Colleen Marsh ’08 is a local Girl Scout leader and Moravian’s IT project manager. Nick Laird is Moravian’s Mac systems administrator. Together they are codirectors of Moravian College’s CodeHOUNDS Camp, a weeklong camp where kids in grades 5 through 7 learn coding with Swift—a programming language developed by Apple. Marsh’s roles sparked the idea of a camp session exclusively for Girl Scouts. To make the camp affordable, Marsh worked with the college advancement team to secure funding, and fellow alumni Nick ’13 and Brittany ’12 Clingan came forward with a generous gift matched by Nick’s employer, Microsoft, that made CodeHOUNDS Camp possible for 22 Junior Girl Scouts.
“I was a first-generation student, and Brittany is a school psychologist,” says Nick Clingan (pictured in the center of the photo to the right), “so education is extremely important to us. When we heard about this opportunity to support girls learning to code, we were very excited. We believe it’s important to foster involvement in STEM skills activities at a young age.”
The camp ran from August 12 to 16. Kari Bennett, who just received her master’s in education from Moravian in May and has a bachelor’s in technology education from Millersville University, was the lead instructor for the camp.
“We learned variables—which are placeholders for coding—and we learned about loops and conditions,” says Lily Campbell, age 10 and a student at Farmersville Elementary School in Easton. “It’s been really fun and made me more interested in coding. I loved the Spheros; it was fun watching them roll around and playing with them in the fountain.”
“It was a great week,” says Bennett. “The girls worked hard; they worked together, and they made new friends. They learned some hard stuff in five days, such as while loops and parameters. But they were undaunted. They didn’t stop asking questions until they got it.”
And as 95 percent of the participants agreed, CodeHOUNDS Camp met the Girl Scout mission: to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”