In the last few weeks of my summer vacation, I went to the ID Tech Camp at UCLA. It was a coding camp and honestly I wasn’t excited to spend the last weeks of summer at a camp learning how to code. Plus, you were advised not to bring any technology with you, so I had to leave my phone at home. Despite my reluctance, I went to the camp and hoped for a worthwhile end to my summer.
Once I was finished unpacking in my dorm, I went downstairs to the lobby where the head instructor explained the rules and introduced the instructors. All the instructors had goofy names for themselves like KitKat or Asimov, which kind of made the camp feel more comfortable and released the tension. After the introduction, we went to the dining hall. Although awkward finding a seat, the food made up for it. I remember by the end of dinner I had finished about 6 plates of food.
After eating, the instructors gave us three hours of free time before going to bed at 10. My roommates and I used these three hours to play cards or use the Wii in the lounge. By the time I was in bed, I was relieved that the camp was not a hardcore one where they had strict rules. This camp was more relaxed and gave campers choices on what they wanted to do.
On the second day of the camp, we walked to the labs. There we were divided into groups for each class we were taking. There were a variety of classes like Modding in Minecraft or Cyber Security. I took Building Your Own Laptop and C++. The instructors were really chill and understood that coding was new for a lot of campers, including me. Often they would go one-on-one with us which improved my coding confidence. The instructors gave lectures, but also gave us many breaks, which I appreciated greatly. Learning to code and chilling at the dorms was the usual routine at the camp.
The weekends at the camp were awesome. There were a lot fewer weekend campers so we could travel around easier. So instead of eating at the dining hall, we ate at restaurants. Instead of just playing cards, we went to see a movie and even went to the pier. Spending those days at the movies or at the beach were so much more better than just sitting on my bed scrolling through my Instagram feed. I realized why the ID Tech didn’t want campers to bring their phones. If we campers had taken a phone or laptop to the camp, we would just be staring at screens the whole day. The camp’s goal was to let the campers have genuine interactions with each other without having a screen block their abilities to make connections.
In the end, those two weeks of camp were the pinnacle of my summer because they were productive and fun. I think that the camp understood us campers understanding that it was summer and that most of us were being forced to come to the camp. They wanted us to learn and have a good time, but also showed that you don’t need a phone to have fun.