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Ask Slashdot: Setting Up a Summer Camp Tech Center? 49

Posted by timothy
from the wish-I-was-the-right-age dept.
First time accepted submitter michaelknauf writes "I'm running a large summer camp that's primarily concerned with performing arts: music, dance, circus, magic, theater, art, and I want to add some more tech into the program. We already do some iOS game design with Stencyl. We also have an extensive model railroad and remote control car program and a pretty big computer lab (about 100 Apple machines). Our program provides all materials as part of tuition, so I've stayed away from robotics as a matter of cost, but I'd love to buy a 3D printer and do classes with that and the Arduino is cheap enough to make some small electronics projects sensible... where do I find the sort of people who could teach such a program as a summer gig? What projects make sense without spending too much cash on a per project basis but would be cool fun for kids and would teach them?"
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Ask Slashdot: Setting Up a Summer Camp Tech Center?

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  • Screw tech. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbstone (457308) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @03:24PM (#42302799)

    The little bastards already spend too much time hunched over keyboards and phones as it is. Get them outside. They'll have their whole lives to spend in cubes.

    • Re:Screw tech. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday December 15, 2012 @04:11PM (#42303049)

      The little bastards already spend too much time hunched over keyboards and phones as it is. Get them outside. They'll have their whole lives to spend in cubes.

      Why is it that every time there is a discussion about teaching tech to kids, some goober makes the point that since kids shouldn't be spending 100% of their time on tech, therefore they should be spending 0% on it, and we shouldn't even be discussing it?

      Nobody is saying that they will spend 100% of their time on tech. Summer camps have plenty of physical activities. Most likely there is already a block of time set aside for "computer skills", and the submitter is just looking for the best way to fill that time rather than just leaving the kids to update their Facebook profiles.

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        Nobody is saying that they will spend 100% of their time on tech. Summer camps have plenty of physical activities. Most likely there is already a block of time set aside for "computer skills", and the submitter is just looking for the best way to fill that time...

        Under the NDAA, this could be considered a cyber-terrorist training camp and subject to a Predator strike.
        Just saying..

    • No kidding. Going off to camp is supposed to be about social growth. Meet new kids, do new things, spend time outdoors, swim in the lake.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The little bastards already spend too much time hunched over keyboards and phones as it is. Get them outside. They'll have their whole lives to spend in cubes.

      In 2008 the New York Times ranked French Woods as one of the top three performance arts camps.

      These photographs may give you some idea why: French Woods, Festival of the Performing Arts summer camp [weesteetee.com], French Woods, Festival of the Performing Arts summer camp Part II [weesteetee.com]

      There is something to be said for going "unplugged."

  • I recommend at least one computer. Also, computers these days require electricity and display monitors.

    Furthermore, keyboards are very handy for interfacing with the computer.

    Also you will need at least five dogs to ward off attackers who might come on the internet or the LAN to virus you. Big, scary barky dogs.

  • by richlv (778496) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @03:40PM (#42302893)

    wait, you have 100 apple systems and one of your main requirements is "without spending too much cash" ? :D

  • by Anonymous Coward

    find a job/calling that suits you

    allow the camp to flourish under a person who embraces it for what it is

    maybe return as a camper one day

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      My first inclination was to say "what a jerk" to the above poster, but after RE-reading the summary... he's right.

      If the camp is going to be about the arts, let it stay that way. I can understand maybe infusing a little bit of tech here or there, like doing "something" with the pottery classes or something with the model train set. But nothing so far as getting an expensive 3D printer or anything like that.

      But too much tech isn't really in the spirit of it. There are IT / tech / computer CAMPS specifical

      • by Anonymous Coward

        OP is wrong, but you're also wrong.

        You're all thinking about it in terms of a dedicated tech course. That'd be retarded given the setting.

        Technology plays a huuuuugggeee role in the arts now. Just browse around hackaday for all kinds of projects which could qualify as art, or be interesting to artists.

        Hell, look at processing.js and all the love that got from art lecturers.

        Ideally you want to open artists eyes to the possibilities of tech and those tech focused into artistic outlets (which ideally get them

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday December 15, 2012 @04:01PM (#42302997)

    My non-nerdy daughter learned to make a website at summer camp. They used some WYSIWYG tools so the learning curve was shallow. They learned some Photoshop to prepare images. She loved it. She made a website about how to grow flowers.

    My very-nerdy son did robotics at summer camp using Lego Mindstorms. He loved it, but it costs $$$, and may not appeal to the "music, dance, theater" crowd.

    A 3D printer is a good idea and lots of fun for both nerds and artists. Since it is just for a few weeks, you might look at borrowing or renting the machine instead of buying.

  • where do I find the sort of people who could teach such a program as a summer gig?

    This seems as if it answers itself, since the people who are most reliably available during the summer are students and teachers. You should probably look for contact info for higher-ups in the relevant departments (CS, CE, EE, etc.) at a couple of the local universities and ask them to circulate an e-mail with whatever you're looking for to their undergrad students (grad students are busy during summer, as are the professors). Such e-mails are fairly standard and a lot of students wouldn't mind having some

  • To what end? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kenh (9056) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @04:02PM (#42303011) Homepage Journal

    Why do you want to add tech into fairly diverse offering? Is the camp trying to get more campers? Are you wanting to experiment? Why?

    If you want to get more campers, why not teach programming on the 100 computers you already have?

    If you want to experiment, I'd say speak to the other counselers and see where tech could help them (playwriting for drama, notation tools for music, etc.) and if you really want to get adventurous, pick up some Aurdinos and copies of one of the intro books and have the various existing disciplines adopt tech into their offerings.

    Maybe a micro controller that runs the lights for a play, maybe they create an instrument in music lass, maybe they construct an interactive ate installation in art class.

    Tech is not a destination, it is a tool to solve problems - find out what problems/opportunities the programs have and address them.

    Robotics camps lready exist, why turn your camp into another one?

    • A good summer camp plans for all contingencies, and spending a quiet day working on tech stuff is a good option during a downpour. Save the hiking and backpacking for when it's sunny whenever possible.
  • Makes no sense... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You're an arts summer camp... why are you making it tech?

    Video editing and post-production
    Audio/video encoding
    Posting stuff online (though you kids probably know more about this than you already)
    Sound composition
    Lighting controls
    Animation

    I parents wanted their kids to go to tech camp, they would send them to tech camp.

  • A 3D printer requires making 3D models, which can require considerable take time and skill to create. The printers are also very slow and good for only very small objects in a reasonable time frame. As an alternate, I suggest you consider a laser cutter. These act as "printers" for 2D vector files, which are easy to create in drawing programs like Corel. The user's complex shapes cut from plastic by the machine can be glued together to make many interesting and fascinating art projects. The laser cutte
    • I suggest you consider a laser cutter.

      I second this. At my local Techshop [techshop.ws] the laser cutter is always busy. They are really fun to use, and easy to learn. You can use them cut or engrave. They work with most plastics, wood, leather, cloth, and even chocolate. Several people can multitask on one machine, with several editing and adjusting their designs while another is lasing. Tip: If you want to engrave a photo of your honey onto a chocolate bar, refrigerate the chocolate for an hour or so first, and use a bit-flipped (negative) image.

      You can get a good one for $10 to $15k

      Sin

    • I totally agree with the laser cutter, but also get at least two 3d-printers (in case one breaks). You are really trying to serve two populations - the camper with a casual interest who needs to have a project able to be completed in an afternoon (or he loses interest, thus the quick laser cutter), and the camper who's interested enough to complete a longer-term project, who would be interested in the slower 3d printer. MAKE magazine is currently running a special issue specifically on 3d printers, I sugges
  • Check out Children's Technology Workshop, AKA iCamp, http://www.ctworkshop.com/ [ctworkshop.com]

    The teach basic animation, stop motion animation, video game design, basic video editing, and probably some other stuff. They use all freeware tools on Windows laptops. Looking at their website, they seem to be actively exporting their stuff to other countries. Definitely worth a look.

  • So your camp charges almost $12000 for the summer and you still don't have any money?

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @04:56PM (#42303301)
    Don't dilute your camp's offerings with excessive technology. If parents are sending their kids to summer camp, it's because they want them to get OFF the computer, get active, and learn about the arts. Video game design is not an "art".

    I believe today's generation of children needs even greater exposure to the real arts like music (orchestral and choral, not the shit they hear on the radio), dance (ballet and tap, not that "high school cheerleader dance team" bullshit), theater, etc. I'd understand if you wanted to add a very in-depth Photoshop/graphic design program as that's moreso art than it is technology, but iOS game design is hardly something a parent would consider "art" when camp registration rolls around.
  • As a theater tech, have you considered technical theater? Lighting design, sound design, set design.... All of which go with your seemingly arts based camp? There is plenty in that frame work that translates back into real world usefulness....

  • Look at the list of hackerspaces [hackerspaces.org], visit as many as you can find in the local area, and talk to as many people as you can. Most spaces don't have a spokesperson or overarching organization except what's necessary to keep the lights on, so making contact with individuals is important.
  • Seems like there's a lack of focus. I would pick a topic or three and just work on those.
  • Hi.

    I think it is great that you have a camp that is well rounded in the arts and soon to be technology. I studied both music and physics in college, so I really appreciate that balance. Also, I ran a Technology Center at a Boy Scout Camp for 6 years, and am still involved in it today.

    My personal philosophy was to introduce campers to aspects of technology that they probably wouldn't see at home or at school. My specialty is ham radio, so my center had was heavily bent toward that. Ham radio gave me a way to

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