Future huskers explore digital media and esports during Big Red Summer Camps

Monday, July 24, 2023 - 10:45am

by Ariana Joy Cobler

From June 11 to June 16, UNL's College of Journalism and Mass Communications hosted the Big Red Summer Camps with the Nebraska 4-H program.

High school students and recent graduates attended the camp to explore career paths in digital media and esports. Under the guidance of CoJMC faculty and staff members and student ambassadors, the campers practiced professional media creator skills.

"It was really fun meeting a lot of people from all over the state and the country," Esports camper Brody Schuster said.

Eight students attended the digital media camp, which was run by CoJMC's assistant director of recruitment, Alex Fernando. This unique experience allowed students to perform real-world media coverage of diverse topics that impact the Lincoln community.

CoJMC faculty teaching digital media campers how to use video and audio equipment to enhance their client profiles and websites. From left to right: Ashlyn Vazquez Catalan, Miranda Cook, Mitchell Brandt, Kaci Richter, Elias Enyard, Enyah Enyard

After grouping the campers into smaller teams, Fernando introduced them to their clients; the Lincoln Children's Museum, UNL's Outdoor Adventure Center and UNL Construction.

The esports summer camp is a new addition to the program and it was led by UNL Esports coach and CoJMC faculty member Ahman Green. This year's seven campers learned about the behind-the-scenes management and content creation of running an Esports event.

Esports campers learned how to utilize Esports livestreaming equipment. From left to right: Ahman Green, Dylan Rogers, Wesley Johns, Will Adams

"This camp gave Brody his real true first independent opportunity," Jane Schuster, mother of Brody Schuster, said. "He has a disorder called 22 q 11.2 deletion syndrome and with that comes a host of learning challenges or disabilities, but with esports, that really captures his attention."

Students learned how best to approach clients through workshops with faculty members on interviewing, equipment management and more. The student ambassadors also led workshops; for example, CoJMC student ambassador Tyler Hurst led a web design workshop.

"Tyler helped us a lot with our website; he taught me a lot about making websites and was just really helpful and nice," Esports camper Anas Gabari said.

Each group of campers produced video, photo and audio just like a media professional, regardless of which camp they had attended.

Digital media and esports campers worked alongside each other during certain workshops.

"I like that I get to work on high-level projects, conduct interviews and practice professionally working while putting out quality work," Digital media camper Mitchell Brandt said.

CoJMC ambassadors Lydia Hernandez and Bailey O'Brien helped Brandt and fellow digital media camper William Adams gather content about a new interactive exhibit at the Lincoln Children's Museum in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation. Brandt and Adams also interviewed museum staff and members.

"The most challenging part is probably getting five-year-olds to talk to us," Brandt said. "They're not people with many words, so, it's just something I need to practice with to get to know how they think." 

Digital media campers took cameras and audio equipment to construction sites to capture content on campus. From left to right: Miranda Cook, Ashlyn Vazquez Catalan, Enyah Enyard, Jacob Schrantz

Another digital media camp client was UNL Construction. CoJMC ambassador Jacob Schrantz led campers Miranda Cook, Ashlyn Vazquez Catalan and Enyah Enyard in their task to report on three of the many construction projects happening on campus.

"My favorite part was getting to suit up in a construction vest and hard hat," Enyard said. "It made me feel powerful."

The last digital media camp client was UNL's Outdoor Adventure Center. CoJMC students Ariana Joy Cobler, Henry Shore and Skylee Nelson helped campers Elias Enyard, Jackson Luethje and Ethan Meyer interview various staff members about adventure rock climbing and other outdoor activities.

Digital media campers interview a member of the Outdoor Adventure Center. From left to right: Elias Enyard, Jackson Luethje, Ethan Meyer

"I'm a hands-on learner, so learning how to use the equipment in a way that is similar to how professionals would use them was a lot of fun," Luethje said.

Esports campers utilize the Don and Lorena Meier studio to create a post-game show.

The esports campers used the media skills they learned during camp to produce a fully functional tournament. They learned how to make sponsorship deals, gather other advertising materials and professionally stream online. The campers worked together to distribute tasks and create a website for the mock event.

Esports campers recording game plays and playing games they've never played before camp. From left to right: Anas Gabari, Brody Schuster

Campers got to show their clients and parents their final projects at the end of camp. During their presentations, the students discussed their firsthand experiences with the clients and what it takes to be a media professional.

Jackson Luethje edits interview clips using Adobe Creative Cloud.

"It's a good opportunity for them to figure out if this is something they want to do or don't want to do and not have to spend college credits on it," Jen Luethje, Mother of Jackson Luethje said. "So, I think he's learned that it is something that he would like to pursue."

For other parents, the summer camp program gave them a good taste of what their children's lives might be like once they go off to college.

"We barely heard from him all week, which meant that he had a great time and just seeing his smiles. It was great to see that camaraderie and the connections he made while he presented with the other E-sports kids who were in attendance, so that's the best part," Jane Schuster said.

Campers present their projects to parents and staffers. From left to right: Eric Ricardez, Ahman Green, Will Adams, Brody Schuster, Anas Gabari, Wesley Johns, Shay Skalsky, Dylan Rogers.