Starting to think about summer camps for the kids? Well now, in addition to the usual lineup of swimming, softball or horseback riding, parents in the Maritimes can add computer coding to the list of choices.

Jeff Hughes of Riverview, N.B. started Coding School Canada with summer camps in Moncton and Fredericton last year, which sold out in just two weeks. This summer, he plans to add Charlottetown, Saint John, Halifax and Sydney.   

"It really came out of seeing the demand and the need for it," Hughes told CBC Radio: Information Morning Moncton

"We aren't teaching students skills that they need to fill jobs that we already have," he said, noting that schools in many other countries teach students to code.

"We're going to be left behind other schools and other countries." 

Girls Learning Code

Some of this summer's coding camps across the Maritimes will be girls-only. (CBC)

In New Brunswick, the first chance most students get at learning coding is in middle or junior high school, but Hughes wants to spark that interest earlier, in elementary school.

The P.E.I. Home and School Federation has recommended the addition of computer coding to schools as early as kindergarten, and the government has said it will consider it.

Nova Scotia hopes to incorporate computer coding into its education curriculum this fall.

"Many of the parents come in asking for sessions themselves, because they don't know what their kids are learning," Hughes said. 

Last year, there was a Minecraft course and a couple of other courses on how to build your own game. 

This year he is adding a junior robotics course and an explorer camp to expose kids to robotics, circuitry, app-making and game-making.

Girls-only camp

There will also be a girls-only camp. Last summer, only 10 to 20 per cent of campers were girls, but Hughes said girls have just as much aptitude and enthusiasm for coding as boys, and he's eager for them to see how they can change the world. 

For every girl who signs up, Hughes has pledged to sponsor a girl in Ghana to go to a coding camp there for a month.

Hughes has also been offering after-school programs at four different schools in Moncton, where he now has 90 students.

Hughes plans to create a report card so parents can see what their kids have learned, what they should do next and how it translates into the real world.

Not stuck indoors

For those who worry about their children being stuck indoors in front of a computer in the summer, the coding camp website promises students will get 90 minutes of physical activity every day, playing in nearby parks.

Hughes is planning to hire computer science students to teach some of this summer's camps. 

With files from Jonna Brewer