This past weekend, we held our first BitCamp in six years at our new Detroit office. We had 14 young women, ages 12 and 13, join us for a whole Saturday to learn the basics of computer coding. The girls were bright, funny, shy, awkward, loud, mute, and everything in between, a myriad of middle school personas. I came away thoroughly impressed by these young women, their skills, and their drive to absorb the information surrounding them. But in the end, I was most impressed by the support of their parents.
BitCamp started a little later than originally planned, 9:15 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m., and we quickly figured out why. Apparently, our building is rather hard to find, and many parents entered the building flustered but relieved to have finally arrived. We began the day by making nametags, participating in a dance-inspired icebreaker, and pairing up for programming. At this point, we were missing 3 of the 16 registered attendees, but we forged ahead as planned.
Around 10:30 a.m., a mother and daughter walked in the door and looked around bewildered. I greeted them and quickly helped the young girl make her nametag and find her pairing partner. Mom was exhausted, wet from the rain, and quite out of breath. We got her some water and as she relaxed, we started to chat.
Turns out, they took the bus from Livonia to downtown Detroit (about a 50-minute ride) and then continued on foot to find our building. They walked in every direction and couldn’t seem to find 1407 Randolph. They walked, and walked, and walked — in the rain, for hours. Mom told me that several different times her daughter begged her to “just forget about it and go home”, but she refused.
What she said to me next shows her wisdom and maturity as a parent and human being. She said: “I knew that if I let this beat me, if I let myself give up, that it would affect my daughter more than anything else. I was determined to find this building and we did.” This is huge; bigger than any camp or class could ever be.
To understand that the most important thing you can do for your child is to teach them determination and perseverance, takes great awareness and intelligence. We cannot choose our children’s path, but we can teach them the skills necessary to traverse it. Considering the state of the Detroit Public School system and the city itself, who understands determination and perseverance better than Detroiters?
A huge and resounding “thank you” to all the BitCamp parents. I’m sure you don’t hear it enough. I sincerely hope that one day your daughters will remember that you walked through the rain for them and you never gave up.