beanz Magazine

9 Important Questions Parents Forget to Ask When Choosing a Tech Camp

CodaKid

It's almost time to think about summer tech camps if your kids are interested. Here are a few questions to ask.

Choosing a kids tech camp can be tricky, and there are many factors to consider. While most parents ask about price, schedule, and supervision, there are many overlooked questions that can lead to buyer’s remorse. In this article, we cover 9 important questions parents forget to ask when choosing a tech camp.

What is the average student to staff ratio?

Technology is best taught to students in small groups or in classrooms with multiple teachers. Quality tech camps usually have low staff to student ratios of no more than 8 to 1.

How are campers grouped together?

Some camps group students together by age, while others group by skill level. Other camps have large classes that group kids with very wide age ranges which is often not the most effective way to learn. For example, if teachers are teaching 1st graders and 8th graders in the same classroom, the first graders will often feel left behind and the 8th graders will feel that the pace is too slow.

Does the camp use self-paced curriculum or direct instruction?

Many camps use online curricula that allows kids to put on headsets, listen to video tutorials, and move at their own pace. Other camps rely on small group direct instruction and students move together through the lessons. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach, but we greatly prefer direct instruction as the core methodology. Self-paced online courses can generally be taken at home and the headset approach diminishes interaction among campers and affects camp culture.

Does the camp teach text-based code or will do students use visual block or drag and drop platforms?

Many tech camps rely on drag and drop curricula like Code.org, Tynker, and Scratch that do not require experienced engineers in the classroom. Parents who want a more rigorous learning experience should find tech camps that teach kids how to write real code using professional grade tools and environments.

How much time per day will my child spend in front of a screen? What off-computer activities do students participate in?

Most quality tech camps have a balanced approach that includes off-computer activities, sports, treasure hunts, and other team building activities. At CodaKid, we have found that breaking up the day with fun activities and physical exercise increases student focus and retention of information.

What final project will my child walk away with on the last day of camp?

Most high-quality tech camps will allow kids to take home a project, game or app on the final day. We’ve also heard report that some camps don’t do a good enough job informing parents and kids that the robot they built will stay at camp. This can lead to disappointment (and sometimes even tears). It is always a good idea to find out what kids will take home so you can frame expectations before camp begins.

What background checks (if any) does the camp run on camp counselors and staff?

Reputable tech camps always run national criminal background checks on all counselors, teachers, and staff. We strongly recommend that you accept nothing less.

What is the refund/change policy?

Life happens. Kids get sick and urgent family matters can arise. Some camp refund policies are hidden in the fine print, and it is important to learn what they are before booking a camp. Some camps will provide a full refund if the camp is cancelled far in advance while other will charge large administrative fees. Be sure you understand the fine print before signing the contract.

What are the camp’s reviews on Yelp, Google, ActivityHero, and other review sites?

We recommend researching the camp’s reviews on multiple review sites including Yelp, Google, ActivityHero, or other review sites in your area.

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