You won't find all 400 children at the Browne Academy summer day camp in Fairfax County swimming, hiking, and walking through a creek.
Every morning for the past three weeks, 20 children spent about an hour and half in a small classroom on Telegraph Road learning how to program computers. The students, who are six to 12 years old, converse in computer phrases with an ease that would intimidate many adults whose knowledge of computers extends no further than punching keys at an automated bank teller.
"If you're in Logo, you can't load a Basic program," said David Abba, 9, of Alexandria as he prepares to program one of Browne's five Apple computers.
Abba pointed to the computer screen as his favorite program "Flower" was executed. As a flower was being drawn, Abba pointed to the petals and exclaimed "This is an Inspi," which means the computer was repeating the petals at different angles.
"Logo" and "Basic" are names of computer languages that the children learn during the three-week course, which ended yesterday. The languages are used in programs that instruct the computers to make designs, draw pictures and create games.
As computer instruction is becoming more and more a part of elementary education, Logo has become "the hottest item in education," said the course's teacher, Julie Ann VanDerslice, who coordinates Browne's computer program during the school year.
She has also trained area teachers to teach Logo.
Posters line the walls reminding the children of some of the basic computer commands like "Edit" and "Catalog." The morning classes are held in two sessions, one for beginners and one for intermediate and advanced children and cost $30 per week.
The students first learned how to write commands to instruct the computer to move a triangular cursor, which the children call a turtle, across the screen. Then they program the computer to draw graphics, working their way up from straight lines to creating games and pictures of flowers. As the children sit two to a terminal, a babble of computer lingo fills the room as they comment on one another's programs.
Kim Wilson, 8, of Fairfax was executing a program that draws a random design in colors changing from orange to purple to aqua when her computer started beeping.
"Okay, Kim, you're going to have to do an erase all and recycle," VanDerslice told her.
"How do you spell recycle?" Kim replied as she was about to type in the command.
Leslie Nanney, whose son Michael, 7, attended the computer school, said she was concerned that some of the children appeared more adept at computer language than at reading and writing the English language.
"I wish (Michael's) reading skills were a little bit better," she said of her son. Nanney is a systems analyst for a small computer software consulting firm and her husband, David, programmed computers for 14 years before he took a job at the Pentagon, where he provides computer support to the Army staff.
Leslie Nanney said their son's decision to enroll in a computer course gives him a "better idea of what mom and dad do to earn their income."
"When I grow up, I want to be a communications officer and I want to know how to work with communications computers," said Michael Nanney. "That's why I want to learn computers."
Mary Grant of Arlington said when her daughter told her she wrote a program, "I just about fainted. I haven't the faintest idea of how to do that myself."
But to her 6-year-old daughter Betsy, computer programming is nothing more than child's play.
"It's fun. You can play games and make things," said Betsy Grant.