High-Tech Summer Camps

It's a balmy 78 degrees with a slow breeze rustling the palm leaves and the arched, sandstone colonnades of the stately Main Quad buildings reading a rich yellow in the afternoon sun. Students loll about the fountain, bike through the Rodin Sculpture Garden, sip coffee on the steps of Tressider Union, and lunch in a shady courtyard enclosed by a decorative wrought iron fence. This is a July day at Stanford University, and many of the students are educators and young kids, here to attend hands-on, high-tech camps in a relaxed and summery setting.

We are paying visits to the Digital Media Academy and the Internal Drive Tech Camp, where educators and youngsters, respectively, are having the times of their lives working with peer teams to create projects that help them master cutting-edge hardware and software technologies. Along the way, adults are learning a lot about the power of integrating media into their curriculum, and kids are practicing math, language, and real-world workplace skills in pursuit of their own digital masterpieces.

For educators, both novice and advanced, DMA and similar camps (see "Summer Tech Fun for Educators," below) offer opportunities to acquire practical skills, such as how to create a Web site, design a digital storytelling unit, or produce a 3-D animated game that teaches physics or other principles. DMA's educator-specific courses aim to make users comfortable with the newest versions of commonly used products such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft PowerPoint, and iMovie, iPhoto, and other applications in Apple's iLife bundle. Perhaps more importantly, the relatively relaxed environment of the summer camp encourages the kind of camaraderie and informal exchange of information especially conducive to forming communities of learners focused on new ways of teaching with technology.

For parents looking to enhance their child's classroom learning experience, or wishing to channel their kids' energy and enthusiasm for technology in a positive, task-oriented direction, summer technology camps can be a great solution. Camps like iD (which also offers programs at Emory, Princeton, Northwestern, Georgetown, and other universities across the country) not only engage and empower kids by training them to use professional tools, but also give them a taste of the college campus experience-a wonderful motivator.

During the weeklong iD camp, youngsters aged 7-17 produce digital movies, video games, and Web sites, twist and warp digital photos, program robots, compose and mix digital music, and more. Among the high-tech tools they use here are keyboards and guitars, Final Cut Pro 4, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash, Canon digital cameras and camcorders, Conetic 3D GameStudio, Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, and more. Sports can enter into the mix, too, with afternoon possibilities including good old-fashioned golf, tennis, and even fencing and surfing in some locations.

There is a wide variety of such summer camp learning-and fun-opportunities for kids. Teachers can refer parents to the sites listed in "Which Camp's Right for Your Student?" below.

Susan McLester is editor in chief of Technology & Learning.

Summer Tech Fun for Educators

by Gwen Solomon

Need to get away from it all to focus on using technology in your classroom? You can go local, or if the spirit of adventure calls, try a more exotic locale. Here are some sites to get you started.

Apple Professional Development Delivered over four consecutive days at the user's site, APD courses include ongoing activities for teachers and administrators interested in finding out firsthand the possibilities of learning in a technology-supported classroom.

Digital Media Academy DMA University Hosted Programs offer beautiful campus settings combined with award-winning instructors and state-of-the-art facilities. Summer programs will be held at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin in 2004.

edVentures in Technology Two summer weeklong programs in Mercersburg, Penn., provide technology integration knowledge and focus specifically on handhelds.

Summer eCoaching Institutes These coaching and mentoring summer retreats from My eCoach in the San Francisco Bay Area are for educators who are mentors or who are responsible for coaching teachers.

The Learning Page: Professional Development from the Library of Congress Educators can learn how to use the American Memory resources effectively in the classroom.

The Learning Space Summer Experience School teams and individual teachers can come together in a retreat setting in Washington state to focus on creating curricular projects based on needs and particular interests.

Handheld Basics, Classroom Integration, and Curricular Integration. This three-day workshop is offered twice this summer at the Fetzer Center at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Summer Technology Conference: Teaching with Technology The Connecticut Association of Independent Schools offers a summer program for teachers who are looking for ways that technology can enrich teaching and curriculum.

Summer Technology Seminars For TechSem 2004, the English Language Institute at Oregon State University offers a one-week intensive format from July 12-16 with five to six hours per day of instruction and hands-on learning.

Workshops for Technology Education Teachers The DEPCO Technology Teacher In-service in Mundelein, Ill., prepares instructors for the challenge of teaching in a modern technology education lab.

ThinkPort Summer Institute The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore offers the ThinkPort program. Teachers work in small groups with mentors from all curriculum areas who have successfully integrated a variety of technologies in their classrooms as outlined in the Maryland State Standards.

Science and Mechatronics Aided Research for Teachers Funded by the National Science Foundation, SMART provides teachers with enhanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educational content through their participation in a mechatronics training and research workshop.

Tech Ed Concepts Summer Camp for Instructors TEC Summer Camp offers hands-on teacher training and the opportunity to share ideas with other instructors from around the country.

GeekCruises.com While not strictly for educators and not technically in the summer, Geek Cruises are worth considering if the program coincides with vacation time.

Educational Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa A vacation to Hawaii and tech courses could be ideal. Summer session course offerings include Ed Media Technology, Computers in Education, Teaching/Training Technologies, Computer Networks in Education, and Video Technology.

Gwen Solomon is director of TechLearning.com.

Which Camp's Right for Your Student?

There are literally hundreds of choices in summer technology experiences for kids. Browse the sites below to find a specialty camp right for you.

American Camping Association

Allen's Guide





Camp Search






National Association for Gifted Children





Teen Summer Camps