This summer, I took a four-month sabbatical from my work at Smile to launch App Camp For Girls, a program that teaches girls ages 12 to 14 how to brainstorm, design, build, and pitch iPhone apps, mentored by women developers.
The idea had been percolating for some time. If you’ve ever attended a developer conference, the lack of women participants is striking. While there are a lot of theories about why that might be, it seemed to me that it would help if we got girls interested in software development at a young age. Drawing on my experience with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp For Girls, where girls form a band, learn an instrument, write a song and perform a showcase all in one week, I wanted to put on a program that would be fun and educational.
The camp was a big success this summer. We put on two week-long programs. In both sessions, the girls worked on their own quiz apps, which were built in Xcode and deployed to iPod touches. This was an important feature of the camp program. Each camper was issued an iPod touch to use for the week, so that they could build their apps onto the device and take it home to show off your work. There is nothing that compares with the sense of accomplishment the first time you run an app that you wrote on a device!
The community has been incredibly supportive of our efforts. We held an Indiegogo campaign in June/July which raised $106K, over twice our original target. With the additional funds, we will focus on expanding the App Camp For Girls program beyond Portland for Summer 2014.
I’m happy to be back working full-time at Smile. My colleagues have been amazing, generously taking over my Smile responsibilities so that I could devote this time to get App Camp For Girls off the ground. Maia Olson, our awesome support geek and marketing associate, even came up from California both weeks to coach a group of girls through the development process. (That’s Maia in the photo, third from the right in the back row.)