PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s not every day you hear about a summer camp sponsored in part by the National Security Agency.

There’s no sports, but maybe a little espionage in GenCyber, a unique program at Pace University that introduces high school teachers and students to the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity.

The NSA is looking for the next generation of data defenders.

“They’ve got these camps going all over the United States. They thought by 2018 maybe they’d have 100 and this year they have 130. So it’s big,” student advisor Nancy Treuer said. “We had 150 kids apply for 30 spots. We represent 26 high schools here this summer, which is huge.”

Treuer said the NSA is looking to fill jobs.

“They don’t have a workforce big enough with the cybersecurity and they want people trained,” Treuer said. “They’re learning how the hackers are working and they’re learning how to protect yourselves from hackers.”

Pace professor Li-Chou Chen said the government is providing resources “to train our students, to encourage them to think more critically, and to develop that ability to work as a cybersecurity professional in the future.”

Professor Pauline Mosley starts with the basics including “security, privacy, information hiding.”

The teens don’t actually do any hacking, instead they work with simulations.

“My favorite part has been coding in encrypted messages, also I’ve learned how to build robots and we’ve really learned how to communicate with each other,” said one student, who hopes to work for the government someday.

Another senior, who also hopes to be employed by the government, knows enemies of the state are at the firewall.

“It’s extremely scary, they always make their coding harder and we have to make ours stronger,” the student said.

Pace requested that students’ identities are not revealed.


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