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Dojo members

Who are the people who make up the community of your Dojo? What roles do they play? Read on and find out!

Ninjas

Young people aged 7 to 17 attending the Dojo.

Ninjas are the reason we run CoderDojos!

“When I started to attend the CoderDojo courses one and a half years ago, I only knew how to copy and paste text. Now, I can build websites, and I even experiment with game development. CoderDojo is such an amazing initiative that I even convinced my mother to be involved. Now she is a Dojo champion.”
Daniel, 14, Ninja, Chisinau, Moldova

Mentors

Volunteers who provide support, guidance, and encouragement to the Ninjas so they can complete their projects and develop their skills.

Many mentors do not have technical skills, but that doesn’t stop them from having a huge impact on the Ninjas at their Dojo. Anyone who is passionate about technology and shares the CoderDojo spirit can be a mentor!

The role of a mentor is not the same as that of a teacher or lecturer. Mentors help Ninjas work through problems and encourage their efforts rather than directly delivering solutions. Dojos benefit greatly from the generosity of these individuals who foster the learning of young digital creators and explorers.

Champions

Dojo organisers, either the original founders of a Dojo or people who have subsequently taken on this role.

Champions make sure that everything comes together on the day so that the Dojo can run. A champion doesn’t need to know how to code. They just need to have a passion for the CoderDojo mission and the drive to make things happen. Many champions without technical skills have been running successful Dojos for years!

We recommend finding a co-champion if possible, as this both shares the responsibility and ensures that someone is in a position to keep things running in case a champion has to move away or step back due to work or other reasons.

“Every session of the Dojo is exciting as I see the kids learn with and from each other.”
Garima Singh, Dojo champion, Round Rock, Texas, USA

Youth mentors

Ninjas who are also mentors!

Once a Ninja has gained some experience at the Dojo, they should be encouraged to become a youth mentor and pass their knowledge on to less experienced Ninjas. This can be one of the best ways to learn, as explaining something can help you improve your own understanding. Being a youth mentor gives the young person a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop while acting as a peer role model that other attendees can look up to.

“I’m just helping whoever needs help, I guess, and just fooling around!”
Lucy, youth mentor, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Other volunteers

People helping out with the Dojo without taking on a champion or mentor role.

Champions and mentors are volunteers, and so are people who support the Dojo by helping out with ticketing, setting up Dojo sessions or tidying up afterwards, running social media, or anything else needed to make the Dojo happen!

Parents and guardians

Most Dojos either encourage or require parents or guardians to stay for the Dojo session rather than only dropping their children off and picking them up. This is particularly true for parents or guardians of younger Ninjas, i.e. those under 13. Parents and guardians can be extremely helpful in case Ninjas forget a password or need an email address or website account as part of a project.

Since they’re often at the Dojo anyway, parents and guardians are a great source of potential volunteers, mentors, and champions. As CoderDojo co-founder Bill Liao says, “CoderDojo is free, but it’s not a free ride!”

Do you have any mentors or volunteers recruited for your Dojo already? Where might you find them? Let us know in the comments!

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