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August 12, 2015 06:09 PM

Kids Learn New Skills At Coding Camp

sioux falls, sd

A typical summer camp involves a lot of fresh air and outdoor activity, but imagine camping around a computer creating code. Sound boring? Wait until you see what the kids make with that code.

"Remember that first day when I said that our animations... we don't want Mario jumping like this across the screen. We want him to go animation one, animation two, step, animation one, animation two, step," camp counselor Brad Hartzler said.

It may look simple for these kids, but they aren't "playing" a video game, just trying to clear a level.  Instead they're creating their own game, creating their own level.

"There's certain steps, putting a background in, building layouts, and there's coding that you have to build and put in," camper John Dekkenga said.

Dekkenga created his own version of a "breakout game."

"It's called bricks. We programmed it to... right when the ball hits the blocks, it breaks the block and there are different power-ups. This gets smaller, so when I hit this, the ball gets bigger. You just try to keep the ball in the air," Dekkenga said

"The name of the camp is Gaming Boot Camp. What we're learning is, we're learning about the 'Construct 2' platform. So they're actually building a physically-working game," Hartzler said.

Don't let the games fool you; the rewards of code camp go beyond the rewards on the screen.

"They're learning how to interact with software. They're learning how they can take lines of code and they can make the computer actually create something for them," Hartzler said.

"When I click it, it will shoot out a pig and the goal is to knock the apple down or destroy the blocks," camper Isaac Reiner said.

Reiner wanted to make a new version of a popular game, but make it easier to win.

"I really like this Angry Birds thing that I created. We built blocks where there are clicking birds and they explode. You're trying to get our 'sprite' or character down to the bottom," Reiner said.

The code campers know it's hard to get a job designing video games, but still hope to use their skills to eventually start a career.

"I want to work at Microsoft or Google and be an engineer and make apps for them," Dekkenga said.

Others, not so much.

"I'd like my hobby to be this, but I think I'm going to be an actor when I grow up," Reiner said.
All of the campers say it was fun trying to "code" the next great video game.

"It's like when you use your creativity to build something cool," Reiner said.

This was the first year for the camp. If enough kids are interested, it could be held again next year.

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