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No, Java-coding is Just NOT a Summer Activity

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  • Posted: April 27th, 2014

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    By: Sideline Sage

    My dad never woke me up at ten A.M. on a sunny spring or summer morning to say,

    ”Get out of bed, the computer screen is getting cold and that Java code isn’t going to write itself!”

    (Granted, personal computer screens didn’t even exist when I was little.)

    I can almost guarantee that even Mark Zuckerberg’s mother didn’t promote excessive technology use; she was trying to do what we all do… get our kids OUT THERE. You know, into the WORLD.

    I have a dominant right bicep after the daily prying of mobile devices from my teenage son’s desperate hands when he needs to eat, sleep or do homework.

    So it’s tough to be open-minded about the new existence of “TECH SUMMER CAMPS.”

    You can find plenty of experts (since I’ve declared myself not to be, beyond having a Masters degree in Elementary Education) who will say that the knowledge kids gain in game-modding, java script coding and robotics are vital, particularly in the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

    It’s also great if the talents of computer geniuses can be celebrated. However, I shudder to think that these high-cost, indoor-dominated “camps” would be a child’s only away-from-home summer experience.

    A promise on one popular computer camp’s website? “Be Like Steve.” To be clear, Steve is NOT the charismatic green-stripe-shirted man who used to host Blue’s Clues (OMG, mom, that’s SO pre-2001. That’s even pre-OMG!) Steve is a Minecraft hero: A pixelated cube warrior guy who mines himself pixelated cube castles, and protects said castles from the likes of pixelated cubed “Creepers.” Or something like that. Is Minecraft a less violent, more creative gaming alternative than Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty? Of course, but neither is even in the same world as a traditional day or overnight camp.

    The child-centered watchdogs at Common Sense Media are onto the trend, too.

    “Instead of rolling rivers, cabins, and canoes,” on camp brochures, they write, “it’s all about computer screens, ear buds, and kids gathered around an iPad.”

    Technology, in the form of streaming TV shows and movies, social media, personal computers and smart phones are for disengaging in life – not a replacement for engaging.

    Camp is a sacred time to be AWAY from technology, to unplug and engage with other un-plugged children, trees and grass and sky. And in our opinion, it ideally involves balls – soccer, base or basket – skillfully led by actual coaches.

    And, ok, fine, we’ll even try to find you one named Steve.

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