Camps offer courses in programming and app development, robotics, game design and more

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego resident Ben Connor, 11, uses Scratch, a program used to introduce kids and teens to the process of computer coding.It’s expected that more than one million science, technology, engineering and math jobs will go unfilled by the year 2020 according to iD Tech Camps. As the largest technology camp in the country, iD Tech Camps is motivated to change that statistic by hosting camps at universities across the country, including Lewis & Clark College.

With nine out of 10 schools lacking a computer science curriculum, iD Tech Camps provides hands-on technology courses for kids and teens ages 7 to 17. These camps aim to shape future experts in the STEM fields by giving students the knowledge and edge to compete in the technical job market, all while having fun.

“It’s not just any ordinary camp,” says Karen Thurm Safran, iD Tech Camps’ vice president of marketing. “Students take what they learn and integrate it into school, activities and everything they do.”

Classes are offered at more than 80 college campuses throughout the U.S. Lewis & Clark College was added to the list this year.

Camp staff transformed a vacant room in a Lewis & Clark College residence hall into a computer lab where campers can work. Avery Aaron, an 11-year-old from Lake Oswego, says he looks forward to using the skills he is learning in the camp to obtain a job with Oculus VR, a virtual reality technology company, when he’s older. Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lee Mair, 8, of Lake Oswego receives some help from camp counselor Simone Wood. Lees using MCEdit for the first time to program a Minecraft video game.

“It’s fun to program and code,” Avery says.

Currently, Avery is programming a vending machine on Scratch, a simplified coding program used to introduce users to the Java program, where he can purchase food items and receive change in return.

“Students can take something they love doing and turn it into a lucrative career,” Safran says.

Maisha Manson, iD Tech Camps director, remembered a past camper who was exceptionally quiet and hardworking throughout the week. However, when Friday came along and the camper put the finishing touches on his project, he was asking every camper and instructor to play the game that he created.

“And it was fantastic!” Manson says.

Like many campers, 11-year-old Ben Connor had never used programs such as Scratch prior to this week’s camp.

“I’ve never coded before, so it is challenging,” Ben says.

Now, Ben is brainstorming new coding projects such as creating a maze incorporating multiple levels with Scratch.

“The kids start with a project that they aren’t sure if they can do, but by the end of the week, they do it,” Manson says. “The kids get to make something they are proud of.”

What started as a series of classes taught in a studio above a garage grew into a national camp organization that has registered 170,000 participants in the past 15 years. However, don’t be fooled by the swarms of kids signing up. The camps guarantee an 8-to-1 student-teacher ratio.

“This allows the instructors to get to know the campers and their learning styles, so we can cater to their needs,” Manson says. “With the smaller camp sizes, every camper walks away with at least three new friends, too.”

Courses are offered in six categories; programming and app development, robotics engineering, game design and development, 3-D modeling and animation, photography and web design, and filmmaking.

The weeklong day and overnight programs at Lewis & Clark ran through Aug. 8. For more information about the national program, Click Here.

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