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Summer Camp 2.0 - camping moves to the web

Posted by Anna Agishtein, Google Apps Team

Summer vacation is heading into the final stretch, but summer camps are still going strong. At the end of the summers that I spent as a camper, I always came home with new friendships and a renewed sense of confidence – not to mention a lifetime of memories. Here are three summer camps that use technology to make camp more accessible to more kids and create a memorable experience for their campers.

While outdoor adventures are fun, they’re not for everyone. SuperCamp is a camp that's more focused on the classroom, with programs for middle and high school students to increase their grades, confidence and motivation. While living on some of the nation’s most known university campuses like Stanford, Brown and Wake Forest, campers can improve their test taking and studying techniques, practice their writing, develop their communication skills, and more. Starting in 2001, founder Bobbi DePorter wanted to reach more parents whose kids who would benefit from their summer programs, so she turned to her husband Joe, who found that Google AdWords could do just that. Since using AdWords, Joe and Bobbi have seen a 37% increase in camp enrollment, translating to an average return of $14 from every $1 spent on AdWords. By transitioning from traditional marketing techniques to web tools, Bobbi and Joe have grown SuperCamp into a comprehensive program that spans four continents.

For younger kids interested in science and technology, there is a summer camp designed just for them. Ideaventions is a science and technology program in Virginia for kids ages three to thirteen. Husband and wife duo Ryan and Juliana Heitz founded the program in 2010 to encourage kids to pursue their passion for all-things science in a hands-on environment. As the couple personally invested in getting the camp up and running, they needed a cost-effective communications solution, which they found with Google Apps for Business. By choosing Google Apps, Ryan and Juliana save money on computer software, and they’re quickly and easily able to share lesson plans with employees through Google Docs. Managing everything in the cloud means that campers aren’t tied to a particular computer, so they can go back to their projects at any point in time. And parents like that they are able to login and engage with the content their kids are reading. Google Apps allows the Heitz’s to reallocate the time spent on back office work to working side-by-side with the kids.

MAKE magazine’s Maker Camp brought summer camp to the web this summer with a free, virtual DIY camp for teens. This online “summer camp” on Google+ encouraged 13- to 18-year-olds (as well as their parents and teachers) to get creative with up to 30 different types of fun projects themed around creativity and “the art of making.” From junk art robots to potato cannons, Maker camp counselors posted projects on the MAKE Google+ page and hosted Hangouts On Air with campers to review the day’s project and chat about tips and tricks. On Field Trip Fridays, participants get behind the scenes access at locations like the research and innovation lab at +Ford and +National Geographic. It was a wonderful way to connect with fellow campers around the world and to get inspiration for new project ideas.

Google tools give these summer camps new ways to communicate, collaborate, grow and stay focused on what matters the most: the campers. See you around the campfire!