals with kids 7-17 and their parents (if parents want to get involved).
Kids can Code
Based in Southern California with a focus on Python, Scratch, and Raspberry Pi.
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