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Cyber Paths Summer Camps Inspires Young Marines
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher
September 2, 2021

Young Marines Organization LogoMembers of the Young Marines Organization participated in the third annual Cyber Paths Summer Camps July 12 to Aug. 27, 2021, at the Quantico Cyber Hub in Triangle, Virginia.

The Young Marines Organization is a national youth program focused on leadership, citizenship through community service, self-discipline, and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

The Deputy Commandant for Information (DC I), in close partnership with the Young Marines Organization, developed the Cyber Paths concept to introduce today’s youth to cyber using three core components ... cyber skills, education and professional mentorship.

DC I hosted a series of five camps, in coordination with the Cyber Bytes Foundation, focusing on programming, robotics, 3D printing, drone operations and cyber security.

Members of the Young Marines build and operate a 3D printer during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, July 28, 2021. The Cyber Bytes Foundation, in partnership with the Deputy Commandant for Information (DC I) and the Young Marines Organization, hosted a series of five camps in programming, robotics, 3D printing, drone operations, and cyber security. The partnership enables cyber professionals the ability to serve as mentors throughout the five camps, introducing the youth of today to cyber in a meaningful and interactive way. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher)
Members of the Young Marines build and operate a 3D printer during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, July 28, 2021. The Cyber Bytes Foundation, in partnership with the Deputy Commandant for Information (DC I) and the Young Marines Organization, hosted a series of five camps in programming, robotics, 3D printing, drone operations, and cyber security. The partnership enables cyber professionals the ability to serve as mentors throughout the five camps, introducing the youth of today to cyber in a meaningful and interactive way. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher)

“A lot of these kids had no idea that cyber was actually in the realm of possibility for them,” said Master Sgt. Richard Zepeda, the Marine Corps Cyber Auxiliary (MCCA) operations chief with DC I. “That’s one of the benefits of these camps, just showing them there’s more than one thing you can do and planting that seed early.”

The Cyber Bytes Foundation’s mission is to establish and sustain a unique cyber ecosystem and to produce the education, innovation, and outreach programs to enhance developers and the cyber workforce.

With DC I serving as the principal advisor to the commandant of the Marine Corps on matters pertaining to Operations in the Information Environment (OIE), they are constantly seeking ways to find and integrate the newest technologies, processes and capabilities to ensure a competitive advantage.

Young Marines explore the virtual reality environment that they individually designed during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, August 5, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher)
Young Marines explore the virtual reality environment that they individually designed during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, August 5, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher)

“We are beyond knowing who our enemy is,” said Zepeda. “It’s not just red shirts and green shirts, where I know my enemy is across the field… It’s not like that anymore. We have a whole new maneuver space that we’re working in, and it’s cyber.”

Camp participants were able to learn about potential future cyber paths from a mix of active duty military, government employees and private commercial professionals.

Each week consisted of career exposure briefs, ethics classes and hands-on instruction by cyber experts, many of whom are volunteers with the MCCA. These highly talented individuals train, educate, assist, and mentor Marines in the constantly evolving cyber challenges, increasing Marine Corps cyberspace readiness.

“We bring in industry experts to come in and talk to the kids,” said Joel Scharlat, director of operations, Cyber Bytes Foundation. “If we’re learning about drones, we try to go out and find people who are in the drone industry, so that the kids can see… ‘What can I actually do?’”

A member of the Young Marines flies a drone during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, August 12, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Addysyn Tobar)
A member of the Young Marines flies a drone during the third annual Young Marines Cyber Paths Summer Camps at the Quantico Cyber Hub, Triangle, Virginia, August 12, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Addysyn Tobar)

The Cyber Paths Summer Camps allowed the Young Marines the ability to apply their cyber knowledge and skills on projects, even taking home their very own computers and 3D models.

“One of the kids from last year, has since started her own business,” Scharlat said. “She takes online orders from people who want to develop a logo… and she 3D prints them and sends them out… for the last year, she’s been running her own business.”

The partnership with DC I has given today’s youth the opportunity to excel in cyber, leaving the Young Marines with the resources to further pursue a career in the growing field of tomorrow’s cyber force.

Cyber professionals interested in the Marine Corps Cyber Auxiliary (MCCA) can apply online.

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