I have wanted to volunteer to help run a Code Club since first hearing about it back in June 2013 thanks to this episode of the Ubuntu Podcast where they interviewed one of the founders; Linda Sandvik
The universe had different plans for me for a while but it was in the back of mind that I needed to at least try one term of teaching kids to code even though I have never worked with children or have done any sort of volunteering.
Code Clubs are usually run as an after school club and that was a problem or what I thought was a problem. As a freelancer I am usually at a client’s site and leaving early once a week, every week is not usually an option. Whilst working at one client, I met a Code Club volunteer who was helping run a Code Club from a library which started at a more achievable time.
Finding this out coupled with my visit to a Code Club session made me double down my efforts to become a volunteer.
I got in touch with my local library with a view to getting a Club started and met with the Library outreach worker who was also enthusiastic about getting a Code Club up and running. So fast forward to January 2019 and the first Code Club where I will be volunteering is 24 hours away.
I remember being very nervous before the first session. I had prepared myself as much as I had thought possible. I had completed the first Scratch project, Rock Band so many times that I could do it from memory and probably without looking at the screen. On arrival I met with the two other volunteers and the Library outreach worker. I had initially thought there would be too many volunteers for the 8 children but like most assumptions this turned out to be incorrect.
Once the first session got under way and the questions from the children came in the time passed quickly and soon it was over. Wow. I felt like I was walking on air on the way back to the car. It had been an amazing experience and one that I had waited many years for. I felt I had achieved something after that first session.
I was still nervous the following week for the second session although noticeable less than the first session. By week three the nerves although still present were being replaced by getting excited and looking forward to the upcoming session. I was still completing that weeks Scratch project many times and and trying to second guess what questions would come up. However I was starting to see there wasn’t much value in doing this because the children were rarely were interested in creating identical copies of the Scratch project for that week.
Instead they took the projects in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions. It was magnificent and something I wasn’t prepared for at all. The children’s technical ability is amazing. They are rarely phased by new things being introduced and all were very comfortable in using a computer.
Some weeks were more successful than others. The most popular weeks were the gaming projects especially Boat Race when we arranged competitions with the other volunteers and children to get the best time. It was also my favourite session out of the seven.
All too soon the Club had reached the seventh and last session of our first term. There was a huge appetite from both children and parents to continue so after a couple of months break I will be back starting again in May for another term.
I can’t wait.