Kids dive into tech at summer camp

Geek Squad Summer Academy to host nearly 10,000 kids across the U.S. this summer

Geek Squad Academy

Geek Squad Summer Academy

Getting kids comfortable with and curious about technology -- that’s the goal of the Geek Squad Summer Academy. Now in its sixth year, the summer camp launched its 2012 season in early June in Bladensburg, Md., and will cover 40 cities before it wraps up in late August.

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Geek Squad Academy

New curriculum every summer

Classes cover fun topics such as creating digital photography, videos and music, plus fundamental tech subjects such as network connectivity. “The curriculum is rewritten from scratch every single year, because technology moves so fast. Whatever we ran last summer is obsolete when we get to this summer,” says Moira Hardek, senior manager of Geek Squad Academy.

Geek Squad Academy

Making tech accessible

The curriculum is geared for kids ages 10 to 16 who are familiar with but not proficient in tech, Hardek says. “They’re intimidated by technology. They use it, but they don’t understand it. That’s the market that we’re looking for.”

Geek Squad Academy

Employee involvement

Local Geek Squad and Best Buy employees volunteer their time to work at the camps. “It creates great relationships between the agents and the employees and the people in the community,” Hardek says.

Geek Squad Academy

Break-fix challenges

Every class has a troubleshooting component. If a PC won’t boot, or it boots too slowly, the kids have to figure out why. “We like to create problems for them all throughout camp, and they have a lot of fun solving the problems,” Hardek says.

Geek Squad Academy

Military presence

For the second year, Geek Squad Summer Academy, in conjunction with the White House Joining Forces initiative, is hosting camps at a handful of U.S. military bases, including Fort Meade in Maryland (pictured). “We edited our curriculum a little for them,” Hardek says. “We put a big focus on connectivity and communications: how to stay in touch with your family members and how to share your experiences here with your family members who are deployed.”

Geek Squad Academy

Junior achievers

Graduates of the Summer Academy are dubbed junior Geek Squad agents, and a few kids have gone on to become full Geek Squad agents once they’re old enough. “You may not necessarily need to build a computer, but being able to physically put one together, see what all the parts do and how they interact, makes you a little less scared, gives you a baseline understanding,” Hardek says. See the story version.