Need summer fun? Online kids camp launches today - FOX 13 News

Need summer fun? Online kids camp launches today

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Parents, are you already desperately looking for more stuff to do with the kids this summer?

How about trying something different – way different.

An interactive summer camp kicks off Monday, and you and your children can attend anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Best of all: It's free.

It's called the Maker Camp, and it centers on science and technology.

A few years ago, Google approached leading tech magazine "Make" to put the camp together. The six-week program launched last summer, and CEO Dale Dougherty said it was a huge success, drawing people from around the country.

"As the Internet becomes this increasingly interesting social space, how do we use it in unique ways, and some ways to mirror some of the things we've done, you know, over time without the Internet," Dougherty said about the idea behind it.

All camp activities take place through "hangout" on Google's social networking site, Google. In essence, they are glorified, secure, video chat rooms. The kids (and parents, if you prefer) log on and interact with camp counselors.

There are daily projects and virtual field trips. One day it might be building a robot. The next day you might take a virtual tour of NASA, or hear from an astronaut.

There are no kickballs or canoes needed at this camp. It's something new each and every day.

"What we're really about is projects – getting people to do things that are fun and interesting," Dougherty said. "It could be rockets or robots, creating electronics that you could wear as clothing. So we think the scope of it is pretty broad, and you can do a lot of fun things."

If you don't have a Google+ profile, don't worry. It just takes a few minutes to sign up. Parents are free to join in as well.

Activities usually start around 2 p.m. EST each day, and you can find more about the program online at http://makezine.com/maker-camp/.

It's fun. It's free. And it will have the kids looking at summer camp in whole new light.

"What we really hope campers are doing is not necessarily just watching the videos here, but doing something on their own – making a project and sharing it with other people," Dougherty said.

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