There are a wide variety of themed summer camp programs out there for kids. Sports camps abound, as do music camps, church camps, art camps, and more. But one Portland, Oregon-based summer program may have farther reaching effects for young students.
App Camp for Girls, the brainchild of Smile software developer and partner Jean MacDonald, focuses on introducing girls to the highly competitive field of mobile app development. During the week-long camp, participants will learn the basics of what goes into app development and produce a marketable app that will be available on the iOS platform. Funded by an ambitious IndieGoGo campaign that exceeded its original $50,000 goal, App Camp for Girls is a way to break down some of the gender bias in the industry while also addressing the common perception that software technology is a “boy hobby.”
In an interview with GoodEReader, MacDonald explained the logic that first put this concept in motion for her. “It’s really obvious that there are hardly any women doing this important job. I just felt like I needed to do something about it. There was a light bulb moment, when I was at a conference looking at a sea of almost all male faces.”
MacDonald has previous experience in recognizing the impact that girl empowerment can have, not just in the horrifically under-represented STEM career fields, but in other aspects of society. The idea for the camp came from her previous volunteer experience with helping girls develop interests in areas that were once considered male-dominated.
“I’m a volunteer at the rock and roll camp for girls where the girls learn an instrument, form a band, and perform a concert, all in one week, so I knew that something really ambitious could be done.”
The idea for App Camp for Girls took off and has the support of some well-known industry professionals, like Matt Mullenweg of WordPress and John Gruber of Daring Fireball. So far, the interest in the came has astonished even MacDonald, who said next week’s beta run of the camp had more than double the number of seats available to register, as did the full-launch session later this summer, all from simply announcing it on Facebook.
“The response to it has been overwhelming. It’s amazing how much people want to grow this program. Our goal is to grow this beyond Portland, and we’re looking at where we can go next. The plan is to launch at least one more city next summer.”