« Bloggers, journalists, political scientists and political practitioners | Main | Corporate blogging: thoughts from a company founder »

Programming Instructor, Rocky Mountain Computer Camps, 1982-3

Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 09:56PM
Posted by Registered CommenterPolitical Mammal in My personal history

I spent two high school summers, 1982 and 1983, as a computer programming aide/instructor and camp counselor at the Rocky Mountain Computer Camps in Wild Basin, Colorado. I had always spent summers with my family in Vermont and I missed that, but instead I got paid to have fun, hike, teach, and hang out with a bunch of kids and other counselors and teachers in a beautiful national park setting. It was an extraordinarily gentle transition toward working life and a great experience.

My clearest memories are of the outdoor activities: we hiked to Copeland Falls, Ouzel Falls, Calypso Cascades and to lovely lakes and mountains in the Rocky Mountain National Park. I got to ride a trail horse, play awesome games of capture-the-flag on the wooded side of a hill, play volleyball, have campfires, live in a cabin, camp out, and have other adventures. We tossed a few campers in the lake in the middle of the night in a practice that we called “keelhauling.” Once I got thrown in myself by a relentless swarm of young campers taking revenge. I went running on the area roads, visiting small towns like Allenspark and Meeker.

I also enjoyed the computer education part of the program. I think the summers were pretty successful. They must have been fairly early in the history of computer camps since personal computers were still getting established. I was the resident whiz on the Apple II computers that we used – such skills were considerably more rare then than they are now -- and I always liked teaching. I remember programming a battleship game with one of the students. I know that I added a little creativity to the lessons; I remember amusing myself by teaching some kids that there were 4 bits in a nybble, two nybbles in a byte (all true) and sixteen bytes in a chomp (not true, so far as I know.)

I have located a couple of souvenirs left from that time, now well over twenty years ago. One was a staff evaluation of the program after its first year. There seems to have been some controversy about the success of the ecological/environmental part of the educational program, but a general sense that it went pretty well. I also have a roster from one of the sessions. I have only a vague recollection of most of the campers on the list, though I recognize a 17-year-old female camper on whom I had a crush. I wonder how many of those kids ended up in computer-related professions. I also have one completed questionnaire by an incoming camper. It included questions like “Can you write a program to alphabetize a list of names?” I am confident that the campers left knowing how to do such things -- a lot more than when they arrived.

Most alarmingly, considering that I was a pretty immature sixteen or seventeen-year old back then, I also found a copy of my evaluation by the adult staff after one of the summers. According to that document, my weaknesses were that I was sloppy (cited by multiple people), a little impatient with less intelligent kids, and that I sometimes resented being asked to do things like clean up. On the plus side, I got high marks for knowledge about computers, sense of humor, leadership, being a good sport, and having a positive influence on the attitudes of the campers. Whew.

All in all, those were two very enjoyable summers.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.