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Playing Computer Games Is Encouraged at This Summer Camp

Summer time is camp time for many kids. Often, that means spending the days and nights with others somewhere outside, often near water. And then there are camps like the one offered at the University of Houston this month.


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So-called coding camps or tech camps are not your traditional summer camps. Instead of somewhere in the woods, these camps take place on university campuses. And while many camps today ban electronics like cell phones and iPads, at tech camps kids spend most of their time in front of the computer.

“Basically, I’m going to add platforms that you have to jump on. You basically have to get to the end without dying. I’ll show you my first level… let’s see.”

One of the instructors overseeing the students

Megan Kwatra is 10 years old and goes to Wilkerson Intermediate in The Woodlands. She’s attending one of the iD Tech Camps on the University of Houston campus and is developing a Super Mario-like video game. She started on Monday and is already working on Level 2.

“They basically gave us like an outline floor and platforms, but the rest we had to come up with ourselves. I made my guy … with a sword. And I also made it so that when they jump, they do a flip. So, I basically thought of everything myself.”

One of the students working on his gameiD Tech Camps are offered at more than 60 universities throughout the country. At UH, there’s been one each summer for the last eight years. Kids ages seven to 17 learn how to create video games and smartphone apps during one-week long sessions.

Lyndsey Moulds is the director of iD Tech Camps in Houston. She says the company has been around for 15 years now.

“They just wanted to create a summer program that was focused on engaging students in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – that would be more than a typical summer camp.”

But, exercise is also part of this camp. Kids spend five hours a day on computer instruction but they also go outside and play kickball or Frisbee with their instructors.

“Because especially when we are raising a generation that’s going to be more involved with computers in their adult lives even than we are now probably, it’s really important that they do have that familiarity and feel comfortable with going outside, exercising, taking those kinds of breaks.”

Sixteen-year-old Tristan Fontenot already knows what his future is going to look like. He says programming computer games is the only thing that keeps his mind busy and lets him take full advantage of his creativity.

“This is what I plan on doing for the rest of my life. This camp is actually giving me a great opportunity for practicing that.”

For some of the younger kids, the camp is just a fun way to spend a part of their summer. So does 10-year-old Megan want to become a game developer when she grows up?

“I don’t know. Figure that out when I’m older.”

Until then, there’s plenty of time to play.

Another student working

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