Geek Camp

According to Simon Pegg, being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It is basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.

Geek Camp is an opportunity to try something you have never tried before. That may mean exploring an interesting technology or learning to play a new game. It may also mean attempting a new technique with a technology you do know. We want all campers to use the week to collaborate with others. Sometimes that means being the boss, but it also includes being able to take direction and contribute to someone else’s project.

We offer two summer camps, one for K-6 and a PG-13 version aimed at kids who have finished 3rd grade-8th grade. Kids of all ages are expected to try new things, collaborate with others, and push the limits of their creativity and problem-solving. YouTube and geeky content does play a small part of the experience. The younger group will have more constraints and oversight on media, but will likely still be exposed at some point to fart jokes and the campy violence of Adam West’s Batman. The older crew will explore online content together without pre-screening, which may lead in unanticipated directions. Should we encounter anything uncomfortable, we discuss it as a group and then move on.

For more information about Geek Camp, you can read “Is my kid ready for Geek Camp?” Things have changed with the move to a different space, but the underlying spirit remains.

Family Geek Camp is being piloted in 2017 as an opportunity to become familiar with the challenges and perks of our new office space while offering the entire family a chance to bond and play together, Geek Camp style. The experience will be similar to how the regular kids camps work, but with the whole family participating. Because it is a holiday weekend, and people have complicated schedules, we’re letting people register for half-day sessions.

Geek Camp Challenges

While some campers come to the week with a particular project in mind, we offer this list as inspiration to try something different and use any mistakes to iterate (make your project better).

Make a movie

Video is a staple at Geek Camp. From the beginning, experimentation with capturing and editing video with accessible tools like iMovie can be empowering. Take that experimentation to the next level by adding a cohesive narrative to the project. Make a silent movie, telling the story through interstitial text instead of audio. Recreate your favorite rock video of make a trailer for a fake movie. Interview other campers as they improvise research for a mockumentary, or act out your favorite kids book.

Produce a movie

Movies require more than a video camera. Producing a movie involves securing a script and a director, supporting the creative work during the shoot, and overseeing the post-production. At Geek Camp, the producer might help the project by creating a costume, preparing the set, and getting feedback on first cuts of the video, to inform some final edits.

Animate a movie

Storytelling through video does not have to involve human actors on screen. Make a stop-motion movie using a long sequence of photos of drawings, play-doh or other toys. Enhance your animated movie by painting animation backgrounds to add to the movie in post-production.

Create an ARG

Design and create an ARG that can be played by campers. An alternate reality game leverages real-world sites, both physical and digital, as scaffolding for an interactive game. They can include puzzles and scavenger hunts, and often involve transmedia storytelling. Some ARGs have elements of role-playing games, where players are immersed in the narrative by assuming character roles.

Game-a-thon

See how many different games you can play in a single day. Include solitaire and party games to see how the social dynamic changes as more players are added. Our game shelf includes some suggested offerings like Ticket To Ride, Formula D, The Captain is Dead, Evil Baby Orphanage, Village In A Box, Dixit, Telestrations, Balderdash, Settlers of Catan, Evolution, Superfight, Smallworld, Mastermind and more.

Code Without Computers

There are many computer programming languages, but most share a common set of concepts, such as functions, variables, loops, and class objects. Even without opening up a computer, there are ways to explore those ideas through gaming. With a group of friends, play Robot Turtles, Code Monkey Island, the Function Game and Class Warfare.

Produce a daily podcast

In some situations (such as walking to work), audio is easier to consume than either text or video. Alone or with a partner in the booth, interview a guest about a topic of interest. Or, in the tradition of radio, tell a story in several parts.

Other Project Ideas

  • Create a Quiz
  • Make an electronic bugbot
  • Construct a marshmallow catapult
  • Recreate a superhero transformation
  • Publish a comic book
  • Take the Green Screen Challenge
  • PowerPoint Roulette

Questions to Answer

  • Why does wool felt?
  • How tall can you make a marble run?
  • How do you make a plastic paper clip by hand?
  • Is Oobleck a liquid or a solid?
  • What happens if you microwave dry ice?
  • What are the key differences between Codecademy and Tynker?