Desert Code Camp and Desert Code Camp Jr

In the past few years, I’ve been privileged to learn and network at Desert Code Camp.  When I jumped the fence to teach, it was an honor to learn from y’all as I shared the skills you’d taught me previously.  Many years ago, I began by teaching an intro to CSS and a team-taught SVN class.  Last code camp, I taught Thinking in JavaScript, Intro to jQuery, and Advanced jQuery including building plugins and animations.  I also got to learn about ASP.NET MVC, programming usb gadgets, and unit testing JavaScript – to name a few.  It was a blast.

For anyone who’s not taught the skills and talents you have, take the opportunity to do so.  It is well worth the effort and the skills you develop are invaluable.  Imagine how confident you’ll be in the next job interview when you notice the same stage fright that quickly passes when teaching a room full of peers can also dissipate just as fast when you’re getting grilled by a potential colleague.  And imagine the awesome resume tick and skill justification when you can document that not only do you have x years doing it, but that you taught it to a crowded room of your peers.

But I digress.  This year I’m taking a different path with Desert Code Camp.  My son often comes with me to Users’ Group meetings – mostly for the 1-on-1 time with me as we drive and the free pizza and stickers.  (At the conclusion of an evening 6 months or so ago, with his collection of treasured swag in hand, he said to me, “Dad, there’s a lot of stickers in programming.“  :D)  Each of the recruiters also engage him a bit each time, and I’m sure if he played his hand right, he could find an awesome job in 5 or 10 years.  Today, he does pretty well in DreamWeaver if I jump in with hard stuff and “how do you spell …?” from time to time.  His site is  He created the concept when he was 4 as a way to keep track of his favorite sites without the need to ask me where the letter H was on his keyboard every time.  For a 4-year-old, the problem’s solution was brilliant!  Lately he’s been asking to learn more about the guts of how it works – hardware, software, marketing, and finance.  An eager mind like his is such a treasure.

Thus, this year, I’m not attending Desert Code Camp as a learning and teaching and networking opportunity.  This year, it will all be about my son.  Desert Code Camp Jr is a trek slated for kids “ages 4 to 18”.  (In my opinion, kids over  13 or 15 or so will probably want to take – or teach – the other classes though.)  We’ll learn about MIT’s Scratch – drag-drop programming for kids, programming Lego Mindstorms, and we’ll learn about circuits.  Lunch is generously provided by GangPlank.  Mark explained to me he wants to give me some time to go to a grown-up class too, though I’ll defer to him once the excitement kicks in.  The way they’ve structured it with a small instruction period up front and then a generous experimentation and play time afterward for each topic will be perfect for developing skill and creativity in these bright young minds.

Thus, if you were looking for the Continuous Integration class or the Unit Testing with TypeMock and Ivonna class I hyped, or an encore performance of the Advanced jQuery class, you’ll have to wait until next year.  This year, I get to be Dad – the greatest honor I could imagine.