On the surface level, this seems like the kind of zeitgeisty opportunistic cash-grab we’ve come to expect from 21st-century shysters: Find something that’s insanely popular with kids that their parents probably don’t “get” (i.e. complain about in terms of “when I was your age”) and build a program around it.
Is a YouTube summer camp that bad of an idea? I don’t think so. I can see how the parental cohort that would rather their kids go outside and play might not grok the benefit of a pie-in-the-sky promise of online superstardom, and while that is obviously the advertised undertone, there’s a far more beneficial outcome that could be had here. Let’s break down what a kid could learn from a YouTube summer camp:
- Difference between 720p, 1080p, and 4K, and the tech needed for each.
- Audio recording and mixing as well as the best hardware for the job.
- Lighting for video and photography, and by extension, color balancing.
- Effects like chroma-keying, titling, graphic design, and motion graphics.
- Video editing, both the mechanical act of cutting and splicing digital video and the theories and practices behind making an engaging video from what to parents might look like just a bunch of fooling around with a video camera.
- Marketing, which might be the only part of the package that could be questionable as it involves a lot of social media use that might transcend household rules on a kid by kid basis.
I’m in the camp that often frowns when I see something presented in video form that could have been better framed in prose, but as you might have noticed I have a new-found fascination with video. The entire premise of YouTube and Twitch and similar outlets is that anyone can make a video, which is absolutely true — but not everyone can make a good video. A summer camp that takes its mandate seriously would be teaching kids the kinds of skills that 21st-century society is demanding, and as someone who has had to cobble together this kind of information piecemeal by myself in my newfound interest in video production, having a guiding hand through this complicated field is way more beneficial than beachfront arts and crafts or learning how to make the perfect s’more.
 Now, of course, we have to guard against those who are coming out of the woodwork to capitalize on what’s trending among an age group that will hound their parents to the ends of the Earth if they believe in the promise of online superstardom. We’re living in an age when predators are calling us on our home phones and are successfully tricking people into sending them thousands of dollars in iTunes gift cards, so it’s not unreasonable to be skeptical when seeing a program like this on offer. But that just means that it’s part of the fabric of our society now, and we all have to perform the proper due diligence, especially where our kids are involved. But then again, even the Boy Scouts have a Moviemaking merit badge.