Three tech experts and their computers

Safelisting, Moderation, and Rapid Response Patching: Behind the Scenes with Connected Camps’ Tech and Safety Team

Maintaining a safe and friendly Minecraft server where kids have the freedom to play and build together takes a lot of behind the scenes work. Whether they’re in our free Kid Club Minecraft server or joining one of our programs in Minecraft, Roblox, or esports, your kids (and you) should be worry-free. From the way we safelist and moderate our servers, to the way our tech team responds to external issues, to the way we hire and train counselors, we’re working to give your kids the best possible online experience.

Safelisting and Moderation

Kids love to create in Minecraft. The connections they form with others as they build and play online become true friendships. Just as you keep a careful eye on your kids’ friends and interactions in real life, we do the same here.

In Kid Club, step one to joining is to provide some basic information in order to be “safelisted.” This is the first line of defense for our servers, since it means we screen new arrivals to make sure they are appropriate for our community. Following their arrival to the server, new campers go through a tutorial area that outlines the rules and expectations on the server so that they understand what is and isn’t allowed. You might want to review this similar guide that we wrote for parents.

The main way kids communicate in the server is via chat. There’s an automatic spam filter, plus our moderators are able to see messages and remove them or issue chat warnings if needed. Other methods of communicating (through Minecraft’s blocks or items) are also moderated via counselors with the help of server plugins.

Campers can raise any concerns they have with counselors at any time via Minecraft chat, TeamSpeak, or a ‘help’ command. Our moderators are always present in the server. They keep the atmosphere positive, productive, and fun. If someone’s behavior is “off,” the moderators address the person in question. They’ll generally move campers to the ‘resort’ which is a calming space where a counselor and camper(s) can talk and resolve the issue.

Generally, a comment is enough to help the person know to adjust their tone or actions. Occasionally, the behavior persists and the child needs to be temporarily removed from the server. One errant person is never going to be allowed to throw off the positive vibe. Kid Club was designed to be a safe space for kids to hang out with friends, and we’re careful to maintain that atmosphere.

Rapid Response Updates and Patches

Technology is constantly being updated and improved. As hard as companies work to release products that are bug-free and completely locked down, an error can be uncovered and needs to be fixed or “patched” by end users. At Connected Camps, we stay up to date with the latest in games and tech and tackle any challenges immediately.

Back in December, a vulnerability was uncovered that affected all Minecraft servers. Thomas, one of our counselors, known by his gamer tag “XDarkDiamond” first alerted our tech team of the issue. “Log4j” was a concern for us on Kid Club because it could interact with people’s PCs through the chat. The exploit affected all Minecraft servers and clients, so virtually everyone connected to a Minecraft server was vulnerable. As an initial precaution, we paused adding new campers to the safelist.

Our tech team, composed of our Assistant System Administrator Megan Timmermann and Technology Director Victor Lazo, spent the night researching ways to patch the issue. Once a fix was issued by the server providers and Mojang, they immediately went to work. They downloaded and installed patches and tested them thoroughly, ensuring security on all Connected Camps Minecraft servers including Kid Club within less than 24 hours.

This highlights a good reason for kids to play on our Kid Club server vs. their own or others that aren’t as carefully managed. Kids who were playing Minecraft in other places with less rigorous processes were at risk of exposure to the vulnerability until a patch was implemented.

Counselors Who Care

Our counselors are young educators with just as much passion and enthusiasm for gaming and technology as our campers! They bring diverse experiences and expertise to our programs. They come up with fun ideas and challenges for Kid Club, in addition to leading our more structured camps, courses, and clubs.

All counselors are background checked, carefully selected from a competitive recruitment process, and thoroughly trained to ensure that programs are safe, inclusive, informative, and engaging. As one parent told us, “The teacher was wonderful with a fairly rowdy group of kiddos!” Heather’s child joined one of our Minecraft clubs. She said “The instructor did a good job explaining what to do and keeping everyone on track. The class was a good mix of free play and fun and learning. Thank you!”

Carter is one of our counselors. He recently earned a degree in Child Psychology and Literature. Carter said, “Connected Camps has given me the incredible opportunity to apply my education in helping our kids learn and form friendships across the world, even in the middle of the pandemic. It feels great to be in a position to support other counselors who have been there for me both in and out of the classroom, to listen to them, to improve the experiences we provide to all of our campers.”

Connected Camps was founded by two parents who love tech and understand the importance of a safe and fun environment. That’s why we’re always fine-tuning our programs, ensuring staff is well-trained, and protecting kids through a blend of human and technical means. Our goal is to provide your family a safe and fun online space to play and create through Connected Camps.