Summer Computer Camp Serbia, TEDxYouth 2012.

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Theodor's speech at TEDxYouth Belgrade, 2012.

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  • When our parents were kids, they wanted to be pirates or astronauts. Today, it’s a bit different, pirates and astronauts are being replaced with videogame programmers.The future is in Informatics Technology, and the future belogns to the kids, we all know that.
  • The problem that needs to be solved soon, as soon as possible, is the lack of quality IT education in schools. I talk from experience when I say that Informatics class in primary school consists of mentioning Word and Excell, maybe once or twice, and that’s basically it as far as IT goes. The rest of the classes, which are once every two weeks, 90% of the kids spend playing games and surfing the web.As far as High school goes, it’s not as bad as primary school, but it has a few flaws concerning the content. More attention is given to the theoretical part in the first two years. We learn everything we should have actually learned in primary schools, the basic computer skills we need.Schools keep a certain distance from absolute inovations by default. Same goes for experiments and tests, reason being the required time, at least two years, for the inovation to be proven as a good one. That’s understandable. Until new technologies get approved and insterted into the plan and programme of the school, they’re not even new technologies any more, and we get the impression that schools still see the computer as a typing machine.
  • Where is the solution to this problem? Can the problem be resolved by gamification?Expert’s opinions about the usefulness of playing games in a child’s development stages are varied. However that doesn’t mean we should separate kids from videogames entirely. The solution to this is to show children how many good programs there are and all the cool news in ICT. Many kids never even heard of such awesome programmes, and when we show them some of them, kids say “Wow, I didn’t even knew this exists and that it’s so fun.”I’m glad when I run into a peer that is interested in more than shooting games and facebook. It’s a rarity to hear someone list a few programmes they know, are currently learning or even want to learn. As youth, we’re ignorant to everything there is and what can be done on computers, but there’s no one to point the right way. When the school isn’t taking on that task, and kids know more than their parents and teachers about computers, whose role is it to pose these questions and give anwsers? How to bring inovation into solutions for these problems? How to give motivation to children and youth? That’s where CompCamp comes into the story.
  • The computer camp for kids is something completely new In our areas, a summer camp in which children and youth learn useful things on computers. Now you’re thinking “Oh man, the last thing we need is kids to spend even more time on the computer”What we do is the opposite, we not only try to show kids how to get around in their virtual world, but also that there is a world outside the boundaries of the computer monitor.In camp, we learn how to make games, not just play them.
  • It started in the summer of 2007 when my mom told me I should go to a summer camp. I didn’t want to go to the seaside, I didn’t want to go any sports camp and me and my computer were inseperable. However, there wasn’t a computer camp anywhere in Serbia. I cried and cried and without thinking, told my mom, who at the time had her IT school: “Mom, cmon, why don’t you make me one of those computer camps”When mom analyzed the existing computer camps for kids in the world and the situation of child education in Serbia, she realized that that wasn’t such a bad idea.
  • In march 2008, my mom Radoslava founded CompCamp. At the time, I was too young for my name to be on any official papers, but to this day, after 5 years, she still claims that I was the one who really started the camp.
  • During the 12 days in camp, kids not only learn how to program, but also all the things they would learn in any other summer camp: How to live with 3-4 friends in the same room, how to be independent and adapt to a life outside of their home and away from mom and dad, how to enjoy nature and natural environment. When the city kids come to camp, which is always based in a rural area, they’re amazed at the beauty of new surroundings. In camp, they get confidence. They’re allowed the idea of boarding a train to Hogwarts and go from reality to fictinon, children find a world full of opportunities that they can’t have in their everyday life.The reason kids react so positively to nature isn’t a mistery or a riddle. The environment, fresh air and village ideal, everyone likes that, only they haven’t had the chance to see it in such a way. If you send your kid with a group of people into the forrest for 10 days, it probably won’t react positively, it’s going to come running home. When computers are around, they still feel like their home, next to their pet, leaving them more relaxed and able to enjoy the nature. They’re often sad when it’s time to go home.
  • In camp, we mostly focus on programmes that are used to make videogames, because it’s the most interesting thing for kids our age. The programmes we work in, I’ll just list a few kids’ favourites: Blender, a programme for 3D modeling, MMF2D, our favourite programme that’s used to make games, Unity 3D, Flash, Google SketchUp, are just some of the many programmes we work with. Every year we keep adding more programs to preserve variety.Why did we pick making games for something basic in camp? Simple, kids love videogames. And sooner or later, after playing all those games, a kid will ask himself “Who, and how did he make this?”. It’s a child’s dream, like when a little kid says “I wanna be a fireman”. Dolls and toys aren’t all the rage anymore, everything turned virtual, even for kids. It’s not true that children lost their creativity because they don’t assemble Legos anymore, we see the quite the contrary in camp. Kids are much more creative when they see the massive amounts of games you can make. They use the many games they played as an example for that. You will run out of legos after a while, but you won’t run out of ideas for videogames. In camp we give children the chance to see just how it’s all made, in a way, to live out their dream, and they’re always overjoyed with the experience they get.When they come back home, the computer becomes a useful tool, and they feel their self-confidence and independence. That is our goal, after all.
  • I’ve been a teacher in the camp for three years, teaching four programs.Our way of teaching is very different from school classes. Everything is in a relaxed, interactive atmosphere. When kids have a teacher their own age, like me, transfering knowledge about a certain software, it’s much easier to absorve that knowledge. Children also use this as a model, now they can help their friend learn something as well. That often happens, too. After a few classes, I’m almost left jobless because all the problems get solved between the kids. I would also like to specially mention veterans, kids, well, not kids anymore, that come back even after 5 years to help in teaching the kids as volunteers.
  • We’re very proud of our guests that visit camp every year. They inlclude famous scientists, creators, engineers, educators and experts from all kinds of fields (Astonomy, Robotics, the game industry, software and antivirus engineering, prevention of dangers and addictions to computers).Some of our more famous guests include Entera from Belgrade, Singi Engineering, Eipix, the Faculty of Science-Department of Physics and Astronomy and more.
  • Some numbers that show the success of CompCamp so far:500 kids from all over the world (USA, Canada, UK, Qatar, Switzerland, Russia) passed trough our camp in 5 years!They were picked up from camp by 1000 satisfied parents!Every child made at least one, and often more games, around 800 during the 5 years.One more great indicator of success is the support CompCamp gets from famous great companies, like Google(who sent us 6 free gift licences for Google SketchUp Pro), Comtrade, Parallax, Clickteam and over 20 more.In june this year, our project was also nominated for the European Commision’s e-Inclusion awards.
  • Some numbers that show the success of CompCamp so far:500 kids from all over the world (USA, Canada, UK, Qatar, Switzerland, Russia) passed trough our camp in 5 years!They were picked up from camp by 1000 satisfied parents!Every child made at least one, and often more games, around 800 during the 5 years.One more great indicator of success is the support CompCamp gets from famous great companies, like Google(who sent us 6 free gift licences for Google SketchUp Pro), Comtrade, Parallax, Clickteam and over 20 more.In june this year, our project was also nominated for the European Commision’s e-Inclusion awards.
  • Some numbers that show the success of CompCamp so far:500 kids from all over the world (USA, Canada, UK, Qatar, Switzerland, Russia) passed trough our camp in 5 years!They were picked up from camp by 1000 satisfied parents!Every child made at least one, and often more games, around 800 during the 5 years.One more great indicator of success is the support CompCamp gets from famous great companies, like Google(who sent us 6 free gift licences for Google SketchUp Pro), Comtrade, Parallax, Clickteam and over 20 more.In june this year, our project was also nominated for the European Commision’s e-Inclusion awards.
  • Our location has shifted in the past 5 years, but was always somewhere in a rural, village environment, away from the city crowds.Moving from place to place wasn’t the most amusing thing we did in camp, computers are heavy. That’s why we have a goal, a dream, to settle in one place, where camp can be held every summer, between various IT and children and youth events all through the year.That dream is named the Kids’ Digital Village, a complex of bungalowes around a main building with a computer classroom, should be something that children can inherit in the very near future.So, our goal is not only to leave the camp for future generations, but to expand it around the world. CompCamp isn’t a mega-organization that needs millions and millions to be realized, this camp that we have now can be created in every part of Serbia, even China, Norway or any other country in the world (Except America, they have enough computer camps already).
  • Who do we leave all this to? Listen to kids, they’re the ones that make the future move.The overall experience of camp is incredible, undescribable. Summer camp is something you remember your whole life! If you were in a summer camp at least once, you know this. Friends from camp last forever, experiences are the best and I hope that after this talk, you can imagine at least a part of it.
  • Summer Computer Camp Serbia, TEDxYouth 2012.

    1. 1. + COMP CAMP TEODOR SANDEL-KONJEVIĆ
    2. 2. + Well, I can’t play games on this…
    3. 3. + I can… make games on this?
    4. 4. + Make games, don’t just play them
    5. 5. + Mom, why don’t you make me one of those computer camps!
    6. 6. +
    7. 7. + Nature…
    8. 8. + “I made this!”
    9. 9. + Hard at work!
    10. 10. +
    11. 11. +  500 kids
    12. 12. +  500 kids  1000 satisfied parents
    13. 13. +  500 kids  1000 satisfied parents  800 games
    14. 14. + Kids’ Digital Village
    15. 15. +

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