Summer of Minecraft and the Magic of Peer Mentorship
Summer Minecraft camps give youth opportunities to engage in something they love while learning from...
I am part of new social venture called Connected Camps (co-founded with my awesome colleagues Mimi Ito and Tara Tiger Brown), which is collaborating with Institute of Play to offer Summer of Minecraft, a month-long online Minecraft camp for kids ages 9-13. The camp is designed to level kids up around their interests and skills in Minecraft, whether they are new to the game, are avid single-player fans, or have tons of experience playing on multiplayer servers. To insure that kids are truly leveling up, developing new skills and interests, Connected Camps has recruited some of the best and brightest teens and college students with impressive Minecraft resumes to manage the camp and moderate the servers, serving as campers’ go-to resource for questions, inspiration, safety, and support. Connected Camps encourages open sharing and remixing of curriculum and projects, and the design of the camp is backed by over a decade of research on how to support creative and collaborative online learning, and the unique learning outcomes of connected learning.
Connected Camps is inviting educators of all levels of Minecraft experience to join the effort. Through the Affiliates Program, educators and organizations from around the world can apply to host Minecraft Camps. You might be part of an organization like the Digital Youth Network, who runs a program for girls called Digital Divas. DYN joined Summer of Minecraft as an Affiliate to try out Minecraft for the first time and enable 50 of their youth to participate in the camp this summer. Affiliates have access to a complete package of facilitator guides and challenges, support from staff and counselors in getting a camp up and running, as well as access to our open online forums and community. An organization can either run a camp on their own schedule in single-player mode or on their own servers, or subscribe for a fee to a Connected Camps moderated server and connect from July 6–August 2 with in-game access to counselors and campers from around the world. There are discounts for large groups, and a limited number of scholarships for programs serving low-income children.
Connected Camps wants to make learning with Minecraft accessible for all youth and all educators with an interest. Many of the affiliates, such as the Los Angeles Public Library, are offering free, low-cost, public and community-based access for underserved youths. Select libraries offer computers, software, and a physical space for kids to login to the camp, as many youth don’t have access to the game at home. This is a great model for scaling learning opportunities for all and there has been an amazing cohort of educators and librarians supporting the camps.
A special “Programming in Minecraft” server will be available for kids interested in learning to code in-game using the Lua programming language. If you’re an educator interested in leveling up the young people you work with around computer programming, joining as an Affiliate might be a wonderful option. Interested in connecting your program to Summer of Minecraft? Connected Camps would love to hear from you!
Last, while there are many educators already doing interesting stuff with Minecraft, there are probably an equal number of the interested but uninitiated. Or maybe you are ready to run a Minecraft camp of your own. If this describes you, then you might want to tune into our Summer of Minecraft Educator Webinar series, running in May. The series will be held across four weeks, with the specific dates TBD, and will cover the following topics:
Please look for the final series schedule on the Affiliates Program page.
By Katie Salen Tekinbaş