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Frequently Asked Questions about STARS


When is the 2024 STARS Summer Camp?

STARS will take place Sunday, June 16 through Thursday, June 20.

How does the application process work?

The STARS Summer Camp lottery application will open for submissions on January 8, 2024 and closes on January 26, 2024. Please note, there is no preference given for early submissions, but the applications do need to be completed by the close date. Submit a separate application for each child interested in attending.

Our staff will review the information submitted in the application and follow up with any questions. Families will be contacted by February 1, 2024 to confirm that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria and thus will be moved to the lottery. Notifications for placements in the program or waitlist will be sent in the following weeks. For full details regarding the application process, please see the Admissions page.

Who is eligible to apply?

STARS participants must be:

Is there a waitlist available?

In the event that your student is not selected in the lottery, they will be placed on a waitlist. If a space becomes available, we will contact the next person on the waitlist immediately.

How can siblings apply for STARS?

If you have multiple children applying for STARS, please keep in mind separate application forms must be submitted individually for each child. Siblings are entered in the lottery as individuals.

Will there be a day-camper option for non-residential students?

We can only accommodate students for the residential option, as we are not in a position to have students attend during the day and then leave for the evenings to stay off campus. We understand not all students will be ready for a five-day residential program, and we hope to accommodate these students in later years when they are ready to attend a residential summer experience.

Should my child apply if they have a medical condition requiring specific care? What about mental health? 

If your child has a medical or mental health concern, please contact us before applying to discuss program eligibility and specific support we may be able to offer. We want to be as prepared as possible to welcome students and make their stay with us safe, comfortable and of course, fun! We find that the more honest and detailed you can be with our staff ahead of time, the better the student’s time at camp will be. We want to work with you to the best of our ability to ensure your child is set up for success and appropriate support while in our care. 

Costs and Financial Assistance

What does it cost to attend Davidson Summer STARS?

Tuition and fees cover a registration deposit, room & board (including linens), program materials and all planned activities. Transportation to and from the program is not covered. 

What is your refund policy?

For full details on refund policies, please visit the Tuition and Fees page.

What if my participant needs to cancel due to extenuating circumstances?

We understand that participants may not be able to attend due to unanticipated hardships. A partial refund may be awarded after the final fee deadline to families who cannot attend STARS due to extenuating circumstances. These include:

  • Severe unexpected medical condition
  • Death in the immediate/nuclear family
  • Severe unexpected financial hardship

The decision to grant a partial refund is under the discretion of the Davidson Institute and any refunds will be less than any expenses already incurred in the registration and preparation process. A refund request may be asked for in writing along with any supporting documentation, if needed.

Is financial assistance available for those who demonstrate need?

The Davidson Institute provides financial assistance (FA) to families who demonstrate financial need for STARS. FA may be available to help defer a portion of program fees and/or transportation expenses. Please keep in mind that the Davidson Institute has seen an increase in the number of families applying and qualifying for FA; therefore, we must prioritize the distribution of funds we have available to assist families. FA awards never cover 100% of any expense. See additional details on Tuition and Fees page.

Student Life

Where will the academic sessions take place?

Sessions will take place on the University of Nevada, Reno campus either in the Davidson Academy building or a nearby campus building, which are usually in close-proximity to the program's on-campus housing accommodations.

Will participants receive grades or progress reports for the academic sessions?

No. The academic sessions serve as a chance for students to explore new subjects and allow intellectual engagement with like-minded peers while at STARS. No assessments or grading is done.

Where will the participants reside?

Each student will be paired with one or two roommates of the same gender identification and housed in a residential dormitory on the campus of University of Nevada, Reno. A small group of students will be paired with one Program Assistant to create a close-knit community and provide 24-hour supervision.

Are special dietary meals provided?

Yes! The university dining facility is experienced at accommodating special dietary needs. We work closely with the university dining staff to create a food allergy action plan to determine what accommodations can be made for specific student needs.

Each year, children who have food allergies or special diets successfully attend STARS; however, we cannot guarantee an allergy-free environment given that the program takes place in many shared spaces and in an uncontrolled environment. We welcome you to contact us to discuss specific concerns and determine if STARS is a good fit based on the participant's level of comfort and needs.

What kind of activities will take place?

Academic field trips around the University of Nevada, Reno campus vary each year and may include visits to the seismology lab, mineral museum, Planetarium, and the anatomy lab. Social activities will include arts and crafts, game night, movie night, and more!

When will I find out who my roommate is? Can I make a roommate request?

Students will learn who their roommate is on arrival day. They will have the chance to fill out a dorm life survey before the program to help our team match students most appropriately. There is also a roommate request form to complete should students have a specific person they'd like to room with. We will do our best to accommodate roommate requests, but cannot guarantee placement.


Will family members be able to visit campers during the program?

STARS is intended to offer campers a short-term residential summer experience. Each participant is a vital part of an academic learning team and social community. As such, visits from family can increase homesickness and significantly reduce the quality of the experience for all participants. We understand not all families may be ready for a sleep-away experience, and thus we encourage those families to hold off on applying until they are prepared to be away from one another for the duration of the program.

How can I help prepare my Young Scholar for a residential program?

  • Practice sleeping away from home
  • Review the STARS website and/or Handbook together as a family, so your child knows what to anticipate.
  • Discuss homesickness with your child letting them know it is normal. Talk through strategies that help relieve homesick feelings, such as:
    • Writing letters or taking pictures to be shared when they are back home
    • Talking to a friend or staff member
  • Remember to stay positive! The more encouraging you can be with your child before camp, the more ready they will be.
  • Many parents have highly recommended the book Homesick and Happy by Michael Thompson, PhD.
  • Other great tips for preparing can be found on the American Camp Association website:

What is your policy on electronic devices?

In recent years, the widespread use of electronic devices and other technology has raised important safety and confidentiality issues. Since the functions provided by electronic devices, specifically cell phones, are not relevant to the program, Davidson Summer STARS is an electronic device free program. Participants may not have or use cell phones, smart phones, air tags, or other devices capable of voice and/or text communication during the program. The only exception to this policy is a camera and/or music playing device without voice, text or internet capabilities.

If a participant must bring such a device in order to communicate with his or her parent(s) during travel to and from the program, the device will be turned off upon arrival and stored in a secure area only accessible by program staff. Parents will be provided contact information to connect with program staff should an emergency arise in which staff will facilitate communication between parents and participants.

Is participation in STARS tax-deductible?

No, the Davidson Institute is not an eligible educational institution by IRS definition and cannot issue a 1098-T. However, keep in mind that the Davidson Institute cannot and does not issue tax advice; please contact your tax advisor for further consultation.