STEM Summer Camp FAQs
If you are considering enrollment, please check out these frequently asked questions. For questions about how we’re adapting to best serve you during the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.
- +What is an Empow summer camp like?
Empow Summer Camp is the go-to program for kids who want to have a blast while becoming a tech whiz. Our campers engage in creative STEM projects such as designing video games, building robots, and even producing films and music. We harness and foster their passions, helping kids explore the wide world of technology to identify their strongest interests and build their confidence. As they get older, they will rise to demanding challenges, using technology to think more analytically, communicate more effectively, and solve problems more creatively. This is all while collaborating with others, having fun, and gaining the mastery for a bright future.
- +What is new this summer?
Your awesome feedback has led us to add a wealth of new options for our middle-school-aged campers. These options allow them to dive deeper into areas of interest and succeed in tackling more challenging projects. We bolstered our most popular exploratory programs to help kids gain experience across a range of technologies. We added a series of paths in video game design and robotics that enables us to pull together campers that are most enthusiastic about these domains, giving them access to our most technically savvy instructors. We have LIVE Virtual Camps for each of our programs this year.
- +What do the children do all week?
Campers will explore and further their digital and technological skills. They could be designing and coding video games, producing stop-motion animated films, sculpting and printing 3D models, building and programming LEGO robots, creating virtual and augmented reality applications, designing dream homes, modding in Minecraft, or finishing any number of other tech projects across the STEM spectrum. It all depends on what program path they select.
- +What technology or equipment does my child need for camp?
For our on-campus programs, Empow provides all the technology each camper needs for their particular program. We supply each camper with a Windows-equipped laptop and any necessary software for graphic design, architecture, engineering, animation, etc. We also have a wide selection of equipment/tools such as webcams, audio headsets, digital drawing pads, microphones, green screens, LEGO blocks, art supplies, and more. The technology specifics will depend on your child’s program. We strongly discourage campers from bringing portable game consoles or devices that may distract them from the camp experience. We ask that campers keep a phone in their backpacks for emergency use only.
For LIVE Virtual Camps, here’s what campers will need:
1.Computer with microphone, speakers and internet. If you have used your computer for Webex, Facetime, or used the audio collaboration features in Fortnite or Minecraft you’re probably all set. A more detailed technical spec is available here. Chromebooks and tablets will only work for specific camps where indicated below.
2.Zoom. You can download the free Zoom application here. Even if you already have Zoom installed, we recommend creating a new free account for your child.
3.TalentBox. Empow’s online curriculum and learning management system, Talent Box, is accessible and fully functional on any web browser. We will provide a log-in after you register.
4.Application software. Empow teaches its students to code, create movies, build video games, architect buildings, design in Minecraft and more in industry-standard software.
5.Robotics kits and other supplies. When you enroll in a particular class, we will clearly identify if additional, course-specific supplies are needed, and provide clear instructions on where and how to purchase them.
- +What is your refund policy?
Empow has an excellent refund policy. We will grant a refund up to two weeks before your registered camp session runs. If you need to cancel within that two-week period, we will also grant a refund if someone from the waiting list takes your child’s spot. There will be no refund if your child’s space does not get filled within that two-week period. Our complete refund policy can be found here.
- +Do the children work on computers all day?
Absolutely not! Kids need breaks, snacks, lunch, exercise, games, and opportunities to make friends with kids during less structured time. Both on-campus and LIVE virtual camps include fun off-screen activities.
- +What is the difference between a full-day virtual camp and a half-day virtual camp?
Our small camp size makes it easy to run both full-day virtual camps and half-day virtual camps. Full-day virtual camps provide our campers with more project time, more technology instruction, and the opportunity to socialize during lunch break.
- +My child doesn't know anyone at camp. Will they get a chance to meet other kids?
One of the things that make Empow so great is how our environments allow kids to collaborate, share ideas, and make friends. Our expert staff excels at engaging kids in an open, easy-going manner, helping them interact with peers, and fostering a comfortable welcome environment. Our daily schedules balance productivity and social time through interactive activities, break times, and team-ups between campers who share common interests.
- +Is each Empow camp only one week long?
Most of our camps run for one week, yet many are designed so that students may enroll in the same programs for as many weeks as they would like. They can also take different programs throughout the summer. The course of study is project-oriented and personalized, so campers can easily explore new concepts in the same camp for more than one week while never repeating projects. We also offer programs for more advanced campers that are structured as two-week sessions: Video Game Development 101-102, VR Game Design for Unity and C#, and our collaborative sessions at Artisan’s Asylum.
- +Who are your instructors?
With our year-round programs, we are able to hire, develop and retain far better instructors than are available from many similar summer-only organizations. We pride ourselves on employing some of the most dynamic people with deep competencies in child education/development, technology, and fun! They provide in-depth technical support, build safe and supportive environments, foster collaboration, and support a wide range of ages and learning styles. We continually hear from parents how our instructors “spoke their kids’ language” and provided a mentor and role model that made them even more excited to learn about technology.
- +What do campers do about lunch?
At our on-campus locations, we require campers to bring a sack lunch and two snacks for two break periods each day. For our LIVE Virtual sessions, campers who want to eat with their family can be checked out by parents.
- +What if my child forgets to bring their lunch?
No worries, it happens! You are welcome to drop off lunch later that morning (our lunchtime is 12pm), or give us a call and we can arrange to have lunch ordered and delivered from a local eatery for your child.
- +Should my child bring sunscreen?
We take UV protection seriously. Weather permitting, campers will spend some time outside and should arrive with sunscreen already applied and enough to be reapplied. If your camper forgets sunscreen, we will provide it for them.
- +How many adults are present to supervise my child?
We fix our camps at a 8:1 ratio of students to instructors for our elementary-school age campers, and 10:1 for our middle- and high-school aged campers. We believe that this low camper-to-instructor ratio provides campers with the very best support.
- +How is security?
You can trust that our camps are safe and secure. We intentionally hold our camps either at our studios or on local school and community-group campuses with trusted partners. These locations allow us to provide greater control over safety because they are not congested with people that you would typically find on a university campus.
- +Is there a dress code?
Your child will be outside for a portion of the day, so make sure they are outfitted appropriately for weather and play. Open-toed shoes and clothing with inappropriate imagery or messaging are discouraged, otherwise, comfort is key!
- +What is the earliest time a child can be dropped off and latest they can be picked up?
A full day at an Empow Camp runs from 9am-4pm. Free early drop-off starts at 8:30am. “Extended day” time is available from 4-5:00pm for just $35 per day. You may select this option during registration.
- +What if my child finishes all of the projects?
Empow has more project ideas and hybrid-learning activities than anyone could tackle in a single summer. Even if they attend multiple sessions, campers will not come close to running out of technologies to explore and projects to master.
- +My child doesn't know anything about the camp topic. Will that be a problem?
Our camps list whether or not prerequisites or previous experience is required. Most programs assume zero experience and still are able to provide more than enough depth to challenge those with prior knowledge.
- +Do campers build their own robots or share?
Teamwork is key at Empow’s robotics camps! We support building robots in pairs or small groups, as we’ve found that teamwork actually aids in the building and programming of robots. Campers will collaborate using robot kits, with each member of the team assuming different roles in developing their robots.
- +Do campers bring home their projects?
Each camper has an account on our own cloud-based learning platform, TalentBox, for one full year after camp ends. There they can access and download all of the materials they’ve created over the summer. As part of the camp fees, we also provide each camper with a year of free use of the software application they used the most during their session.
- +My 8-year old is a computer expert. Why can’t they take the advanced camps?
While there’s no doubt that young kids are absorbing tech concepts earlier and at a faster rate than ever before, our experience has found that campers perform better with children in their own grade-peer group. Keep in mind that learning is greatly individualized, so your child can move onto more sophisticated facets of the curriculum while still being with their friends.
- +Can my child switch projects/subject tracks after camp begins if they aren’t connecting to it?
Of course! Many of our camps—particularly those labeled as Explorations and our Girls Stem Camps—are designed to foster study across a range of technologies and interests so change and choice is built in. If your child would like to switch to another program, we are more than happy to make a switch as long as the other program is age appropriate and has room available. Not all of our camps are priced the same so some fees may apply.
- +My child has special needs. Would they be able to attend camp?
Special is always welcome at Empow. If your child has an aid in school, they are required to bring the aid to our programs. We request that you bring your child’s special needs to our attention so we can best prepare. You will find appropriate forms among those you fill out during the registration process. Feel free to contact our office or Camp Program Director prior to the start of camp for any other concerns.
- +When do the campers get breaks?
Breaks are a necessity, even when you’re doing something you love! We have three breaks built into our daily camp schedule for two snack times, lunch and organized outdoor fun.