“What has surprised you about your time at App Camp?” I asked on Thursday during lunch.
There was no hesitation.
“Sometimes, we go to coding classes at the library. They just give us a sheet of paper and we type what’s on the paper into the computer and then we have a program. But it’s not like that here! I didn’t know our teams would come up with our own apps and figure out the code for them!”
Other kids at the table agreed.
“I didn’t know that we’d get to draw!” another said.
“I really like writing the questions that are going in my team’s choose-your-own-story app,” said a third.
“Did you know that you could do so many things and still work in the tech industry if you want to?” I asked.
“Nope,” they replied, “I might want to work in tech now!”
In 2015, I wrote about why I support and volunteer with App Camp for Girls. If I were to write that post today, it would basically be the same. The only difference now is that I have practical experience with the program. Since I wrote that post I’ve volunteered at two camp sessions and organized another two.
I’ve had a front-row seat to see how App Camp impacts lives.
On the first day of camp (always a Monday) we have the kids take a survey as soon as they walk in the door. One of the questions on the survey asks them why they’re attending App Camp. Overwhelmingly, the response is that their guardian made the choice for them.
By Wednesday, most of them are all-in. By Friday, the last day of camp, over 90% of our attendees say they’d recommend camp to a friend. Over 75% of them want to come back the next year as interns to help new teams discover the joys of app development.
In Portland, where App Camp has existed the longest, some kids have come back year after year. Some have started tech-oriented clubs in their schools, some have lead their own teams at App Camp, and some are training to be the Lead Developer–the person who teaches programming principles, walks attendees through programming, and is the go-to person for Swift questions.
The impact on kids is important and is, for me, what makes the challenge of organizing worthwhile. Beyond that, though, there’s a huge impact on the lives of the volunteers at camp. Several have been inspired to learn Objective-C and Swift and begin careers as app developers. We’ve helped one another find jobs, celebrated life events, and mourned losses together. I’ve made some of the most amazing friends because of App Camp.
App Camp is currently in the middle of its third Indiegogo campaign. Our goal is to raise the funds we need to expand to three more cities over the next three years, for a total of eight cities. When we get those three camps established, it’ll mean sixty more kids will get to go through camp every year.
I’d love it if you’d consider donating. Indiegogo accepts Apple Pay, which makes contributing really easy. Whether you can contribute a few dollars or a few hundred dollars, your support is invaluable to us. Plus, App Camp is a registered nonprofit in the US, so US-based donations are tax-deductible (minus the cost of your perk)!
More than that, though, would you tell people about the campaign? Post to social media, email friends and relatives who may be interested, tell your coworkers, shout it from a rooftop….
Your money and your help spreading the word will make a world of difference for even more kids!