Hansen: When did summer turn into designer camps?

In the old days, summer camp meant playing outside or, if we were lucky, camping overnight in the yard.

It certainly wasn't a weekly $1,000 technology camp at UC Irvine learning how to mod Minecraft.

But such is the life of a modern kid in Orange County, where summer has turned into a cornucopia of privileged choices.

It has tech camps, art camps, drama camps, sports camps, church camps, dance camps, culinary camps, leadership camps, movie camps, writing camps, music camps and camps with Legos.

Basically, whatever you're willing to pay for, you can find — something to keep little Johnny and Susie occupied for weeks.

Of course, not every child gets to experience a summer camp because of the high costs, which actually might be a blessing. Let's face it, kids don't know how to play outside anyway, so a summer's worth of practice might do them some good.

But if we want to keep up with the Joneses — and boost that college prep resume — here is a sampling of just the tech camps with their own descriptions and some personal commentary.

•CodeREV Tech Camp, Irvine and Fountain Valley, ages 6 to 14, $550 per week, coderevkids.com/tech-camps/.

"CodeREV Kids Tech Camps are the ultimate camp experience in education and fun. Whether learning to write code, 3D model and animate, develop the next great app or game, or mod in Minecraft, your kids and their friends will love sharing in the confidence-boosting experience of creating with technology as they explore and develop their multimedia STEM skills."

Hansen note: It's unclear whether "multimedia STEM skills" are in any way related to stem cell research, but it can't be ruled out.

•iD Tech Camps, UC Irvine and University High School, ages 7 to 17, $798 to 958 per week, idtech.com/locations/california-summer-camps/irvine/.

"Gain a competitive edge and learn how programming, app development, robotics, game design, 3D modeling, filmmaking, or photography can become a college degree and even a rewarding career. 2-week, pre-college summer programs for ages 13-18. Held at prestigious universities including UCLA, Stanford, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, and others. Tour a professional studio to gain industry insight and graduate with a portfolio of your work. Also weeklong camps for ages 7-17 held at iD Tech Camps."

Hansen note: Second-graders who have not yet selected UCLA or Stanford as their primary choice probably should not attend.

•PlanetBravo, Irvine, Culverdale Elementary School, ages 7 to 14, $525 and up per week, planetbravo.com/camps/irvine.php.

"From the beginning, PlanetBravo's award-winning summer camp has always been about giving kids a fun, confidence-boosting experience where they can explore and develop new multimedia skills with their friends. Whether it's learning to code, making movies, modding Minecraft, or building robots, our kids are using their summers to do incredible things with technology here at camp."

Hansen note: What's with the modding Minecraft? Isn't it enough that kids play online games every waking moment? Now we're going to teach them the skills to hack the world.

So those are just the tech camps. There are many, many other types of camps. For a pretty good comprehensive listing, visit: orangecounty.net/html/edu_camps.htm#techcamps.

My favorite, of course, is the writing camp in Fountain Valley. It's somewhat inexpensive, and if the writing never pans out, you can teach.

•Write and Teach - Let's Write, Fountain Valley, ages 7 to 12, July 18 to 29, $350, writeandteach.org/#!summer-camp/cee5.

"In this camp, young writers are provided 35 hours of direct instruction with credentialed teachers, in classes of no more than 10 students with writing materials, resources and digital devices, a daily snack, and an exclusive Let's Write! camp T-shirt. Writers will engage in the writing process: drafting, writing, editing, revising and creating digital writing projects to publish and develop writing skills and strategies to foster a love for writing with 21st century skills. In addition to our camps, we also provide one-on-one tutoring throughout the school year."

Hansen note: Worst case, you get a $350 "Let's Write!" T-shirt, guaranteeing that you won't get picked in dodge ball come next fall.

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DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at hansen.dave@gmail.com.

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