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Cabrillo Offers a Free Summer Camp for Students to Spark Early Interest in Technology

By Teresa Ruiz Decker

May 21, 2019 — Aptos, CA

Who says tech camps have to be expensive? Cabrillo’s Cybersecurity summer camp offers local youth the chance to learn new skills and dive into a growing tech field early — all for free!

Ahhh summer time. The idea of endless sunshine, ice cream cones, and days spent at the beach can have both kids and parents counting down the days till school is out. As much as parents love summer, every parent understands the stress of finding ways to fill the long stretches of time children have off from school. For many, day camps are a go-to option but, the price tag for camps can be hefty — ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per child. That’s what makes Cabrillo College’s Cybersecurity camp such a rare find. The five-day, tech-focused camp for 6th-12th graders offers two sessions in June and July from 9 am-3 pm, free.

Did I mention they have early drop-off starting at 8 am? You read that right. A free, local, tech camp by our local community college that will even let you drop off early.  If you’re a working parent, an 8 am drop-off could be a life-saver. And that’s the point says Dean of Dean, Career Technical Education & Workforce Development Gerlinde Brady. Cabrillo’s Cybercamp is here to serve the community and encourage early learning in technology.

“Cybersecurity is a field with pathways to many different well-paying careers. The summer cyber camps provide early, hands-on career exploration for students headed for college and the workforce one day,” said Brady. “Campers also learn about online safety in a fun way. Parents see the value in and appreciate both the safety and the fun factors for their children.”

If you’re worried your kid is not techy enough, don’t let that deter you from registering for the camp says the Cabrillo College team. The camp offers introductory and advanced sessions to ensure all students can participate. For the introductory course, only basic computer experience and an interest in cybersecurity are needed. Each day offers up a combination of interactive lessons and hands-on cyber games and simulations. During each week-long program, campers learn basic computer digital forensics, defensive security, and cryptography. The last day is a competition with teams from the other CyberCamps. Students love the realistic simulations, games, rich information, and the opportunity to have friendly competitions in an encouraging environment.

The Bay Area Community College Consortium (Cabrillo is a member) has been hosting these CyberCamps around the Greater Bay Area since 2016 with the goal of exciting students new to cybersecurity about career opportunities, teach them essential cyber defense skills through hands-on instruction and activities, and to show them opportunities for further learning. In 2017, the region held 12 camps that served 600 students. In 2018, the region held 26 camps that served 1200 students. This year, the region is holding 40 camps.

Cabrillo began offering their CyberCamps in 2017 and remains home of one of the largest Bay Area Cyber Competitions programs for youth.

“The majority of summer computer camps focus on programming or robotics,” said Computer Information Systems Instructor Irvin Lemus. “Few focus solely on cybersecurity, let alone provide a space for students to see what they can do with technology and their career possibilities. Similar camps can cost up to $1,000 or more. That’s what makes this camp so unique and valuable to our community.”

Thankfully, Cabrillo’s CyberCamp is funded through California’s Strong Workforce Program. Which means parents around the county can grab an ice cream cone and enjoy some much-needed summer camp cost relief.

Find more information contact Irvin Lemus at irvin.lemus@cabrillo.edu. To register for Cybersecurity Camp visit Cabrillo Extension at https://www.cabrillo.edu/services/extension/youthtechnology.html

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Teresa Ruiz Decker is a mother of two and marketing and communications consultant for nonprofits, higher education, and social good organizations. She is also scrambling to find summer activities and loves writing about social good, diversity, equity and closing opportunity gaps.

This article will also be published in Growing Up in Santa Cruz in June.

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