Are your kids between the ages of 8 and 13? If so, you can keep them occupied this summer at Microsoft's YouthSpark Summer Camps. Not only do these camps keep my kids entertained, they teach them valuable hands-on skills about technology and expose them to new products. They love learning about computers, and I love that they can stay busy this summer for free!

How to sign up

Click "Enroll Now" on the homepage to get started. Choose the store closest to you in the drop-down menu and you'll be redirected to the "Events" page where you can see what camps are available on what days in your area. Just click on "RSVP" on the day and event that you choose, then fill out the registration information—that's it!

When camps are held

Various camps are offered at Microsoft retail stores June 2nd through August 29th. Each day camp is about one week long and lasts for about two hours at a time.

Available camps

Camps are split up into two age groups:

  • Jr Designers: kids ages 8-10
  • Designers: kids ages 11-13

For Jr. Designers

  • Smart Game Coding: When your kids attend this camp, they'll learn how to code, play, and program games and, of course, all of it’s kid-friendly and fun. Last summer, my daughter especially loved how her entire group had to work together—and she made some great friends.

For both Jr. Designers and Designers

  • Smart Movie Making: This camp teaches kids how to direct, produce, animate and design their own movies using Surface Pro and Windows Phones. It's an exciting and imaginative camp—my kids really got a thrill out of seeing their own creations come to life!
  • Smart Photo Taking: This camp is perfect for my selfie-loving pre-teen! The Smart Photo Taking camp teaches kids how to take, edit, and share some pretty amazing photos right from their own phones. Instructors will teach kids tricks on how to make their photos really pop—and how to even turn them into art using the Photo Fuse feature.

Just for Designers

  • Smart Game Designing: The Smart Game Designing camp teaches older kids how to create games and movies. They'll learn how to build and publish their very own creations right on their phone!

What you can expect

Space is limited—and these camps tend to fill up pretty fast—so be sure to RSVP if you find a camp you'd like to attend. Although these camps are for kids, all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the entire event. But I didn't mind—I loved seeing what my daughter was learning. Plus it was fun getting involved a little too!