Rollins sprouts tech kids

Camp helps kids geek out

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  • | 12:16 p.m. June 29, 2011
Photo by: Amy Simpson - Would-be game designers team up to play a computer game tournament against each other at iD Tech Camps at Rollins College on June 21.
Photo by: Amy Simpson - Would-be game designers team up to play a computer game tournament against each other at iD Tech Camps at Rollins College on June 21.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Throughout the summer, students on break from school will spend many hours in front of a computer. But one group isn’t playing video games or surfing apps; they are learning to create them.

For beginners and tech-geniuses alike, iD Tech Camps offer students ages 7-17 the opportunity to spend a week learning how to create games, programs, apps, websites and more. More than 200 will participate in the camp held at Rollins College this summer, and even more will attend at one of the other 60 universities around the nation.

For Camp Director Tameka Hanna, this has been an opportunity to work with excellent students.

“These are the people who basically are going to be our next lawyers, our next presidents, our next everything,” she said, “and so it’s great to basically instill in them the concept of technology early on.

“As cliché as this might sound, the children are our future, and if we don’t catch them while they’re young, we’re not going to get a hold of them later on.”

The camp uses strict criteria to choose industry professionals, graduate students, recent grads and upper-level undergrads as camp instructors. The ratio of at most eight students to each instructor is something that Hanna said is a definite advantage. The Orange County public school teacher said that the small class sizes at the camp make it easier for the students to learn such advanced concepts.

Accelerated skills

One of the instructors, Nick Johnson, was a camper for six years before he became an instructor for the course on C++ and Java programming. As he watched his students work on their projects, he said, “We’re on our third day now, and we’ve already gone through like, the equivalent of two years of high school programming in three days. Everyone has not only gone through it, but exceeded that.”

Brandon Slater, 17, from Lakeland, is attending several of the courses this summer, including programming. “We come to learn,” he said. “I really didn’t think that I was all that smarter than anyone else. It’s just wanting to learn more and taking initiative.

“It really was just the love of actually doing the game design and being with video games that actually helped me pick it up faster, instead of actual smarts.”

Slater describes one of his fellow programming students, 12-year-old Brian Reinhart, as brilliant. Reinhart is already taking calculus II in school, long before most kids his age.

“Yeah, I was really far ahead in math,” Brian said, laughing.

Lasting bonds

There are many success stories that iD Tech Camp boasts because of the learning abilities of students such as Brandon and Brian. Previous students have done everything from creating web design companies to working as art directors.

The digital photography and PhotoShop classes are pitched by the camp as being great technology classes for girls; the majority of campers are boys. Student 16-year-old Heather Precourt of Winter Park, said “You’re not stuck just sitting down. We were actually able to go walk around Park Avenue and take pictures.”

Jake Reinhart, 13, is also in the digital photography and PhotoShop class. As an overnight student at the camp, Jake has been able to connect with students his age that share his interest in technology. “You’re with these other kids who enjoy playing video games...There are people like that, but not as dense a group,” he said.

Heather finished his sentence, saying, “You tend to have a lot of things in common with the people who come here.”

Johnson agreed. “There’s a whole bunch of people who are just like you, you know? Everyone wants to make a video game, everyone plays video games,” he said. “It’s just a really awesome environment where it’s easy for everyone to make friends and you get to learn a lot, you get to learn how to make games. That’s why I went and kept going back.”

Learn more

Visit or call 1-888-709-TECH for more information and to find an iD Camp near you.


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