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Ask Slashdot: Tech-Related Summer Camps For Teenagers? 177

First time accepted submitter jcreus writes "I am a teenager (aged 14, though turning 15 before summer), and I've recently been looking for summer camps in the USA. My interests include physics, mathematics (to a lesser extent) and computer science (I already know several programming languages). However, I haven't been able to find anything really exciting. The difficulties I've found include the fact that most are general-oriented, whereas I'm seeking something specific. Furthermore, some are USA-student-only (and I'm European), and most computer-science oriented camps seem to be for non-programmers. What are your experiences with such camps?"
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Ask Slashdot: Tech-Related Summer Camps For Teenagers?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:49PM (#38624560)

    There are just too many people in those places.

  • Space Camp! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:51PM (#38624576)

    space camp! run by NASA.

  • Our eldest is going to one of the NASA Space camps [spacecamp.com] later this year. It's costing us a bit in airfares and suchlike, but she expects it will be worth it.

    • See the above post. NASA has nothing to do with Space Camp.

      • by pbhj ( 607776 )

        Well, the USSRC say "The USSRC, NASA's first visitor center, opened in 1970 and has served over 12 million visitors to date." and that's where Space Camp is held, in "NASA's first visitor center". Also in the film I watched on the Space Camp website attendees had NASA badges on their suits. Lastly the USSRC "houses NASA's Educator Resource Center" ...

        So it seems they have something to do with it; but sure as anything they don't run it.

  • by eaddict ( 148006 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:56PM (#38624632)

    You might want to look into something like [internaldrive.com] this or this [mtu.edu] .
    My daughter took one out of this one [umich.edu], specifically one on Physics [umich.edu]. She loved it and we plan to do another. My other daughter is looking forward to this one.

    • I was just going to point about Michigan Tech's Summar Youth Program: http://youthprograms.mtu.edu/ [mtu.edu]

      It is a very well run educational summer camp at one of the better small engineering and sciences schools in the country. I did a summer of intro to CS classes while in high school and got a huge jump start for my college career. Also it is a lot of fun and a beautiful place to visit.

    • by apt ( 669240 )
      Me and my wife are involved with the Michigan Tech summer youth programs and are familiar with the CS offerings. If anybody has any questions about it, feel free to reply! It is not unusual for international students to participate in the program. http://youthprograms.mtu.edu/ [mtu.edu]
  • Not useful for the original poster, but Ohio high school students can apply for a two week camp at the Ohio Supercomputing Center (http://www.osc.edu/education/si/). I went a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Most students don't get an opportunity to do massively parallel programming across thousands of processors.
  • Shad Valley (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fuzion ( 261632 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:00PM (#38624668)

    If you're open to considering locations in Canada, then Shad Valley [www.shad.ca] is a great program that a lot of my friends have gone to. It's hosted by a university in Canada and is well suited for someone interested in tech. I'd recommend the University of Waterloo location as it probably provides the best exposure to the tech companies in Canada.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:02PM (#38624682)

    In the mid-1990s, I went to a Civil Engineering "summer camp" as a 8th grader (about 14) at Michigan Technological University. It was mostly geared towards fun applications of things and not the math/calculation part of it. Unfortunately, as you've found out, many programs are going to be pretty lightweight.

    However, John Hopkins University has put together a decent list of summer programs for people about your age. http://cty.jhu.edu/imagine/linka4.htm
    Many of them don't require US citizenship because they aren't funded by USgovernment money. The Penn Summer Science Academy has a set for Experimental Physics which could be interesting.

    My best advice would be to email the contact people and explain what you are looking for, focusing on what your experience is and your desired challenge level. Ask them if they think their program would be a good fit.

  • CTY (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knile ( 18599 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:11PM (#38624766)

    If you want to do just one course for three weeks, find out if you're eligible for CTY [jhu.edu], which does do an international talent search [jhu.edu], though you may be too late for Summer 2012

    • CTY's qualifier is an invite to take the SAT in the 8th grade... a score that is reported to you but hidden from colleges when you send scores later on in high school. It served as an excellent practice and I learned what I needed to learn about before I started high school. The Princeton Review books also serve as good info for that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Center for Talented Youth is a programme that runs camps at various universities in the US.
    There is one in Dublin Ireland that might be an option for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At your age it would be far more healthy, and a far better use of your time, to seek out an opportunity to get laid.

    I'm only half joking here. You'll probably continue to enjoy your hobby, and perhaps turn it into a career, regardless of yet another nerd fest. You'll have plenty of opportunities to attend LAN parties, and other socially inept gatherings, later in life. By most definitions I suppose I'm a geek, given my professional and amateur interests; but I've never regretted the stupid, wonderful, awkwa

    • I actually kind of have to agree. You've stated you know a bunch of programming language already, which tells me that you really don't need "camp" to help you learn something that a book will. If you are being forced to choose a camp to go to by the paternal units, do something different.

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      At your age it would be far more healthy, and a far better use of your time, to seek out an opportunity to get laid.

      Going to America should be good then. It'll be "OMG I love your accent!", and he's automatically more interesting as he's from halfway (ok, ¼-way) round the world.

      It sounds like a great idea -- the only "summer camps" I ever heard about in my country are religious, so I never went to one, but apart from the religion they sounded like great fun. The best bit will be meeting/socialising/playing/working with other people, so most of the reason for choosing the right kind of event is to meet the right k

  • As much as he's been marred for his personal mishaps, Tiger Woods has set up Learning Centers in LA, DC, and a couple of other locations that focus on teaching STEM type curriculum, while providing some physical activity to break up any academic tedium (exercise is good for the mind). I have no accounts of the quality, however it is an option to be explored. www.tigerwoodsfoundation.org
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:22PM (#38624850)

    I might be completely off-base here but, at 14, It seems that you already spend more than fair share of your time on these "tech" pursuits (you already know a lot of programming languages and have interests in physics and math). I have been on that path before - pursuing purely tech/geek oriented tasks and activities. My suggestion is to go for something that's completely tangential to your personality, something out of your comfort zone - it'll expand your horizons and challenge you in a way that'll continue to benefit you throughout your life. I would highly recommend ballroom dancing (or salsa for that matter) - it's a highly social activity, you interact a lot with the members of opposite sex and you learn dancing too [trust me, it comes in handy when going out clubbing in college :D]. Other options include painting and learning a new musical instrument.

    • Can't seem to find a link to a similar program now, but around middle school age my father sent me on a 2-week camp trip. In retrospect, it was pretty amazing... We traced our way down the Patuxent River watershed. We mucked around in the swamps pretending we were muskrats, smearing detritus on our faces. We canoed to campsites, jumping out of them and sheltering below the reeds as a freak thunderstorm blew through. We took two showers the entire time, one of them lasting less than 2 minutes. We rode

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stanford has their EPGY program..I did it last year and it was really good. They have a bunch of Math/Physics courses and some CS stuff. http://epgy.stanford.edu/summer/index.html

  • by Paxinum ( 1204260 )
    I'd suggest Wolfram Summer school, http://www.wolframscience.com/summerschool/2012/ [wolframscience.com] It is math-oriented programming, in Mathematica. I have not gone there myself, but Mathematica is a quite nice language. However, Stephen Wolfram is sort of strange, being obsessed by cellular automatas and all that, but otherwise, my guess is that it is a nice school.
  • by MoronGames ( 632186 ) <cam,henlin&gmail,com> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:36PM (#38624988) Journal
    When I was younger, during the summers between junior high and high school, I used to go to iD tech camps [internaldrive.com]. I went to the one on the Stanford campus specifically. While there, I got to meet other kids interested in the same things as myself, and I got to go through some short, week long programming language crash courses. If I remember correctly, iD taught me Java, C++, and C#. They had other courses besides programming, such as video editting, and web page design. It was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it to others!
  • A long time ago... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:41PM (#38625010) Homepage

    In the summer of '87, just before I graduated high school, I was among a small group of students chosen to spend a week in a computer science summer camp run by Stuart Reges at Stanford. The lectures were all across the board, a smattering of a lot of stuff. We had a lab of Mac 512Ke computers (and a Mac Plus fileserver) on which we learned the basics of Lisp, and there was a networking lecture which posed the Two Generals' Problem, and a lecture on artificial intelligence gave us the Muddy Children Puzzle, and we got to learn Emacs on the school's VAX running VMS, and we got a glimpse of X windows running on a Sun workstation, and I remember a night in an auditorium where we got to see an Amiga use its 4096-color palette to display photorealistic images!

    But the most important thing I learned that week - the thing that I've carried with me all the years since then - is that there are *other people like me*. I was a geek in an athletic high school. I was the kid who got beat up and picked on. I was told I had no future because I spent my free time disassembling Apple II games and figuring out how they worked instead of kicking a football. And I believed it - until the day I arrived at that Stanford camp and found other kids who did this sort of stuff, and built robots at home, and memorized pi to a hundred digits, and knew magic tricks, and had a whole bunch of other neat things in their heads which today seem stereotypically nerdy but, back then, the important thing is that none of them involved kicking a football, and these kids were *proud* of who they were and what they could do.

    It was only a week. I could say that week changed my life, but it would be more accurate to say that, without it, I might not be here today.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by buddyglass ( 925859 )

      So you met kids who, just like the jocks who picked on you, were unreasonably proud of their own more-or-less meaningless skills. Like magic tricks and memorizing pi to 100 digits. Thus was your identification with nerd subculture cemented forever. Yeah; I'm not sure I view that as a positive thing. And I say this as someone who is not athletic, went to nerdy schools and works as a software developer.

      • Like a bully, you're apparently the kind of person who feels a need to pick at other people's self-confidence.

        • Dunno, I thought it was pretty tame. There are folks who have nerdy interests and who pursue them because they enjoy them. Then there are the ones who memorize pi to 100 digits and wear capes. The former type may do quirky things if they happen to enjoy doing them. The latter do quirky things for the sake of being quirky because their identity is built around being the "quirky outsider". It's irritating.
          • by xaxa ( 988988 )

            the ones who memorize pi to 100 digits and wear capes ... do quirky things for the sake of being quirky because their identity is built around being the "quirky outsider". It's irritating.

            (I'll ignore that the earlier post implied the people memorising pi were also building robots.)

            What's wrong with being a quirky outsider? Do/did you envy the attention they had? Were you not able to be quirky yourself, perhaps because of parental or peer pressure?

            While I was at school I socialised with the goths, and copied their clothes to a small extent. I enjoyed being a bit different to most people but fitting in with my friends. Then, at 18, I wondered if this was reason I didn't have many friends,

            • Goths irritate me too, for the record. And certainly not because I can't be one. I think what bothers me is the extent to which it's so affected. This sentence struck me as unintentionally funny:

              So I went and bought some blacker clothes :-). I socialised with people who didn't care for social norms

              Sure they care about social norms. Just not the norms of the majority; they care about the social norms of their little subculture. Which is why you went out and bought black clothes so you could fit in wit

    • I was told I had no future because I spent my free time disassembling Apple II games and figuring out how they worked instead of kicking a football.

      Was that just something the sports coach said, or is it an accurate reflection of what you were told in school in general? If the latter, then that's possibly the most fucked up thing I've ever heard.

      I'm not American (never even been there) but I understand a lot of schools over there are very focussed around their (American-) Football teams and similar sports. I've nothing against sports being a part of school life, for those who enjoy that sort of thing. But they should never, *ever* be the primary focu

      • by muridae ( 966931 )
        Not the OP, so I can't say. But in the American school I went to, the consensus from the other students was that 'geeks and dweebs are worthless'. If you weren't a jock, cheerleader, or in the theater or choir, you weren't. The teachers were less cruel than the students and the general faculty, but the parents of the other students often were as bad as the students. The guidance department, staff that helped students find colleges and tried to work on esteem issues, were overworked. I think I talked to them
      • To be fair - my high school faculty were good at encouraging me in any direction I chose, and I owe some of my teachers a great debt for the effort they put forth for me. It was my peers, my classmates, who made my daily life a living hell. Being bullied was what disconnected me from other people and sent me deep into my studies, and that's what got me through an Ivy League education and a Silicon Valley IPO small fortune. But it also left deep emotional scars that I still deal with. I would gladly have giv

        • Damn, puts my mildly crap time at school in perspective to be honest. :-/

          I hope you find what you're looking for anyway.
      • I'm not American (never even been there)

        I doubt he is either - he referred to kicking a football. Normally only two players per team do that, slightly more are involved in throwing, catching and running with it, but many never even touch it during a game.

  • by ThorGod ( 456163 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @05:51PM (#38625066) Journal

    New Mexico Tech has a set of summer camps. nmt.edu

    They're all engineering/science/computer related. I'd chuck my kids off there, if I had them, without any reservations.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I was in high school, I was lucky to get a summer job at IBM doing internal Linux support in one of their software divisions. I learned a lot, enjoyed my work, and made some industry contacts. At the time, it was pretty sweet to make some money as well. So if you want something a little more intensive and specific than a general science camp, maybe an internship would be a good fit.

    As I said, I got kind of lucky with this -- my high school CS teacher knew someone -- but if you just take some initiat

  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @06:12PM (#38625206)
    Yeah. Go hike around the Alps or something. As the years roll by, you'll look back on that sort of experience more fondly than a summer spent coding.
  • you just have to find the right one (possibly not an easy process). I attended Engineering State at Utah State University and had a lot of fun. It helped me decide between computer engineering and electrical engineering. http://www.engineering.usu.edu/htm/engineering-news/e-state [usu.edu]
  • It's slightly off-topic, so pardon this, but many of the Slashdot readers are also atheists, freethinkers, etc.

    There is an international network of summer camps called Camp Quest (www.CampQuest.org), and they teach about science, peer review, skepticism, evolution... plus all your traditional camp activities like hiking, arts and crafts, campfires, etc.

    There's about a dozen locations in the US, including two in California, plus three overseas.

  • I have nothing to do with this site, but it looks like a good place to look. http://www.camppage.com/ [camppage.com]

    At that age I remember having a great time at summer computer camp in Vermont (2 weeks sleep away) in the early/mid 80's. I had the best time doing the non-computer things (like sailing on Lake Champlain), but I always did as many computer related activities/classes as I could. We got to use the newest Commodore CBM with Pascal! As an advanced class I also learned Fortran on the big IBM (System/34 I thi

  • Just getting out of your hometown, seeing different part of the world, learning what college is like is a great experience. And you may meet nice people too. I did this a couple of summers and found it very rewarding.
  • My honest advice, is to get a fucking life. Seriously, get away from the computer this whole summer and meet new people, socialise, have some fun, do some normal teenage things, drink beer, get laid, go travelling, teach English, whatever. Just stay away from the fucking computer and other geeks and nerds. In twenty years' time, you'll either thank me for this, or regret the day you signed up for summer camp 2012.
    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      My honest advice, is to get a fucking life. Seriously, get away from the computer this whole summer and meet new people, socialise, have some fun, do some normal teenage things, drink beer, get laid, go travelling, teach English, whatever.

      Maybe it's an America/Europe thing, but are you suggesting the teenagers interested in computers don't do this stuff? Some of them don't, but as many "normal" teenagers don't either.

      I remember the last week of secondary school (16), when the "normal" people were talking to us "nerdy" people. They were quite surprised that several of us had girl/boyfriends -- just not from the same school; that we'd all been drunk as often (or more often!) than they had; and had done things like visit London (long way, 30x

  • by billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:26PM (#38625618)

    When I was 14, the only kind of camp I was interested in was one with hot girls. That isn't going to be a tech camp...

  • I attended the iD tech camp at the University of Minnesota when I was like 10 or 11. It was one of the funnest camps I've ever been to and really sparked my interest in computers and science. I'd recommend them because the iD program is nationwide and all their camps are really fun.
  • Camp Watonka.
    http://www.watonka.com/cgi-local/wpage [watonka.com]

    I am making the assumption that you're male (which I realize may be incorrect); the camp is boys-only. It's a neat place with a very particular subculture. I spent 4 summers there when I was a little younger;. there were the best summers of my teenage life. They are very welcoming of teens from other countries (my last year there we had a guy, Eisa, straight off the plane from Japan. He spoke little English. We spoke zero Japanese. We made it work beca
    • Came here to say this.

      I went for four years in the mid '80's, and had a great time every year. Everything from model rocketry, to robotics (building Hero), to Pascal. (Mid '80's, remember...). And the games of Capture The Flag that were held in the forest are still some of my best memories...

  • When I was your age I was in a similar boat. I went to the Hillsdale Science Camp [hillsdale.edu] for two or three summers -- I loved it, and can speak very highly for it. Definitely worth checking out!
  • This is the 21st century. "Computer camp" means getting involved in an open source project from the comfort of your basement.

    If you want to come to summer camp in the U.S., by all means do it. You'll have a blast! But if you find aspiring young programmers in camp, it'll be sheer coincidence. Camp isn't where young programmers go to aspire.

  • Sandusky's judge [theintelhub.com] recommends The Second Mile [thesecondmile.org].
  • Seriously. Work for an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) this summer.

    Better yet, if you're really adventurous (since you're going to be 15), get an internship at CRS4 - a really neat place in Sardinia (Sardegna) about 25 miles from Cagliari. Sardegna is an incredibly beautiful place (I lived there for a few years, but up north in Sassari.)

    http://www.crs4.it/ [crs4.it]

    There are probably exchange parents in the area you could stay with.

  • In the US we have a concept called "community colleges". They're often more community oriented than a large university and offer many two-year degree programs. Anyway, community college classes can be easier than university classes. I'm not sure if there's something like that in your country, but how about enrolling in a college class in the summer? Most summer semesters are much shorter. You'll probably find the structure of the classes much more appealing than the school you're in right now. You won

  • I used to work at the Institute for Quantum Computing (http://iqc.uwaterloo.ca) in Waterloo, ON, Canada.

    They offer a summer program called QCSYS for deserving high school students. You should check it out: http://iqc.uwaterloo.ca/conferences/qcsys2012 [uwaterloo.ca]

  • Back in the 80s, I attended National Computer Camp [nccamp.com] (please don't hold the web design against them) where I got my first real taste of coding. My daughter attended last summer and it is still an amazing environment run by its founder, Dr. Zabinski. Of course, they continue to update lessons [nccamp.com] to keep up with modern technology. They cater to all levels of programming so if that's your thing, you will definitely not be bored. There's a lot of time given to creative computing and gaming. They're pretty flexible a

  • Take a white water kayaking course, and figure out what physics is for.
    Nobody under the age of 25 should spend their 'recreational time' doing something to purposely advance their careers or anything so stupidly dull. Secondly, you will learn more by doing something real than hiding in a nerd lounge.
    Perhaps most importantly, young people should seek out experiences that cause extreme emotional sensations as a way to build up the emotional muscle they need for real life. Thrill seeking, adventure, or if

  • If you think you can cut it, try SSP [summerscience.org]. It's a heavy-duty course on astrophysics and mathematics with some applied programming. If you plan to apply to a top tech school like MIT, Caltech, or Harvey Mudd (the vast majority of the alumni when I attended went on to those schools), it's a pretty representative of what you can expect in terms of class/study/sleep schedule (meaning very little sleep). The material is first or second year college level, and (assuming they haven't changed the program) goes very i
  • There are TONS of community colleges through out the United States. Most of them offer some sort of education enrichment courses that pretty much mirror what you are asking for. When I was a kid, my local community college (Rock Valley Community College), offered a program called Whiz Kids (this program is still run, but I believe under a different marketing name). I took classes on computer programming, robotics, electronics, and rocketry. These were classes that were designed for junior-college studen

  • You need to google it. It's aviation oriented, but there are workshops where you get to build things too using a variety of tools and materials. My local EAA chapter gets enough YE points to sponsor a couple kids each year and we have them come back to give a report in the fall. Every one of them has had an awesome time.
  • I don't know about what's available in the U.S., but perhaps going to Canada would be an alternative? Vancouver is a very nice city, and there's Science AL!VE [sciencealive.ca] program at Simon Fraser University, run by student volunteers. I've heard some praises of it.

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.