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Popular video game spawns Cranberry summer camp

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By Abbie Minard
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Children ages 8 to 12 will have the chance to explore their creative talents in a virtual world with the upcoming Adventures in Minecraft camp.

The program will be held Monday through Friday, July 29 to Aug. 2, with five afternoon sessions from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center.

Campers will join other Minecraft fans for multiple problem-solving activities, and participate in a group project. Dell laptops will be provided for the students' use by Hi-Tech Learning, the company running the program. At the end of the camp, participants will receive instructions about how to access their programs from home.

Cranberry Township Director of Programs Jason Mentel said the class is high quality, with excellent instructors.

Minecraft is a game that has exploded in popularity. It dates to 2009, although a full version with some tweaks and updates was released in 2011 and it became an instant hit. Players use virtual blocks to build their own structures. They can choose to play Survival Mode, in which their creations protect them from nocturnal creatures, or Creative Mode, without the threat of monsters.

Players also can use the Minecraft server to play together in the same world, and interact with each other in the game.

The downloadable game has sold more than 11 million copies.

Shawn Walk, co-owner of Hi-Tech Learning and instructor for Adventures in Minecraft, said the company's main goal is “to get kids ready for today's world and be successful in today's careers.”

He said Minecraft is a fun way for children to learn 21st century skills, because the game incorporates collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving.

The Adventures in Minecraft camp is Hi-Tech Learning's most popular program. “It's kind of limitless what you can accomplish,” Walk said.

The camp costs $171, or $156 for Cranberry residents with Resident Discount Identification Cards. Registration is accepted in person, online, or by phone at 724-776-4806.

Abbie Minard is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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