A result of a partnership between Connected Camps and the Institute of Play, ‘Summer of Minecraft’ is a virtual summer camp where kids can unleash their imaginations freely.
Minecraft, for those who live under a virtual rock, has become (arguably) the pre-eminent ‘must-have’ phenomenon for kids of this generation. Like Pokemon, Tamagotchi and Pogs before it, Minecraft has transcended its roots to become a cultural force to be reckoned with.
With a whole host of merchandise, schemes and a movie tie-in planned, it seems that this success is going somewhere, something that Microsoft seems to keenly believe in, having paid a reported $2.5 billion for ownership of the property last year.
Yet, unlike its peers, the utility of Minecraft extends well beyond the simple mechanics of build-and-survive inherent in the gameplay, many have taken the popularity of the game and crafted it into attempts to change things for the better, such as with ‘Mina Kvarter’ in Sweden.
Seizing on this spirit, Connected Camps and the Institute of Play have come together to create ‘Summer of Minecraft’ a virtual summer-camp where children can come together and unleash their imaginations under the guidance of Camp Counselors and Teen Counselors. The idea is to get as many children involved and inspired as possible giving them experience of realizing their visions, no matter the magnitude.
This also has the benefit of meaning that parents can be secure in the knowledge that their children are interacting in a secure environment, something which is exceptionally difficult to guarantee in the online space.
As part of the program, several different packages are being offered. The first is the Online Kid Camp, which costs $150 and allows 4 weeks of unlimited access to the Summer of Minecraft moderated server, guided building with counselors and a number of in-game events which will take place throughout the duration of the camp, which lasts from July 6th to August 2nd.
The second package is free, where players play single-player, or on their own server, running camps with their friends and using the free guides and challenges provided by Summer of Minecraft. The third is the ‘coding camp’ where young players come together for one week and are taught how to code in-game using the programming language ‘Lua’. With a limited number of spaces available, this means that one-to-one sessions with counselors are more regular, this package will be priced at $50.
It isn’t all about the kids however, as is shown by the last package. It has been a problem experienced by generations of parents, trying to understand their children’s hobbies. In the last two decades, as technology has advanced and children take to it like ducks to water, parents are increasingly being left behind.
The ‘Parent Camp’ runs throughout the Summer of Minecraft, costing $25 and giving parents the opportunity to hang out with one another via online chat and become a little more immersed in the world of Minecraft, giving them more of an opportunity to understand their offspring.
Partnered with Microsoft Research, among others, this represents a unique opportunity to see where the limits of the educational potential of Minecraft lie. Microsoft has made it clear that it considers the present to be only the beginning of Minecraft’s journey, where it will take is is yet to be seen, though HoloLens is definitely involved.
Have you learned anything from playing Minecraft? Let us know in the comments below.Further reading: Microsoft, Minecraft, Windows 10, Xbox