At Maker Camp, Kids Stay Home And Attend Online With Google+

By July 18, 2012

Image: MAKE Magazine

Later this summer, kids aged 13 to 18 will go to a camp with a diverse curriculum that includes model rocketry, experimental music production and DIY t-shirts. But instead of sleeping in a cabin in the woods, participants at the first Maker Camp will attend over the Internet using Google+.

The camp, which is organized by MAKE Magazine, encourages parents and teachers to join in on the kinda-cool yet sorta-lonely venture as well. Celebrities who will be featured at the camp include Dirty Money co-host Jimmi DiResta and the “Coke and Mentos guys.”

“Making is a wonderful way to experiment and explore, to try to do new things, and mostly to let your imagination get the best of you,” wrote MAKE publisher Dale Dougherty, on the Google blog. “Making is fun (and it’s also a great way to learn, even if it is summer!). Making can be done indoors—even in a small space, like a kitchen table—but it’s also great to go outdoors to make things you can play with in the backyard or park.”

MAKE Magazine, which got its start in the mid-2000s and is edited by BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder, will incorporate content from its recent, inaugural “School’s Out” issue.

The camp sounds like a blast — especially the Coke and Mentos part — but the social aspect still rings a little hollow.

“It wouldn’t be summer camp unless you were able to meet a lot of great, new friends who share your love of making,” Dougherty wrote. “You’ll find that other campers will inspire you to come up with new ideas for projects.”

Moreover, the interesting notion of the online camp and the clear good intentions behind the educational portion of the initiative do little to offset the feeling that, on Google’s part, it’s another forced attempt to kickstart the stalled Google+, especially among trendsetters and youth.

Perhaps, like the sleepaway camps of olde, Google+ will be a place where some children go no more than once a year, for a short and intense period before returning to the real world for an extended time,  and possibly the rest of their lives.