HooverCodes: Lessons Learned From Running a Virtual Coding Camp
What HooverCodes is, what went wrong, and the lessons a 14-year-old founder learned from it.
My name is Shaams Nur and I’m a rising sophomore at Hoover High School.
One day in the fall of 2019, my friends and I were eating lunch and reminiscing on the good ole days of elementary school, back when we didn’t have to think about our GPAs and AP exams.
“What was that website we used to build our own games with back in elementary school?” I say, popping another crispito bite into my mouth.
“Scratch,” Leo replies, setting down his Oreos.
“Do kids still use that?” I ask.
“Yeah, I still use it sometimes,” Leo says.
“Bro, why do you still use it? It’s designed for 2nd graders,” Victor, his twin brother, says.
“Sometimes I like to go back and see the stuff I made,” Leo shrugs.
“What do you think about starting a summer camp where we teach kids how to program using Scratch? Do you think people would be interested?” I ask.
“I think so. Maybe we can even get parents to pay for it,” Victor reaches for Leo’s Oreos.
“Maybe,” I say shrugging.
Leo slaps away Victor’s hand. “Dude, Mom packed you your own Oreos,”
What is HooverCodes
Six months later, Leo, Victor, and I started HooverCodes, a virtual summer camp designed to teach kids programming skills, as well as the history and applications of coding. We launched in early June and had more than 40 HooverCoders attend our week-long camp.
HooverCodes took place every day from June 8–12 at 12:30–3:30 p.m. Central Time via Zoom. About half of the HooverCoders programmed games while the other half made animations. On the last day, we brought in two judges with backgrounds in computer science who evaluated the students’ projects based on creativity, neatness, and functionality. The students made all sorts of games ranging from platformers (similar to Super Mario) to 1v1s. Stories and Scratch tutorials were also very popular animation topics. The prize for the…