Ahhh… the dog days of summer. Lazy afternoons slurping on Slurpees, following boys around at an air-conditioned mall, and completely forgetting everything you learned during the last three months……

Or not.

Or not even close!

How about a week of cracking the code behind the coolest websites, field trips to Google, and creating games that you probably can’t play at the cottage (unless you have wifi)?

This summer, the luminaries behind Toronto’s Ladies Learning Code will run a series of summer camps for girls aged 9 – 13. Ladies Learning Code works to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-friendly technical skills in a social, collaborative way. Toronto parents are spoiled for choice when it comes to camping options, with options ranging from high art to high performance sports. New to the mix is Girls Learning Code, which immerses keen young females in the technology arts through mentorship, hands on learning, and building skills that tranfer to all manners of self-expression.

Laura Plant
Laura Plant: Lady Learning Code
I recently caught up with Laura Plant, a Director with Ladies Learning Code, to get the scoop on this cool camp opportunity. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

1. Ladies Learning Code has picked up a ton of accolades in the last year (yay!). What is the inspiration behind extending the learning to young girls in your upcoming Summer Camps?

When we first started Ladies Learning Code, we did so out of our own desire to find a learning environment that was beginner friendly and non-intimidating, where we could learn computer programming and design skills that were relevant to our own interests. We quickly learned that there are a lot of other women seeking the same thing. The support of Toronto’s tech community quickly taught us that there is a common eagerness to see more women in the field of technology; tech companies indeed recognize the value of more women and more gender-diverse teams. In order to support this goal, we began taking initiative to provide opportunities to girls, that we never had as girls, to become inspired into a world of technology – not just as consumers, but as builders. It is these girls who are going to close the gender gap in the tech industry in the future. That is why Girls Learning Code, Toronto’s only tech camp for girls, exists.

2. The content of the camps certainly looks amazing, and it’s great that you’ve incorporated field trips. Can you talk about any of the places or people that campers can expect to meet?

Google! Our field trip to Google in March was a highlight for some of the girls. There are some cool field trips happening at our summer camp as well, but it is a surprise!

3. What are the main transferable skills that campers will be able to take back home or to school in the fall? How does this help girls start to build a digital portfolio?

The main purpose of the camp is meant to inspire the girls to see technology as something that can help them be creative and do world changing things. They will learn some HTML and CSS using Mozilla’s Hackasaurus tool and how to build games using MIT’s Scratch, and much more. The girls will leave with strengthened technical savvy and instinct as well as a general comfortability with trying new things on the web. We want to help girls:
1. Discover a passion for learning about technology
2. Experience the satisfaction that comes from being a builder – not just consumer – of the web and technology
3. Become more confident and self-assured
4. Develop a willingness to try new things
5. Increase their knowledge of technology-related careers

…all while having fun!

4. The camps are priced a little more on the expensive side, so can you talk about the scholarship program?

Our goal is to offer as many partial and full scholarships to girls as possible. The more sponsors we have, the more accessible we can make the camp. We are very much interested in more sponsors so we can make this happen and our sponsorship package is posted on our website. Currently we have a number of scholarships available. Parents and girls can apply and tell us why they are interested in participating in Girls Learning Code summer camp.

5. Are you looking for helpers? Mentors? Volunteers? How can people get involved if they want to help?

We are looking for a few more in August. Tech-savvy women and girls who are interested in volunteering for the week can email me!

Girls Learning Code is sure to be a summer smash, and we look forward to following the success of the initiative.