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Nsa Summer Camp: More Hacking Than Hiking

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While young people at other summer camps were enjoying weeks of swimming, crafts, and more, the participants at this N.S.A.-sponsored camp were learning tools and rules for cybersecurity.

The U.S. National Security Agency-sponsored GenCyber summer camp program is trying to cultivate an interest in cybersecurity among middle- and high school students.

Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has long recruited on college campuses and run collegiate programs, but with a new summer camp program supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, NSA is seeking to cultivate middle- and high-school student interest and proficiency in cybersecurity.

NSA began its GenCyber summer camp program last year by sponsoring six cybersecurity camps at colleges and universities. This year the program has expanded to 43 camps and its director, Steven LaFountain, hopes the program will include 200 camps in all 50 states by 2020.

The program has flexible guidelines, as NSA largely allows the colleges and universities running the camps to decide what topics and exercises to cover, although it does mandate the GenCyber camps be offered free of charge. For example, one of the camps focuses on building and programming drones, while another involves campers building their own computers.

"These kids are the ones that are going to be building the next products that we all rely on, the things we can't even imagine will exist in the future," LaFountain says.

The camps have proven popular so far, with long waiting lists in place.

From The New York Times
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