Summer camps for children are almost always great experiences: youngsters step away from their normal routines, see new things, make new friends and build confidence by doing things they hadn’t considered before.

There’s a camp taking place in Madison this week that includes all those things and more. It’s the “GenCyber Girls in CybHER Security” camp at Dakota State University, attracting more than 120 girls from 10 states. They are staying on campus and, from what we’ve seen so far, are inspired by the programs and having a great time.

To inspire is actually one of the stated goals of the camp, as in inspiring the next generation through hands-on exploration of cybersecurity concepts and activities, including Digital Forensics, Cryptography, Privacy Awareness and Block Coding. It may sound sort of nerdish, but these are bright, social 6th- through 9th-graders, who we would guess could enjoy a camp focused on anything.

The bonus is that they’re learning real-world skills that will pay off for many decades. They learn not only today’s cyber skills but, more importantly, the skills to learn, explore and adapt to whatever comes their way throughout a working career. With all due respect to pole vaulting camps and shot put camps, this week’s experience could last a lifetime. In fact, if they choose cybersecurity as a career, they could save lives.

The keynote speaker, Bridget Bean, a cybersecurity specialist, emphasized another important characteristic: teamwork. “You can solve a problem, but if you do it by yourself and I do it by myself, it’s not going to be the best solution,” she said.

We’re excited about the potential of this week’s camp at DSU. We’d guess the campers have bright futures ahead of them.

— Jon M. Hunter