We’re pleased to have Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE magazine and Maker Faire, join us today to talk about Maker Camp—a free, online summer camp for teens on Google+. Last year, more than 1 million campers joined in, and this summer is looking even brighter. Maker Camp will officially kick off at 11 a.m. PDT / 2 p.m. EDT today in a live Hangout On Air from San Francisco’s Exploratorium and will go on for the next six weeks. - Ed.

Camping has long been a summer tradition that calls us to explore the outdoors, engage in fun activities and make new friends. Overnight camping might involve setting up tents and gathering around a campfire, while day camps can focus on areas of interest such as chess, computers, robotics or sports (we’ve worked with a lot of these at Maker Media). Yet no matter what kind of camp it is, or where it takes place, camp has to be fun and social.

Maker Camp is a whole new kind of camp: an online summer camp that is completely free and open to everyone. Maker Camp takes place wherever you are, by letting you do fun activities and share them with others through the Google+ platform. You’ll make cool projects, go on epic virtual “field trips” and meet awesome makers.

This is Maker Camp’s second summer, and the format is similar: Each weekday morning, we’ll post a new project or activity on our Google+ page—30 things to make over six weeks. Each weekday afternoon, tune in to a live Google+ Hangout On Air to meet expert makers who create amazing things. And like last year, our Field Trip Friday Hangouts will take you to new places that few of us get to see. For instance, we’re excited to take you to NASA Ames Research Center next week, and this week we’ll be checking out one of the world’s fastest sailboats, from Oracle Team USA.

We’ve added a few things to make this year's Maker Camp even better. There's a new Google+ Community for Maker Camp, so it will be even easier for you to chat with other campers and see what they’re working on. We also have a network of affiliate camps (we call them “campsites”), so you can create and make together in your local library, youth club or makerspace. If there’s a campsite near you, you’ll find it on this map. We’ve worked with Google to supply many of these campsites with maker equipment like soldering kits, LEDs, Raspberry Pi boards (mini Linux computers), and Arduino microcontrollers (good for making robots and other gadgets).



Maker Camp hopes to foster the DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit in young people. We want each camper to see how much there is that you can do and how much there is to explore all around you. Once you begin doing things, you’ll meet others who share your interests, and you can collaborate to work on projects together. We call that DIT (do-it-together). Google+ is a platform for that kind of collaboration, and it extends to any location and any time zone. And when Maker Camp comes to an end, you’ll have friendships that last beyond summer.

Maker Camp might not be surrounded by trees or near a lake, but it has many of the wonderful features of camping. For instance, you can think of your computer as the campfire that we gather around, and with more than a million campers, our virtual campfire is pretty big! Plus, like any camp, you’ll get the most out of Maker Camp by participating. Meet other makers, get involved in conversations, do things you’ve never done before and most of all, make something!

What each of us can do is pretty amazing, yet what we can do together is even more amazing. In that spirit, I invite you all to join us at Maker Camp, starting today. Just follow Make on Google+ to join, and let’s make this the best summer ever.