Girls get IT! summer camp

Girls get IT!

Earlier this year, when I, my sister Tara, and our friends Anuragi and Vedika were planning our 2017 summer (our summers tend to be filled with camps), we decided to set aside a week to run a fun-filled technology summer camp for kids who do not usually get to attend them.

Last year, I had gone up to Barkpak, the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal to set up a children's library project (see:  Anuragi, Tara and Vedika had helped fundraise for the project (see: 
This year, we are focusing on doing something at home in the US. The  four of us are working together to organize a fun summer camp for girls from Northern Virginia. After a bit of research, we zoomed in on rising  middle-school girls. 

Why middle schoolers, you might ask? According to a 2016 research Cracking the Gender Code (, the gender gap in technology jobs has dramatically increased in the last 30 years, even as job opportunities have expanded in the technology sector. While in 1984 some 37 percent of computer science majors were women, today, some 30 years later, that number had dropped to 18 percent. Researchers found that while the girls’ interest in technology peaks in middle school, it dissipates by the time they get to high school because of lack of encouragement

The statisticts were disturbing. I came up with a set of questions and Anuragi mailed out some 20 surveys with stamped return envelopes (she wrote all of them by hand!) We got five surveys back in the mail, and a dozen or so people called in their responses. Then, last Saturday, we asked the girls to meet us at Bruin Park in Herndon, VA, to discuss the camps in more detail. 

Seven girls showed up with their parents! When we asked them what they did their previous summer, all of them had the same answer -- played outdoors with friends, watched hours of TV, went to the beach one weekend and took a trip to 6-Flags just before school started. None of the girls had been to a tech camp. In fact, no one mentioned attending any educational camps.

Technology-focused camps tend to be pricey. New immigrants and assylum seekers often work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and may not be able to afford summer camps for their kids; families with no background in technology may not see much value in these camps or afford to send their girls to one; and finally, they may hesitate to spend money on classes they are not even sure their children will enjoy.  These factors make young girls turn away from technology and eventually drop out from the STEM programs. 

Since all four of us are growing up with summers that are almost as busy as (and sometimes more busy than) the school year, it made the four of us even more determined to create a summer camp for underprivilidged girls that is both educational and fun.  

Anuragi and I are in high school, Tara is in middle school and our art coordinator Vedika is an old soul in a young body. We know how complicated middle school can be and are targeting this group because we know they need special attention; and we are focusing on information and technology because all of us are interested in IT and are keen to share what we know.

"Girls get IT!" Camp
Age: 11 and 12  year old girls (6th and 7the graders)
Date: August 20 to 25
Number of campers : 15 to 18 
Areas covered: Coding (Tara), Robotics (Anuragi), Online Safety (Maya) and Art (Vedika) 

The surveys we sent out earlier in spring helped us identify the topics the girls were interested in.  At the Bruin Park when we met the girls, we discussed ways to make online security, device safety, coding and robotics fun. We will program using Scratch, build and race lego robots, and learn how to surf and share safely. We will create art and do craft projects together each day and give 15 girls a summer camp experience they will not easily forget. 

If you believe middle school students' interest in technology needs to be nurtured, please support our Girls get IT! summer camp. Our goal is modest this year -- 1900 dollars to cover the cost of venue rental, supplies, breakfast, lunch and camp t-shirts for the kids. And we will be supervised by two adults at all times. 

Please support us as we work together to design and run a fun technology camp for rising 6th and 7th grade girls from Northern Virginia.  

Maya Pandey
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Organizer and beneficiary

Maya Pandey 
McLean, VA
Manisha Aryal