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Tech camp offers great opportunity and teachers

ORONO Video game and technology today has the ability to transport people into realms that defy imagination. High Touch Courses Technology Camp will allow young people a chance to hone their skills so they can be a part of making those worlds.

The camp offers four week-long courses, one in web design (July 7-11), one in 3D art and graphic design (July 14-18), one in game development (July 21-25) and one in hardware architecture (July 28-Aug. 1). Elizabeth Chabe, CEO of High Touch Group, noted that campers will enjoy high-caliber instructors, including the notable Chuck Carter, whose extensive background in the video gaming industry, working as an artistic designer for the iconic video game 'Myst.' Carter is currently working towards bringing more tech jobs to Maine with his own game design studio Eagre Games, which is currently working on the new title 'Curio.'

He hopes that this camp and others like it will start sowing the seeds for future generations of game designers.

'I have been to Husson and the University of Maine and I haven't found a core group of students that understand the needs [of game developers]. If we can start a seed here and develop a school that teaches computer graphics, programming, game design, we may be able to help bring more students to the area,' he said.

'If we can establish it, it will be the only thing like it in the state of Maine,' added Chabe. 'Since we moved he hired seven staffers, and it was tough. We tried advertising, and there was nothing. It's tough for anyone who didn't want to work off-site.'

The hope is to help foster a love for all things technological, but also start building the foundation for more tech-oriented careers right here in the Bangor area.

Chabe noted that there is a dearth of computer programmers in the area.

'When I talk to educators, I tell them we could pay someone $50,000 a year to be a developer, and we can't find them. It's fine to work with off-sites, but we pay people in New York a lot more,' she said.

Chabe said that they are looking for young people who really love the ins and outs of gaming and computers: the ones who get bored in class, because they know just a bit more than the teacher; the kind of kid who has great ideas, but doesn't know where to take them; the kind who has piles of sketchbooks filled to the brim with ideas, dreams and imaginary landscapes.

'I want the kid who is in his [or her] parents' garage, basement or bedroom starting his own company, or filling up sketchbook after sketchbook,' she said.

She recalled a time when she was keynoting a science project called Ovation Innovation, an experimental program to get kids interested in commercializing their own products.

'The ideas that came out of those kids' minds were so incredible web apps, products and services to market online,' she said. But they were all missing key elements, be it business development or marketing. She hopes to shore up that gap. 'We want to take the ideas for really cool products and get them to market. You don't have to be 45 and have a career. You can be 14, 16, 18. It doesn't have to be someday,' it can be immediately. We want to inspire those kids.'

Chabe said that in the future, in addition to the youth camps, High Touch will be looking to offer training and courses to adults as well.

'The summer camp is just the beginning. I hope it will be the cornerstone of a larger program the fun, once-a-year anchor. I want there to be online program that goes out to every kid I would also like to train more adults,' she said.

The cost for the camp varies, but there are very generous scholarship programs available to families in need. For more information about the summer camp, day camp and overnight options, visit hightouchcourses.com.

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