Bikes and Bytes empowers kids in Nelson to code and explore the great outdoors

A new kind of camp: Mountain biking and coding

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Kids line up in front of a big black bus and wave to the camera.

Bikes and Bytes is a summer camp that teaches programming principles inside the classroom while also encouraging young learners to get outside. — Photo courtesy Traction for Good

Traction on Demand, a consulting and application development firm in Nelson, is teaching local kids to code in a radical way—by taking them outside.

Traction on Demand’s community engagement program, Traction for Good, runs Bikes and Bytes, a summer camp that teaches programming principles inside the classroom while also encouraging young learners to get outside. The week-long program is a partnership with Cycling BC and includes three hours of coding instruction and three hours of biking adventure.

“As demand for tech skills continues to increase, Traction for Good ensures kids are given an opportunity to learn the basics of coding,” said Shirley Loi, community engagement manager for Traction for Good. “Getting outdoors and being with nature is important. This is a great way for kids to learn how to code and then go mountain biking outside and get a little dirty, which the kids always love.”

Only in Nelson

An initiative of this nature wouldn’t be possible just anywhere. Nelson has all the necessary amenities in place to host a program like Bikes and Bytes.

“There was a desire to host a camp that was a mix of the classroom and outdoors,” Loi said. “Nelson has a growing tech community where we can nurture our kids of tomorrow to build a career in the tech industry. It also has amazing trails for the outdoors.”

Two kids in yellow shirts interact with a computer.

“Nelson has a growing tech community where we can nurture our kids of tomorrow to build a career in the tech industry,” said Shirley Loi. — Photo courtesy Traction for Good

Kids are taken through a lesson plan of HTML, CSS, Scratch and video editing, before putting this all together in a presentation on the last day. The outcome is a website with title, headers, paragraphs, embedded images and video.

Setting an example

Along with the course, kids learn about philanthropy and finding a cause that is important to them at the start of the course.

“Traction for Good believes in teaching the skills needed for kids to become leaders in their community,” said Loi. “Our philanthropy workshops encourage kids to explore how they can make a difference. It’s incredibly amazing and powerful to see what these kids already know at such a young age.”

“Bikes and Bytes is a great way for Tractionites to give their time. Volunteers can come from all backgrounds—even marketing and finance. Someone like me, who has no coding background, can now lead a classroom and teach the kiddos HTML and CSS. It’s about learning together. If we don’t have the answer, we can find the solution together.”

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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