Choosing a Summer Coding Camp That's Right for Your Kids

Choosing a Summer Coding Camp That's Right for Your Kids


As the hours of sunshine increase and the dark days of standardized testing wind down, the end of the school year is nigh. And you know what that means: summer camp!

If your smallest family members are looking for something beyond egg races and capture the flag this year, take a look at these less conventional offerings. From animation to building robots to web design, we’ve got dozens of coding camp options.

Don’t see your favorite on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Far and Wide

CoderDojo: Non-profit founded in Ireland 2011 to organize free coding “Dojos” around the world, from Argentina to Uganda. The CoderDojo community is loosely organized in the sense that any local volunteers can start a Dojo and organize activities and programs that teach kids to code. Dojos typically meet weekly or monthly, and strongly encourages the usage of open source and free tools. Each year mentors and anyone interested in starting a Dojo are invited to a yearly conference, DojoCon.

Digital Media Academy offers summer camps for teens and kids at college campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada that cover a broad range of digital media technologies, including 3D animation, music, and robotics. Specific programming classes for kids (ages 6-12) focus on Alice and Java; those for teens (ages 12-17) cover advanced Java and Python around gaming and app development projects. Classes range from one to two weeks and cost from $775 to nearly $5,000.

iD Tech Camps: True to many Silicon Valley startup origins, iD Tech Camp started in 1999 in a studio above the family garage. Now, it offers week-long and weekend summer programs at over 100 universities in the States. These camps offer intensive computer programming classes based around different interests, including game development, web design, robotics engineering, film and photography. Classes guarantee no more than eight students per instructor. This year, iD Tech has partnered with to offer full camp scholarships to 100 girls. Otherwise, tuition varies from $399 to $4,099, typically running on the steep side at upwards of $1,000 per week.

Mozilla Webmaker coordinates free Maker Parties around the world. Organized by and for local communities, the parties enable students of any age to learn about tools and projects happening in their own neighborhoods--whether that happens to be in Palo Alto, Mumbai, Cape Town, Taipei, Athens, Kampala…

Youth Digital offers students ages 8-14 online courses and project-based camps in cities including Baltimore, MD, Charlotte, NC, and Orlando, FL, covering material including Java, 3-D animation, 3-D printing and fashion design. The online courses feature one-on-one support from teachers.

In Your Hometown

Code in the Schools is a Baltimore-based non-profit program that partners with local schools to provide after-school programming classes.

CodeNow, a NYC-based nonprofit founded in 2011, offers free programs in New York, Washington DC, Miami and the Bay Area to help high school students learn programming from professional software engineers. Hosted at local tech companies, the workshops take place over one weekend and a day several weeks later, so the students have time to complete homework and practice.

Classroom Antics offers day and week-long camps for LEGO robotics, video game design, programming, and animation camps throughout Ohio, particularly in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. The three-hour classes are housed at local churches, banquet halls, and community centers. Registration runs around $230 for a week-long class.

Embark Labs hosts camps throughout the Bay Area to inspire and teach kids to code original projects while learning computational thinking skills. The focus is on building student-centered learning communities that that emphasize design thinking and collaboration. The one and two-week camps range in price from $399 to $1098.

Kids Learning Code and Girls Learning Code offer week-long camps for students ages 6-17 in Toronto and Barrie. In groups with a ratio of 4 kids to 1 mentor, campers learn topics from digital journalism to wearable technology to game development. A week of camp costs $450, with lower prices for additional weeks.

KTByte, based in Lexington, MA, offers camps for kids ages 9-18 in classes from fundamentals to Lego robotics and Android programming. KTByte also offers contests (and cash prizes) for projects created by students, many of which are displayed on the site. The week-long classes range from $650-$720, and month-long courses cost $1000.

ProjectFun, from game development school, Digipen Institute, offers summer programs that teach K-12 students programming, design, and animation skills related to games and multimedia. Based in Redmond, WA, the one-week program for elementary students costs $650, the two-week programs for middle- and high-schoolers run $1250, and the pre-college four-week program for 11th and 12th graders, with tracks ranging from game art production to music and sound design, costs $2699. ProjectFun also offers a variety of online workshops.

Tynker offers one-week programming camps for kids in grades 3-8 in Arlington, TX, the Bay Area, and online. Campers brainstorm, plan, and build their own game or story while learning programming basics. The classes range from $575-$735.

Kodeclik Coding Camps offers one week and half-day programs for students aged 8-16, covering Scratch programming, Android app development, and Java. The camps, which cost upwards of $275, boast a 1:7 teacher-student ratio, and are offered in Fairfax, Herndon, and Chantilly, Virginia. 

Girls Only Club

Girls Who Code is a non-profit dedicated to creating more opportunities to introduce high school girls to computer science. Founded by Reshma Saujani, the former Deputy Public Advocate in New York City, the organization partnered with Google in 2014 to launch the website “Made with Code,” which provides activities and lessons designed to encourage girls’ interest in coding. Girls Who Code’s summer intensive program has some serious backers and funders (think Google, Twitter, Microsoft) that foot the bill to offer free, immersion programs in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Seattle, Washington DC, Springfield MA, and several locations in the Bay Area. (By intense, we mean seven weeks, Monday to Friday, 9 to 4.) The program covers programming fundamentals, mobile development, robotic, and web development and design.

Black Girls CODE focuses on introducing programming and technology to girls of color. The SF-based non-profit, founded by former Genentech project manager, Kimberly Bryant, organizes workshops around the country where “tech divas” from ages 7 to 17 work in teams to build games, webpages, and robots with programming languages like Alice and Scratch. Workshops typically costs $35.

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