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Guest Blogger: Carmen SanDiego

girls who code at laptop id tech camp

As you may or may not know, I run an incentive program for the staff members of iD Tech called “Nachos,” wherein I challenge the staff to go above and beyond on a daily basis. “The Blogger” is one of my Nachos and it states “Write an essay (at least 5 well-written paragraphs) about your experience about camp.”

Carmen SanDiego from Emory University shared this essay on the forum just the other day and I want to share it with you!

internalDrive: BEST JOB EVER

By Carmen SanDiego

Being an instructor at iD Tech camps is the best job I have ever had. I love the staff, I love the kids, I love the subject matter, I love the activities… I could go on forever. This is my second year at iD, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. From animation to games to robotics this camp encompasses most of my interests, and it has been an absolute blast.

I started working at iD Tech camps last summer, having applied last-minute after all of the internships I applied for had fallen through. I was in a frantic search for a summer job to get me out of the house, and I had already decided not to return to the Amazon warehouse job I held the previous summer unless I absolutely had to. That was an okay job, but warehouse work is grueling and boring. Then I remembered the camp I went to in 2005 and 2006; Camp CAEN at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is one of the reasons I went into animation in the first place, and I wanted to be that facilitator for other young minds. Unfortunately, Camp CAEN stopped in 2009, so I had to look elsewhere – which fortunately led me to iD Tech after a Google search of “awesome computer camps!”

Last summer I was an instructor at Carnegie Mellon teaching mostly Maya, this year I am at Emory teaching mostly Adventures in Robotics. They have been very different experiences and both have had their ups and downs. At Carnegie Mellon (CMU) we had a much smaller camp than we do at Emory. We had about five instructors, one lead instructor, and our director. Our cafeteria was pretty close to the labs, there was a field right out the back of the labs, and the dorm was just across the street. The Quad was right near us too. Unfortunately the lack of air-conditioning in the dorms made it somewhat hard to sleep, and that was the dealbreaker for when I applied to campuses this year. I also wanted to stay closer to my college, and Atlanta is only four hours north of SCAD-Savannah, so Emory was the ideal spot.

Here at Emory, we have about eleven instructors, plus two leads and our assistant director and director. We have three buildings for dorms, classes, and recreation, and just under 100 campers every week. We share the cafeteria with a lot of other camps, and it’s quite a walk away. The field is a ways away too, and that is also shared with numerous other camps. That being said, I love the campus (Emory is beautiful) and it’s easier to keep track of this many campers than I had anticipated. The AC in the dorms is blissful, and as the dorms’ common areas double as the labs, we don’t have much travel at night to get back to our rooms.

The difference in teaching age groups is quite a change as well. I was with mostly teens last summer, so I was used to a certain level of maturity and quiet. Enter the preteens. Legos flying everywhere, hidden in the weirdest of places throughout the labs. Extremely loud “inside” voices. Everyone wanting the same piece or having differing opinions about how the robots should be built. Needless to say, the first week of Adventures in Robotics with the 8-12 year olds was quite a reality check. Once we laid down the law however, things calmed substantially. Now it’s a blast working with them, seeing what my AROB kids are capable of. This past week we had two working guitars and new lyrics to Eye of the Tiger, which they sang on video! They collaborated to make a six-motor tank, which requires two of the four available Lego Mindstorms brains! We had a working turret two weeks ago, that sensed when an object was close and shot lego bits at it! One of my kids last week is determined to start a robot club at his school! The minds of these kids are fantastic, and I feel truly blessed to be a part of their lives and education.

iD Tech truly is an amazing camp, and being an instructor here is the best job ever. It’s not just something we say at training, it’s something we say throughout the summer, throughout the year, and it’s nothing but the truth. I know this camp is changing lives, and I am proud to be a part of it.