If you follow me on YouTube (if not, why not? etc), you will have seen a short video of Dexter and I going to London last Friday. We were invited by Fire Tech Camp, to spend the day with them at Imperial College playing Minecraft. Well, Dexter was invited. I was just the chauffeur. It had to be quite possibly the most perfect invitation for Dexter. Which could only be topped by being taken to a Chelsea match.
Anyway, we set off relatively early and made our way up to London. The venue for the London classes is Imperial College, a University primarily focused on science and research and a great inspirational place for children to be around. I love the idea of gently sowing an educational seed into Dexter without him realising!
We were greeted warmly and taken straight up to one of the lecture rooms. We were fashionably late, but thankfully hadn’t missed anything. There were about 20 children there, ranging in ages from 9 to 12.
Now I should point out something. I know nothing about Minecraft. I just listen to Dexter talk about it a lot. I mean A LOT. And then I nod wisely, pretending I know exactly what he’s talking about. I don’t. So if you want to know what he learnt that day, feel free to come and have a chat with him. Seriously. I’d be more than happy to share the load. What I do know is that there was one main tutor looking after the children, with two helpers answering any of the children’s questions. And I’d imagine there were a lot!
I think at this point it might be much more worthwhile if you take a look at Fire Tech Camp website for more specifics about exactly what the children learn.
While I was there, I had a look around one of the other classes that was tutoring older children, aged 12 upwards, in a computer programme called Python. They too were using Minecraft as a platform/world to work in, but were learning a much more advanced way of programming.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jill, who is the founder of Fire Tech Camp, and I found her to be a really inspiring woman. She is American and saw that there was a gap in the UK market for children that perhaps aren’t necessarily as sporty as other children and who are interested in the more geeky side of things. Fire Tech Camp has been running for two years and is only one of a couple of companies that run classes like this in the UK.
I asked her about the price point because at £110 for a five-hour class, I mentioned that I thought that could perhaps alienate some parents that might not be able to afford it. She then relayed this story to me that pretty much made my heart melt. A boy got in touch with her after finding out about Fire Tech Camp online, and he happened to be in care at the time. Via his social worker, he made a short video about how he loved robots and wanted to learn more about them. He asked if she could help. Obviously, money was an issue and so she arranged for him to be given a scholarship so that he’d be able to go. I have to say, I don’t know of any other company that would even consider helping out financially purely because they believe so strongly in giving children the opportunity to learn. So what I’m saying is, if you’re not in a position to pay the full price, please don’t be put off. Talk to Jill and the team and see if you can come to some compromise.
There are several sides to Dexter’s personality but his two main passions in life are football and technology. I’ve got football covered, but until now haven’t really found an outlet for him for him to be able to learn more about computer science. This is what Fire Tech Camp is perfect for.
Courses also run in Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge and Manchester and there is a timetable on their website for you to be able to clearly see what courses are available later on this year. Just to give you some examples, there is Digital Music Production, Coding, Digital Photography, and Web Development. Video Game Design, Mobile App Design etc.
My computer classes at school consisted of learning binary code, and not much else, so to think that I could give Dexter such a head start in this field is amazing. It’s not for everyone, but I do know at least five of his friends that would absolutely love this type of class.
At the end of the day, when I picked him up, I wasn’t sure whether he would have found it is just a bit too much. He didn’t! He came out buzzing and said how much he’d enjoyed it. And trust me, he would definitely let me know if you didn’t.
Will we go back? Funds permitting, definitely. Fire Tech Camp rocks!