At Geek Squad Academy (GSA), anytime someone says the word “cool,” the response is always “very cool.”
This year, the Best Buy-sponsored educational program has something very cool to celebrate: 15 years of inspiring students around the country through interactive technology camps. Participants get to learn about coding, digital music, video game design and more during fun, hands-on activities. To commemorate the program’s anniversary, custom T-shirts and posters were designed with “15 Seasons of Very Cool” branding.
“It’s rewarding to see it change over the years,” said Agent and frequent GSA volunteer Ricky Noriega.
The program started with one weeklong summer camp in Chicago in 2007. Since then, GSA went from being a summer-only camp to a year-round program, with nearly 300 camps reaching more than 50,000 young people around the nation.
Powered by volunteers
Making it all possible is the passion and dedication of nearly 8,000 volunteers, many of whom are Best Buy employees like Ricky.
Customer care specialist Yobert Ramirez volunteered at his first GSA camp in 2015, where he led a robotics class. Since then, he’s given his time and expertise at more than 30 events.
“I’m proud to have been with Geek Squad Academy all these years,” he said. “I love to see all the kids learning about technology. They are the future.”
During the pandemic, GSA shifted gears to hold virtual camps for students. (A selection of virtual classes will remain available on the GSA website.) But this year, Geek Squad Academy and its volunteers are back in person. The first camp kicked off in Orlando, Florida, in mid-May. Several more camps are scheduled for this summer.
The GSA team has plans to expand and will continue accepting proposals for new camps, as well growing the program’s reach even further through the Best Buy Teen Tech Center® program.
How to host a GSA near you
Geek Squad Academy is accepting proposals for potential partners who might want to host in-person camps in 2023. Nonprofits must meet the following requirements:
- Enroll a minimum of 100 students and a maximum of 200 students. (Virtual camp requirements differ. Refer to GSA online.)
- Have a minimum of five volunteers from the organization who will be responsible for managing student behavior and facilitating smooth class-to-class transitions.
- Supply a facility that has:
- Availability for three consecutive days (one day for set up and two instruction days)
- Six to seven classroom spaces
- A large area for student lunch
- A large area for opening/closing ceremonies (can be the same as the lunch space)
- Tables and chairs to accommodate 20 students per classroom