Fun At the CyberCamp – AFA CyberCamp McKendree

By Emily Layeski, Office Coordinator for MC2

It has officially been one week since the McKendree CyberCamp!  Time is just flying by so fast.  As I reflect on what happened during the camp, I am so thankful for the hard work of our wonderful volunteers, tech mentors, and coaches who worked to make this camp a success.  It would not have been possible without their time and effort!

I was amazed by the amount of middle-high schoolers that attended this camp!  We had over 140 students in attendance which made this our largest cybercamp to date.  The best part of the camp for me was watching them have fun while learning.  The students learned everything from online safety to Ubuntu security in just a week’s time.  CyberPatriot’s curriculum is great because it not only teaches students about cybersecurity but also builds on the knowledge they learn.  Many of our students grew even more confident using a computer and could effectively navigate it quicker than some adults could!

During the camp, I noticed some personal growth in myself as well as the students.  When I first started working at the Midwest Cyber Center last year, I admit I had very little technical experience.  Thanks to their apprenticeship program, I was able to help our students with the more technical assignments such as helping them navigate through Command Line successfully.  Although I was happy to see the change in myself, I was even happier to see the students’ faces light up with understanding.

By the end of Thursday’s camp, the students were excited and eager to try their hands at Friday’s competition.  Some of the students were even trying to convince the volunteers to let them stay and compete on Thursday instead of Friday.  If it wasn’t for it being close to the end of the camp for the day, I think the students would have pushed to start the competition on Thursday.

When the students came in Friday morning, they received their instructions for the competition and quickly started earning points for their team.  The teams consisted of 3-5 students and we had at least 28 teams competing against each other for 1st Place.  Considering that the volunteers were unable to help the teams during the competition (unless there was a technical issue), our students did fantastic on their own!  The results of the competition were as follows:

1st Place Team:  Ellington Holley, Arianna Zimmerman, Michael Zimmerman, Evita Zimmerman, and Christopher Hoffman

2nd Place Team:  Katy Morgan, Julianne Evitts, Suzie Luehmann, and Noah Hubler

3rd Place Team:  Trevor Zobrist, Joseph Kluemke, Ian Hubble, Cole Gill-Kemper, and Henry Bass

At the end of the competition we announced the winners and took a group photo.  We also took pictures throughout the camp and competition, all of which can be found here:  McKendree CyberCamp Photos

This cybercamp was a huge success and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful volunteers!  Thank you to our partners Scott Air Force Base, Eagle Technology, Aegis Strategies, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Emerson Electric for providing us with the best volunteers!  Thank you to McKendree University as well for allowing us to hold the camp at their facility!

As I reflect on this past week, I’m both happy and excited for the futures of the students who joined us.  Matthew Rosenquist’s quote comes to mind when I think of these young talented individuals: “Cybersecurity may be fought with technology, but it is people who triumph.  We must invest in the future generations of professionals who will carry on the fight.”