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Coding for Kids: a Guide to Choosing a Coding Camp

Find various coding schools and programming courses that teach kids python, java during summer or all year-round. Get expert tips on picking the right coding camp to fit your child.

Coding Camps for Kids | Bay Area | Activity Hero Summer Camps

Technology continues to impact our world at an incredibly rapid pace. As a parent, you may be looking for a way to prepare your child for the future. Introducing a child to programming languages could be either a building block for a career or an entertaining option for your young gamer. If your child has an interest in technology or gaming, a coding camp for kids could be a great option. There are also online coding classes and camps that allow your kids to learn from home.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a coding summer camp:

  • What is the age and skill level of my child? 
  • Can my child type easily?
  • Who are the instructors?
  • What is the camp schedule?
  • What will my child be learning?

One important note is that coding for kids is not something that can be mastered in a week. It is a process that your child can build on for years, if they are willing and excited to continue learning.  

“My son is at the point where he can envision a problem he wants to solve and begin to develop the code to get there. It reminds me of student development in math and languages–it starts slowly but over time you see real progress and suddenly the child is bursting with ideas,” said a parent review.

Scratch Coding Camps

Scratch is a beginner level program that can be introduced to children in early elementary school. The Scratch coding camps focus on making sure children understand the foundational computer programming concepts. The drag-and-drop format of Scratch does not require a lot of typing skills and is suited for children who have never been introduced to coding. Games and animations are designed through ready-made blocks of code to help students build scripts. Scratch projects will encourage creativity, reasoning and problem-solving skills. More advanced Scratch coding camps will build on previous experience and children can develop more realistic and customized games. 

If a child leaves camp excited to learn more, parents can visit the Scratch website at Scratch can be accessed free online or it can be downloaded for offline usage. 

Minecraft Camps and Java Camps

Does your child love playing Minecraft or spend hours watching Minecraft YouTube videos? If they are curious about how to advance their gaming, Minecraft camps might be a fun opportunity. Introductory Minecraft camps are available starting in elementary grades and are focused on learning the fundamentals of creating fun mods. One important note is that some camps require a Minecraft account, so we recommend checking with your camp director prior to the first class.

Campers will often learn core computer science skills as well as 3D modeling and texture mapping techniques. If your child is an experienced Minecraft user, they may be interested in a more advanced camp where they can create a custom game experience using Java. Java is a widely used programming language, making it a great foundation for students interested in learning more about app development. Java camps are often paired with other coding topics such as Minecraft and Python.

Since Minecraft camps range from beginner to advanced, it is recommended to review class curriculums before selecting a camp. 

Python Coding Camps

Python is a very popular, all-purpose language. The lines of code are shorter and simpler than in other languages, making it easier to learn Python for kids. Python is a great language to learn after Scratch. However, you do not need previous experience if a child wants to skip to an introductory Python camp. While there are some Python camps available for children starting in 4th grade, many are designed for middle school children. The ability to type can be helpful for those starting to learn coding. 

If a child expresses interest in building on their camp experience, intermediate and advanced Python camps are available to take coding skills to the next level. One of the advantages of learning Python is that it is used in real-world applications such as web and software development. 

Web Design Camps

At web design camps for advanced students, Java will be used along with other programming languages such as HTML and CSS. At some camps, students will even learn to program a functional website during the week.  

Video Game Design Camps

If you have a young gamer, they may be interested in specific video game design camps or app development camps. Students will start to learn basic app development principles, including UI/UX design and advanced programming techniques using Javascript, HTML and CSS. Programmers use JavaScript to create interactive features that run on websites, such as games. It is the leading client-side programming language on the web today, making it a valuable learning experience for young coders. 

Roblox Camp

Roblox is an online gaming system where users create avatars and play games in user-generated 3D worlds. According to Roblox,”the types of gameplay on Roblox are just as limitless as the imagination of the creators themselves.”

Roblox camps can appeal to a wide age range of children because users do not have to have a strong foundation in coding to build a game. Younger campers use the built-in Roblox Studio to create 3D worlds without the need for text-based code. More advanced users can use the popular LUA coding language to create game actions, elements and mechanics. At the end of the week, campers can learn how to publish and share their game to the Roblox community.

Summer Explorations

Regardless of your child’s age or prior programming experience, there is a coding summer camp that is the right fit for your family. There are a wide variety of options available, whether your child just wants to continue their gaming or explore a future career interest. Kids can take a free trial class to make sure they like it before signing up for a longer camp.

You can find all these Bay Area coding camps on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app. You can search by location, category, age, and other criteria to help you find the best summer camps. Early bird discounts could save parents up to $200 a week on summer camp.

Parenting Resources

Marin kids get coding, making and inventing

It’s long been known that kids learn best when they can get their hands on a project.
And when you involve technology in that project, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity.

Getting kids inventing through making and coding is the mission behind Codemaker Club, part of the already popular making sessions held at the Intel Computer Clubhouse and ROP Media Center on 3rd Street,  in San Rafael.

Maker enthusiast, Marin mom, and ex BBC children’s magazine editor Claire Comins got together with Clubhouse manager John Macleod to create Codemaker Club. Starting out with summer camps, they now offer girls and boys codemaking classes plus family drop-in sessions.

‘There are so many skills involved in a project you design yourself, from brain-storming to finding your way round a new computer program, problem-solving and working to a deadline,’ says Claire. ‘The learning happens during the process. Sometimes, the new learning is in real practical skills – how to sew so you can make a soft circuit with conductive thread, for instance. At other times, it’s more creative like editing photos or movies you might use to document your project.59271ffe-4359-45db-ba72-08c4348e9ce5.jpg

‘At Codemaker Club, we start each session with a challenge like wiring up an LED light circuit or programming an animation in Scratch, and then let the students choose bigger projects to work on. It’s amazing to see the creativity in action as children realise that with modern tools like a 3D printer, a laser cutter and the latest computer software, they are inventors with the power to turn their ideas into something that they can actually use or play with.’

‘You can make anything you like at Codemaker Club,’ says Emily, 12, who came on a summer camp and then did the gift-making for the holidays workshops. ‘They have lots of cool things you can use, like the 3D printers and laser cutters. There are computers, a making table, lots of cameras and a woodshop area where you can put what you’ve made together. And it’s fun because you can create lots of fun memories with your friends.’ 99b8a654-20a5-460b-a205-7eb697e3c951.jpg

For families, the attraction is having all the materials and technology you need in one space – as well as making the time for it. ‘We’re all so busy that it’s sometimes hard to find time to sit down and make stuff with your children,’ says Claire. ‘At the Clubhouse, we’ll set up all you need for a project – like making a light-up puppet, for instance, and then show you how you can use it either as a character or a controller for an animated story on the computer. It’s a lot of fun.’76a0e1b8-e499-4757-ae9b-7f6b7264c0a9.jpg

Apart from running the Clubhouse, John teaches Digital Communications classes at local schools and organises maker events such as the Marinovators with the Marin County Office of Education. He strongly believes in learning by doing: ‘Using state-of-the-art technology is a good way for youth to learn the 21st century skills needed to be productive members of a global society.’

‘For me, the magic is in bringing coding and making together,’ adds Claire. ‘Both involve a positive mindset that puts children at the centre of how and what they learn. It’s a very empowering experience.’