Raglan – A prominent Kiwi businessman has set up New Zealand’s first ever enviro-tech camp at Raglan, south of Auckland.
Vaughan Fergusson, founder of New Zealand’s high-growth tech success story Vend and founder of OMGTech!, has rebooted an outdoor education camp to help steer kids into tech careers.
“Kids can come here and connect with nature and help solve some problems through tech,” Fergusson says.
“They may detect pollution in the waterways or track pests in the bush or grow good food. We call these Secret Projects and we show kids how to use technology and build solutions for them while they are at the camp, which we call the Institute of Awesome.
“This is what we are working on for the next part of our strategy for the charity my partner Zoe Timbrell and I founded in my late mum’s name, the Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust.
“We have been running the successful OMGTech! workshops and Mana Tangata youth mentorship for five years, creating pathways for kids into technology and we have been teaching teachers tech through our professional development programmes.
“We wanted a place to bring schools to connect technology to a purpose. We also thought it was important to connect industry to the camp and so we make the camp and our lodge available to corporates who want something different for their next offsite or retreat.
“We teach kids coding, engineering, electronics, chemistry and design. We have a team of educators who run the workshops and also local expert innovators who inspire the kids with how they use tech in the natural world.
“Camps can be life changing experiences for kids, and we want to provide new ways for them to be inspired and find new pathways with technology too.”
Technology is becoming so pervasive in every part of our lives, Fergusson, a former New Zealand entrepreneur of the year, says.
“We have it on our wrists, in our homes, in our cars, in the doctor’s office and in the classrooms. It’s vitally important our kids understand how technology works and can become the innovators of it, not the consumers of it.”
EdTech New Zealand chair Shane Kerr says the enviro-tech venture is a fantastic initiative.
“It is so important for all Kiwi kids to get exposure to and get involved in tech education,” Kerr says.
“Not only is tech the fastest growing sector in New Zealand, it is also creating the most new jobs and some of the highest paying jobs.
“Regardless of what the future holds for the kids attending this tech camp, having this exposure to tech in real world settings will set them up for success.”
For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 02750130188.
Photo: Vaughan Fergusson and Zoe Timbrell