Now in its fifth year, Maker Camp has become a regular part of the summer scene for students, teachers, parents, and makers across the globe.

Based online, Maker Camp could be just a suggestion, a chimera, a virtual place to go and glean ideas. But from its aspirational concept has sprung a solid and tightly knit community that gathers to make, share, learn, and yes — fail — together.

Because while the bones of Maker Camp are online, the living spirit of it is in our kids, our camps, and our affiliates. With nearly 800 affiliate camps registered, this summer promises to be our most robust one yet.

Exploring projects we suggest and those they find elsewhere, Maker Camp affiliates are using libraries, community centers, 4-H Club facilities, Boys and Girls Club centers, parks, and homes to gather offline and learn while they build together.

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Collaborating on flight in Pakistan.

In past years, Maker Camp has been a process requiring participants to follow along at the pace we set through videos, live presentations, and “unlocked” projects that were controlled by our calendar.

This year, we broke the builds out into paths that allow kids to choose projects based on their own interests and materials available to them. All of our projects this year were placed online all at once to allow for browsing and choosing and most of all — to make it easy to join Maker Camp at any time.

While we stress the IRL nature of Maker Camp, being able to digitally connect with makers around the world is one of the true pleasures of this program. We use the #MakerCamp hashtag to gather and continue to be amazed at the variety of projects and the excellence of the kids building them.

It also allows us to get a sense of the breadth of participation. A new affiliate based on the Nez Perce reservation in Kamiah, ID, is joining for the first time, having received two grants to purchase supplies for 50 kids. “I am excited but nervous,” reports the affiliate leader.

Making things adorable in Poway, CA!

There are groups in Pakistan and in Israel, in unincorporated parts of California, and in New Jersey. There are camps in China and Finland, Ghana and South Yorkshire. And there’s no way we could have reached this kind of large community on our own.

As a supporter of Maker Camps, AT&T helped fund the kits that some affiliate groups received at the season’s start. These kits give a hand up to students who might not otherwise have access to materials that ensure a fun summer of making.

“Maker Camps help kids explore their world, participate in hands on problem-solving, and create new things. These are important skills, especially for STEM careers,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of social innovation at AT&T. “AT&T wholeheartedly supports Make:’s mission to engage all kids in active play year-round. It is critical to the development of the future workforce.”

Additional sponsors include DK Publishing, which has offered a great set of bonus projects, and Disney, which has something special for Maker Camp participants planned for the fall!

Maker Camp

Tending animals of a different kind at Dixie 4H!

Over the coming summer weeks, we’ll explore the various project paths available for Maker Camp participants, including:

  • Light it Up: Paper-based projects that experiment with LEDs and circuits
  • Make it Sing: Exploring all of the different ways to create sound
  • Paint with Light: Use photography techniques, LEDs, and other cool ways to illuminate
  • Give it Form: Experiment with modeling, sculpting, and other 3D fabrication techniques
  • Change the Move: Build art-making machines, make things move, and more
  • Sew the Circuits: Express your personality through sewable electronics

Each of our projects is ready for you to tackle whenever you’re ready. All that we ask is that you share the results with our communities on Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the #MakerCamp hashtag. And all we can guarantee is that it’s becoming a very good summer, indeed.

Welcome to Maker Camp!