Summer with CodeCamp

By Erica Wang, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “Five-hour-per-day coding camp”? Orderly rows upon rows of identical computers sitting on desks? Utter silence as students are bent over their keyboards, slaving away, line after line of garbled text slowly being typed out?

Okay, so maybe you don’t think of something that theatrical. But would you believe it if it included singing, group games,  lots of talking and interacting, and a plethora of sugary snacks?

I wouldn’t have believed it. But that was before I went to CodeCamp.

CodeCamp is just what it sounds like; a camp for students to learn how to code. I went in thinking that I would mostly just help other students when they ran into problems with their code. I already knew a bit about coding.

And yet, at the same time, it was so much more than just a camp. I still learned a great deal that I wouldn’t have had I not went. I learned the concepts behind the lines of code I was writing; I learned how to communicate with others about the topic of coding; and I made new friends and met many new people.

Stanford students were there, preset to teach and watch over the students.

There were about 40 students there – some were just starting middle school, and some were well into high school. They were there to learn three different programming languages: Javascript, HTML, and CSS, which are the three most common used in the making and designing of web pages. Online learning programs such as Khan Academy were utilized. Their objective was to complete a full-fledged project by the end of the 4 weeks they were given to both learn a significant portion of each language and design and work on their project, which could be a website, an app, or a game.

This was certainly a daunting prospect which was not made any less intimidating when the coders discovered that they were not going to spend the full daily session working on their project. How were they ever going to get anything done if they had to spend over 2 hours a day listening to dreadfully boring lectures?

In only a few days, however, they soon realized that the portion of the day they spent off the computers was actually helpful. Most of the questions that might have arisen were answered. The talks usually involved physical activity, which helped the students clear their heads and release any pent-up energy.

This was not the only good thing that came from the lessons. The students learned that coding was not just about sitting in front of a screen; that coding (gasp!) could actually be fun, and that anyone, no matter their age, gender, or skill level, could learn to code.

CodeCamp was a great experience for me, and I’m sure it was the same for all the other people who attended. Middle schoolers who stood off to the side on the first day were speaking more confidently to people out of their group. Students who were unsure about coding initially were designing full web pages and simple games by the end. There is so much to know about coding, and I believe that CodeCamp is a program that students about coding in the best way possible.