Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Regarding the competition, parents looking for coding camps for kids have a wide variety of options. There is Code Galaxy, iCode, Code Ninjas, Coding With Kids, Hello World, Fun2LearnCode, Future Set Tech, Digital Media Academy, Gameworlds, IDTech, and even some STEM shops that offer coding like The Scholar Ship and Idea Lab Kids. It's great to see that coding is mainstream and that families recognize the need to learn to code and that kids embrace coding. So how do we set ourselves apart?
First, our staff of coders leads classes. We don't have proprietary software built to store student records and progress; our instructors know each child's name and strives to provide excellence in teaching coding.
Secondly, we teach coding year-round in our studio. If a child finds her passion in one of our camps, she is welcome to stay and continue her coding journey once the school year starts.
Next, we are not a franchise. We are a small local business started in Austin that supports our local schools.
Next, we are priced competitively to most camps other than the ones that are around 1K. I don't know how parents spend anywhere close to 1K on one week of camp! One coding camp owner told me he got started in his business when he saw the outrageous prices some coding camps were charging.
Lastly, we have small ratios of 6:1 and aim to give each child the support they need to learn to code. We started our studio because we love to code and want to share the rewards.
Many of these programs offer camps as well as classes. How are the formats different? 2020 will be our second summer as a business, having set up shop in fall 2018. The hustle and bustle of the summer with so many spirited kids walking through our doors is definitely uplifting and humbling. These campers don't have time to come during the year so are looking for one week of intense exposure. Our year-round programs are a different crowd, mostly kids who are serious about learning how to code and want to invest time and energy in the art and process. This year, we had a tween student from Summer 2019 camp return for weekly coding classes in Python. We also had a student from one of our after-school programs come weekly to learn Unity. It is a pleasure knowing that we served them well in these one-time camps/classes such that the families would trust us to teach them on a regular basis.
From a student perspective, attending regular classes will provide the necessary practice to get good at any STEM skill we offer, whether coding, digital art, or chess. A one week camp is great for introduction and exposure, but year-round classes allow a student to learn more deeply and allow a student to incorporate it into their regular education to develop the skillset through practice and reinforcement.
If you were to ask me whether I enjoy camps more or year-round programs, it would have to be the year-round programs because that is where we get to know the kids and get to go deeper with coding. It's where the magic happens and the passion is ignited. While it is possible for a one-week camp to ignite a spark, it is less likely because a week goes by quickly and the students often move on to something else. When I opened the studio, I did not realize how seasonal business would be because I expected kids to code all-year round in order to get good at it. In actuality, the parents' schedule also affects whether they are able to code with us on a regular basis! Families drop in and out with other kids' activities and some are only available during the summer. In the end, any format that works for a family and any time that can be devoted to STEM education is the most important factor!