What Did You Do This Summer? These Kids Studied Internet Fame at Camp

What Did You Do This Summer? These Kids Studied Internet Fame at Camp

Kumbaya and a little app-based airbrushing.

By Megan Eileen McDonough

Now that summer's winding to a close, what kind of indelible memories did you make?

When I was a kid, summer camp meant sloppy joes and watering holes. There were no smartphones or selfie sticks to pack, and no social media followers to crave and court. All we wanted was an actual social life. How very analog, right?  

Well, that's not how it went for a lot of kids this summer, in the age of Instagram celebrity.

Consider that some kids spent their summers not merely snapping and posting to their feeds willy nilly — but some went to actual camp to perfect it.

The place is SocialStar Creator Campthe Internet-celebrity offshoot of an actor camp that takes place every summer in the Los Angeles area, as explained by The Verge. Its organizers have also expanded the program to Manchester and Melbourne, should you fancy a trip. And programs are also offered in winter in Las Vegas — so, if this story intrigues you, you won't have to wait a whole year to get started. (And hey, having something to look forward to might help you fight those end-of-summer blues.)

SocialStar is the brainchild of social worker and entrepreneur, Nichelle Rodriguez, and experienced YouTube personality, Michael Buckley. Together, they shaped a syllabus that covers the core fundamentals of social media star success — things like collaborations, monetization, networking, and perfecting your craft, whether it be vlogging or music.

If you're skeptical of the whole concept of Internet fame — or the very phrase makes you cringe — consider this: According to the Daily Mail, 75-percent of young people dream of becoming YouTubers and vloggers. The most popular profession was YouTuber, accounting for a full third of the 1,000 kids surveyed. The second most popular profession was blogger or vlogger, followed by musician or singer. Neither doctor or lawyer made the top five. And whatever happened to good old-fashioned veterinarian, or fireman?

Megan Farokhmanesh, Internet culture reporter at The Verge, interviewed a few of the campers this summer, many of whom reported being just so over Facebook, and were all about Instagram and Snapchat instead. She noted that campers come from all corners of the globe for a coveted spot at one of the three-day intense influencer camps; they traveled from Virginia, Colorado, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and Sweden.

For the most part, campers in this summer's edition ranged from seasoned pros — one singer has close to a million YouTube subscribers to date — right alongside newbies. SocialStar also splits campers into two age groups: College creators, ages 18 to 25, and high school creators, ages 14 to 18. That said, Farokhmanesh met a handful of tweens as well.

So, exactly how much will all of this set you back? A three-day program in Los Angeles costs $529 for day campers and $720 if you stay overnight. Longer programs range to about $2,000. But just think: That's nothing if you learn to monetize your content successfully.

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