As appeared in the The Sunnyvale Sun- article about our CA camps held at Stanford

Digital Kids: Summer camp teaches kids how to create iPhone apps, video games and more

By Alia Wilson

After rocketing off a jump and shooting into the sky, a race car lands sharply back on a track with turns and loops, not unlike something from a Hot Wheels commercial.

The creation is straight out of the imagination of 11-year-old Cameron Mungall of Sunnyvale, who’s one of hundreds of students ages 7 to 17 participating in iD Tech Camps held at Stanford University this summer.

Founded by the company internalDrive in Silicon Valley, iD Tech Camps are week-long sessions for beginner to advanced students at 60 universities throughout the nation. Students can sign up for a particular course, where they can create iPhone apps, robots, video games, websites, C++ and Java™ programs, movies and more. Campers complete a project by the end of the week using the latest tech products, such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Final Cut Pro and others.

“We get to do a lot of things and we get to do them freely,” Cameron said. “The instructor is really nice and he doesn’t limit us that much.”

Students in the 3D Game Design Course Racing Games are led by instructor Cal “Hops” Wasylowich, a 2D and 3D animation student at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario.

“They’re programming without even knowing it,” Wasylowich said. “I’m more than happy to show them how to do more advanced things, but I encourage them to learn through playing with the program and let them figure it out on their own.”

It’s not uncommon for students of the camp to not only become more tech savvy, but to take their newly acquired skills back to school and beyond.

One student developed several iPhone apps, which were featured in The New York Times, and had a high school research internship in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another student now works for Electronic Arts as an after effects editor, and another became art chief for her school’s literary magazine.

“The thing that draws me back year after year is being able to see a whole new generation picking up on these software programs,” said Emily Lindsay, director of the Stanford location. “It’s a really cool set-up. Just the sheer size of the Stanford location means there are so many opportunities to meet more people and learn from each other. Seeing so many people with such similar interests and sharing them is what we really get excited about.”

The camp is celebrating its 13th year with more than 120,000 students who have participated. Not only do students and instructors come from Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Mountain View, Saratoga and Palo Alto, but also from abroad. Some have come from as far as Japan, Taiwan, Egypt and England.

“We’re teaching kids important skills that are important in the 21st century in a fun environment,” said Karen Thurm Safran of iD Tech Camps. “They’re taking something that started as a passion and taking it a step further.”

The older and more experienced students get, the more intensive courses become available, including the iD Gaming, Programming and Visual Arts academies. Students can learn first-hand from industry professionals in Silicon Valley on how to create commercial video games for the Xbox 360 or apps for Google Androids.