Middle School FAQs

Engaging and Empirical Education

STEM camps are designed to educate and entertain middle school students as they develop social and scientific skills.

Many of your questions will be answered below, but let us know if you have more.

1. May I sign my student up on the first day of camp?

Register early. Each camp has limited space and most camps fill up very early–many sell out a month or more in advance. If you haven’t pre-registered and to avoid disappointment on the first day of camp, we recommend you phone (509) 372-7123 to see if there is space available.

2. How do I decide what camp is appropriate for my student?

Consider your student’s interests when choosing a camp. All science and engineering camps are designed to be equally appropriate for boys and girls. Our camps are targeted toward students who are ages 10-14. Camp activities are active and are filled with hands-on experiences. They require students to have grade-level reading, comprehension, and math skills. They are taught in English by certified teachers.

3. What if my student isn’t within the required age range of 10-14?

Our camps are designed to be a safe, comfortable and fun learning experience for all campers. We strive to ensure that students are appropriately challenged and recognize that some students may not have yet reached age 10 but are socially-aware, mature, and educationally-ready for these camps. We will consider a request for a student, under the age of 10, if he or she has a MAP score of >215 in reading and >220 in math during spring term testing. In addition, we require a teacher recommendation to help us better understand if this student would be ready to fully participate in the summer STEM camp experience. Ask for a Teacher Recommendation form by contacting the Summer Session office at (509) 372-7123.

4. Who designs the camp curriculum?

Our goal is to ensure the highest quality learning experiences for our students.

We conducted a national search for curriculum that would be current and engaging, meet national and state standards, and would challenge our students. For the majority of our camps, we selected specific learning experiences from among those offered by a range of nationally-recognized companies, curriculum developed by Federally-funded university experts, and activities created by national professional organizations and societies.

5. Who teaches the camps?

Teaching at summer camp is a highly sought after opportunity so we can be very selective in hiring our teachers. We seek teachers who have a passion for and experience in teaching hands-on science and engineering. They must also have a track record of success in managing a diverse classroom. 100% of our teachers have current teaching credentials in the State of Washington. Over 80% of our teachers have at least one advanced degree. All have passed rigorous background investigations.

6. What is the student to teacher ratio?

There is typically one certified teacher and one camp counselor for every 24-30 campers.

7. How is the camp staff selected?
  • Teachers: First, we promote any teaching position openings within public and private schools, colleges and universities in our region. Then, we put our potential teachers through a two-step screening process. Some of our requirements are STEM teaching experience, skills in problem-based learning, and enthusiasm for hands-on learning. In addition, once individuals are background and reference checked, instructors are required participate in curriculum and safety training.
  • Counselors: Our Camp Counselors are adult students at WSU Tri-Cities. All counselors have passed a background investigation and are required to participate in curriculum and safety training.
  • Volunteers: All potential volunteers must be at least age 16, and must complete an application and interview process. Volunteers typically include students from area high schools, teacher education students from WSU and Heritage University, industry professionals, and retired professionals. Volunteers provide valuable assistance for our camps and are wonderful role models for our campers. Volunteers are always supervised by paid camp staff when with our campers.
8. What is the Information Packet?

The Student Information Packet is a critical part of the registration process. Once completed, it will contain important information that will help our staff coordinate the best possible experience at camp for your student. Because we value privacy and some information we ask for is confidential, the Student Information Packet will only be shared with WSU staff on a “need to know” basis.

Please do not email or upload the Student Information Packet online. 

Instructions for downloading, completing, and submitting the Student Information Packet may be found here. We must have one Student Information Packet mailed to our campus for each student in order to reserve their seat. We are unable to permit students to participate in camp if we do not receive it.

9. Are snacks and lunch provided?

Yes, lunch will be served for each day, every camp. Healthy snacks will also available during break time. The cost is included in the price for registering for all STEM camps. Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle clearly labeled with their name; water is the only beverage allowed in the classrooms and only in transparent bottles. Food is not allowed in the classrooms and both food and beverages are not allowed in the computer laboratory.

We will consider your student’s special dietary needs when serving lunch as questions related to food allergies and intolerances are included on the first page of the Student Information Packet.

Students are welcome to bring their own lunch marked with the their name. Unfortunately, we do not have refrigerated storage for use by students but a microwave is available for student use.

There is a 1-hour lunch break for students.

If you have any questions about lunch or snacks served, please contact the Summer Session office at (509) 372-7123.

10. What does my student need to bring to camp?

Remember to:

  • Bring a backpack or sturdy bag, clear water bottle, hat and sunscreen (all marked with your family name). Only clear water bottles are allowed in the classroom. Other beverages and beverage containers are allowed in lunch bags for drinking during the lunch period.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes that are appropriate for active and sometimes messy camp activities. Short shorts, low necklines, dresses, open-toed sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for camp participation.

We discourage bringing personal items such as games, toys, or electronics as these can be distracting to other students. Note that we are not responsible for the damage or loss of any personal item.

11. What should my camper wear?

It is important that campers are comfortable so they can concentrate on participating. Many experiments will have wet or messy or active components. We recommend casual clothes such as jeans or shorts. To ensure safety, we require that all campers wear closed toe shoes.

Students with open-toed shoes may be asked to not participate in camp activities until they make arrangements for other foot ware to be delivered to camp and are able to change into closed-toed shoes.

12. Do you provide transportation?

Washington State University Tri-Cities does not provide transportation to or from camp.  Parents must provide transportation for their camper. Some families purchase bus passes from Ben-Franklin Transit; see http://www.bft.org/products-page/product-category/bus-pass-summer-youth-pass/.

13. Could my student use public transportation (Ben Franklin Transit)?

Ben Franklin Transit serves the WSU campus. The transit system allows children, age 6 and older, to ride the bus unaccompanied by an adult. Ben Franklin Transit’s bus operators are trained to assist riders and assure they arrive at their destination.

A covered bus stop is located on Sprout Road adjacent to the WSU campus and Hanford High School. The stop is identified with a blue, gold, and white sign with the Transit logo and indicates Route 26.

From the Knight Street Transit Center in Richland Bus 26 (indicating route 26) services the WSU campus.

For the arrival of the all day and morning session camps, the route 26 bus leaves the Knight Street Transit Center at 8:15am and arrives at the Sprout Rd bus stop at 8:25am.

For the arrival of the afternoon session camps, the route 26 bus leaves the Knight Street Transit Station at 12:45pm and arrives at the Sprout Rd bus stop at 12:55pm.

For the departure of the morning session camps, the route 26 bus arrives at the Sprout Rd bus stop at12:25pm.

For the departure of the all day and afternoon session camps, the route 26 bus arrives at the Sprout Rd bus stop at 4:47pm.

The student will be responsible to walk to and from the bus stop to the camp unaccompanied by an adult.

Please check with Benton-Franklin Transit to verify routes and times.

It is the parents’ responsibility to purchase and arrange bus transportation. For information call 509-735-5100 or visit www.bft.org.

If your camper will be using the bus for any transportation to or from camp, you must indicate so on the Student Information Packet.

14. What do I need in order to pick-up my student at the end of each camp day?

Please pick up your student promptly at the end of camp each day; no after camp care is provided.

For the safety of our campers, we require photo identification from each parent/guardian every day for every camper. While we might know you by name and have seen you a dozen times, please do not be offended when we continue to ask for photo identification.

Whomever comes to pick up a camper must be listed on that camper’s Student Information Packet and must also show photo identification; if he/she is not listed, we will not be able to release the camper to that person’s care.

Campers are released by a staff member only to those persons authorized by the parent/guardian on the Student Information Packet. Anyone checking out a student from camp must sign out the student and show picture identification each day.

The only exception to this policy occurs when parents/guardians provide written authorization for their student to be released from the above policy because of the student’s use of public transportation or transportation via bicycle; this is provided by the parent/guardian on the Student Information Packet, page 3. If your student will be using one of these alternative forms of transportation and will not be picked up from camp, you must provide authorization as noted above.

15. May I stay with my student?

Parents/guardians may walk with their student’s group to the designated classroom on the first day to ensure their student is seated comfortably. Parents/guardians are always welcome to observe their student from outside of the classroom. However, we have found that giving your student enough space to allow them to interact with other students creates a better camp experience.

16. How do I know what my student is doing at camp?

A weekly schedule describes the projects and activities for the week. Parents/guardians, grandparents, siblings, and other friends, are invited to come to “Big Event” on Friday of each camp week to interact with your student with projects and activities he/she has been learning during the week. The time and location of Big Event will be on the curriculum sheet as well as posted on bulletin boards outside of the check-in/out station.

You can reinforce what your student has learned each by asking questions about that day’s projects, when your student returns home after camp, or having him or her explain that day’s concepts to you and to other siblings.

17. What is the “Big Event?”

Each camp culminates with a “Big Event” on Friday. We invite the family and friends of our campers to campus to see the action and take pictures of these fun events. Big Events typically last between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the size of the group. More information is available on the camp website and is posted by the check-in/out station.

18. Can I attend a rocket launch?

The best way to attend a rocket launch is to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Remember to bring your camera, sunscreen, hat, and a lounge chair. Rocket launch is held on the athletic fields of Hanford High School. Take George Washington Way until you reach Sprout Road. Look for the white tents along Sprout Road. Parking is at the curb. Please exercise caution when leaving your car and crossing the road to reach the launch site.

19. Do the students leave the camp site?

Camper safety is our number one priority. For this reason, students do not leave the campus during camp hours until they are checked out of camp by an authorized parent or guardian. No off-campus field trips are associated with these camps.

20. How are restroom breaks conducted?

Restroom use is encouraged at the morning and afternoon breaks and at lunch. Should a student need to use the restroom at any other time, precautions are taken to ensure camper security. Middle-school campers must request permission to leave the classroom for restroom use; one camper at a time will be released during non-break periods as bathroom buddies are not allowed.

21. Do you provide before and/or after camp care?

We do not provide care before or after camp sessions. Please arrange prompt drop-off and pick-up of your student.

22. What happens if my student is involved in a disciplinary issue?

We reserve the right to remove from camp any student who is disruptive. Inappropriate language and/or behavior will not be tolerated. If a student is unable to correct his/her behavior, we may call the parent/guardian to pick up the student before the end of the camp day. Any student who persists in disruptive behavior may be dismissed from camp without any refund of fees.

23. What happens if my student is late for the start of camp?

If this should occur, the student should seek out a camp staff member to check-in and catch up. Your student may miss important instructions so please make every attempt to be prompt each day.

24. What is your electronics policy?

Phones:  To maximize learning and minimize distractions, we require that cell phones are put in silent mode during camp.  Students may check messages and use their phones during breaks and at lunch.

Other electronic devices:  The use of ear buds, headphones and the playing of electronic games during camp does not support an active learning environment and could impact the safety of campers.  Hence, this use is prohibited.

Students who do not respect the requirements above will be given one reminder. After that time, the device may be put into the student’s backpack.  We reserve the right to remove from camp any student who is disruptive. Inappropriate language and/or behavior will not be tolerated. If a student is unable to correct his/her behavior, we may call the parent/guardian to pick up the student before the end of the camp day. Any student who persists in disruptive behavior may be dismissed from camp without any refund of fees.

25. Do I need to report my student’s absence?

While we appreciate advance notice, we know that the unexpected does happen. If your camper misses a day of camp let the instructors know the next day so they can help your student catch up.

26. What happens if my camper misses a day of camp?

Missing a day of camp means that the student will miss an important part of the learning process which may not be able to be “made-up.” For projects that are team based, the student’s team will proceed with work. If you notify us in advance, we can have camp staff work with your camper on potential catch-up work.

27. What do I do if I need to reschedule my student’s camp week?

Contact us right away if you need to reschedule your student’s camp week. Changes between camps are possible only on a space available basis. For an additional fee and based on space available, we can switch your reservation to another camp.

  • Notification of 30 days or more prior to the start of the originally scheduled camp: A $40 change fee per camp applies if changing camps at least 30 days prior to the start date of the originally-scheduled camp.
  • Notification of less than 30 days prior to the start of the originally scheduled camp: If you notify us less than 30 days prior to the start date of the originally scheduled camp, a $50 change fee per camp applies.

Please contact our Camp Registrar at 509-372-7123 to address any registration issues.

28. What if I need to cancel my student’s camp week?

A $125 fee per student per camp will be charged if you cancel a camp 30 or more days before the start date.

No refund will be given if you cancel less than 30 days prior to the start date.

Please contact our Camp Registrar at 509-372-7123 to address any registration questions.

29. What if my student has special needs?

Please indicate these needs in the Student Information Packet. If your student has special needs, some accommodations may be available so please let us know at least four weeks prior to the first class. Call us at 509-372-7123.

30. Will you give my student the medication he or she needs during the day?

We are unable to administer medication to students. If your student requires a dosage during camp hours, please make appropriate arrangements.

31. What if my student gets injured or ill while at camp?

The Lead Teacher will document any situation that results in an injury and will contact the parent/guardian as needed or, in an emergency, will contact 911 and then contact the parent/guardian.

32. Will I be able to contact my student if there is an emergency?

If there is an emergency situation and the parent must contact their student at camp they can call our Camp Registrar at 509-372-7123 or the campus general information line at 509-372-7000.

33. Is the camp staff trained in safety procedures?

All of our teachers and counselors have received safety training from WSU. The campus also has an emergency response plan (see http://tricities.wsu.edu/safety/) and an on-site Safety Manager.

Sign up today for a summer camp…