Fun Fact: Innovators Camp at the Children’s Museum was originally scheduled to end in late fall. However, demand for the weekly class was so great that it was extended through June. Before this incredibly popular offering moves to Nova’s Ark for a full-time camp this summer (don’t worry, they’ll be back at the end of the season) iCAMP’s founder and director, Brendan Manley, was kind enough to talk tech, the importance of using it responsibly, and the next “big thing.”
How did you originally get involved with CMEE?
My wife, Lulu, and I have two young kids. Like every other parent in the Hamptons, we are completely in love with CMEE. Shortly after we launched iCAMP, CMEE contacted us about doing classes during the off-season and we were immediately interested. In the fall we started hosting STEAM classes there every Sunday morning, which we plan to continue until our summer camp starts on July 1.
Have you always been into technology? How did you decide to start iCamp?
Our goal was to create a program that we would want for our kids. My wife and I, both originally from Southampton, moved back out east when we were ready to start a family. Having kids made us think about the educational programs that were available in the Hamptons. My background is in technology, so it is a topic that obviously interests me. Today’s kids have access to more tech than any preceding generation, which is an absolutely amazing thing. However, it also has its pitfalls. This is why our program emphasizes responsible and constructive use of tech for every age group. Moreover, the idea of iCamp is to develop well-rounded kids, so it is vital that farming, nature, wellness, creativity, and craftsmanship also comprise the core of our curriculum.
How do you respond to a parent who might be hesitant for their child to start working with technology?
I can relate, because I am actually one of those parents! Parents should be very selective about what their kids have access to at every age. And part of our role is helping parents make these selections as well as building good tech habits in kids and introducing them to productive usages.
What can kids expect when they enroll in iCAMP?
Campers will be taking part in STEAM activities such as 3D printing their own designs, writing code to control robots, making short films, and flyings drones. They will be able to enjoy the nature of our campus, which is situated on 100 beautiful acres in Bridgehampton. New friendships will be forged as campers engage in project-based learning with peers. And campers will be free to explore topics that interest them by working on mentor-guided projects of their choosing.
What’s the “next big thing” in technology?
AI will likely have the most profound impact on the quality of our lives in the next decade. Everything from the transportation industry to the medical field is likely to be disrupted. But one of the things I am most excited for is the widespread adoption of Augmented Reality (think Tony Stark’s computer).
What do kids find most surprising when it comes to working with technology?
New technology can be full of bugs! One of the things that campers have to get used to is how new technology doesn’t always cooperate. Of course, learning how to debug and troubleshoot is one of the most valuable lessons for our campers to learn.
What are some of your favorite things to do here in the East End?
My wife and I love taking the kids and dogs to the beach. We’re also big foodies, and enjoy family outings to our favorite spots. In the winter we spend a lot of time hiking in many of the beautiful nature trails and, of course, we’re at CMEE every other day!