Maker camps are one of the most exciting, rapidly growing type of summer camp or March break program. These camps focus on a very practical curriculum influenced by the Makerspace (also called Hackerspace) movement. Some official maker camps originated in association with makezine.com, but the term is also applied more generally and includes camps around the world.
Maker camps offer programming similar to STEM curriculum but add practical tech interests (ranging from robotics to coding to design) as well as craft materials. Makerspace camps tend to emphasize collaboration and can be thought of as more workshop-oriented than other technology camps. Some are associated with major corporations such as Intel and others.
Why maker camp?
The advantage of maker camps may seem obvious in our increasingly technology-oriented world, but here's a close look at some reasons to dive into a maker kids camp:
Addition of a social element. While technologically-oriented kids may delight in making things on their own, makerspace summer camps add the benefit of collaboration, comparison, presentation and communication (among other things). Growth in these critical soft skills gives kids an edge in social situations, and in job skills as they look at future career paths.
Curriculum is created by experts. Maker camps in major cities are often associated with universities and/or corporate sponsors. Teen makers can always work on independent projects, but the discipline instilled through professionally-developed curriculum gives them needed guidance in understanding a practical application of makerspace learning.
They meet kids from elsewhere in their area. Kids at any summer camp form friendships and connections that can last a long time into the future. Some Toronto maker camps are attended by kids from countries around the world, in fact. This is an extension of camps' ability to help kids grow in social skills and form early connections to others with similar interests. They might indeed form collaborative connections that may extend far into the future and be fruitful in ways that parents and instructors cannot anticipate.
Related types of camps:
Maker camps are part of a rapidly expanding universe of technology camps focused on helping kids develop skills they will use well into the future. Their practical-oriented curriculum has implications for the development of an entrepreneurial bent, and career choices, etc. these camps might be thought of as oriented toward older kids, related to robotics and other technology camps and targeted toward older kids who may have previously attended Lego or Minecraft camps.
Parents navigating their way through these options or descriptions need to work closely with their kids and with camps listed below to note which camps most closely match their needs and expectations.