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We understand that families’ summer schedules can be quite hectic, so each live session is recorded for campers to rewatch or access later. There are also daily times when the instructor or our TAs are available to answer questions and offer feedback. For the one-week sessions, each day’s challenge will build on what was done the day before, so it will be difficult if a camper were to fall more than a day behind. The four-week sessions will not meet every day, and much of the work is done off-line, so a camper could more easily catch up if there were a schedule conflict during the camp.
Assuming that a camper is registered in time to receive the camp packet, the camper will receive a camp t-shirt and camp string bag with some materials inside. To keep everyone’s costs as low as possible we will send two types of “stuff,” items that are difficult to find at home or a local store and items usually purchased in bulk that we can easily divide. In addition, each camp module will have a “shopping list” for a suggested online vendor. If you have some of the items, you won’t need to purchase them. If you want to purchase them elsewhere, go ahead! The list is meant to simplify things for families. By not shipping the “shopping list” items ourselves, we hope many of you save quite a bit of money, as we would have to raise our prices to cover the items and increased shipping costs.
Yes, if an adult registers multiple children at a one time there is a $10/camper discount after the first camper. All campers’ t-shirts, camp bags and camp materials will be shipped together if possible. There may be more than one shipment if the registrations span multiple weeks.

Application

No, we have campers from across the United States and from overseas.
First, parents must apply, preferably online, and pay the appropriate deposit, $100.00 for early registrants, but higher as we near the start of camp. A link to the appropriate form is located on each camp session’s description page. Applying online automatically signs you up for a payment plan for the fee balance. Follow instructions on the form for payment information and completion of online application forms. After your initial registration and deposit, you will receive electronic application forms via email from an online system called CampDocs to complete the remainder of your camper's application. Please note that most of our communication is through email, so be sure to use an email address you check often.
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Location

Most camp sessions take place on Northern Illinois University’s main campus in DeKalb, IL, 65 miles west of Chicago and 45 miles southeast of Rockford. NIU is a comprehensive educational institution that has a regional and national reputation for the quality of its students, faculty, staff, facilities and research activities. NIU's 514-acre main campus in DeKalb is located one mile north of the East-West Tollway (Interstate 88) near the junction of state highways 38 and 23. One week of middle school sessions takes place at NIU's Lorado Taft Field Campus on the banks of the Rock River in Oregon, IL and the e-Sports session takes place in the NIU Naperville Esports Lounge in Naperville, IL. You will receive specific drop-off and pick-up locations in your welcome letter two weeks prior to camp.

Camp Info

Please refer to the behavior contract. Please, note that NIU is not responsible for any lost or stolen personal items.
Campers should bring casual clothes and a raincoat or poncho. Long pants and sunscreen are required for all camps, as are comfortable, sturdy walking shoes with closed toes. We also recommend campers bring a sweater or light jacket for evenings and air-conditioned rooms. Additionally, campers should bring towels, all personal hygiene necessities, their own personal pillow and bed linens or a sleeping bag. They might also want to bring extra money for snacks, souvenirs, etc. Campers attending sessions located at Lorado Taft must also bring bug-repellent. Please refer to the parent information email for other necessary items.
You can find Day Camps in the Programs menu on the home page. All residential camps require campers to stay overnight. Only under extraordinary circumstances would commuting campers be considered.
Most camp sessions are limited to 20 or fewer campers. Some weeks there are several sessions running at one time, with a possibility of 100 campers total those weeks. The exception to this are the Early Middle School Camps. The limit for these two camps is 40 campers. Design challenges, activities and laboratory investigations are done in small groups of 2 to 5 participants. The adult-camper ratio is approximately 1 to 10.
  • NIU DeKalb Camps

    Campers reside and dine in renovated residence halls on NIU's campus in DeKalb, Illinois. The residence halls used are air conditioned. Two campers share a room; campers may request a specific roommate on their application forms. Linens and pillows are not provided. Camp counselors live in the residence hall rooms adjacent to the campers to provide adult supervision.

  • NIU Lorado Taft Camps

    Lorado Taft Outdoor Education Center is a 141-acre campus near Oregon, IL. Middle school campers reside in bunkhouses and dine family-style in the conference center dining hall. Camp counselors live in rooms adjacent to the campers to provide adult supervision. We will spend Friday on the NIU DeKalb campus, finalizing presentations and presenting work to parents.

Counselors include graduate students, undergraduate students and teachers. Each person working in our camps is required to have an extensive background check and receives appropriate training. Instructors are NIU faculty, alumni, grad students and advanced undergraduate students.

Activities

In the evenings, campers will participate in a variety of STEAM-themed recreational activities including a movie night, stargazing, and making liquid Nitrogen ice cream. Campers will also have at least an hour of free time every night that they may use to relax and call home.

7:30 a.m. - Breakfast

8:15 a.m. - Two morning sessions with a short break between

Noon - Lunch

1:30 p.m. – Two afternoon sessions with a short break between

5:00 p.m. - Dinner

6:30 p.m. - Special evening activity

9:00 p.m. - Campers return to residence halls

9:30 p.m. – Quiet time

10:00 p.m. - Lights out

Presentations are for residential camps only. At 2 p.m. on Friday during the week of camp, campers make short, group presentations on what they have done/learned during the week. Campers are excited to share this with family members, so please try to make it to the presentation if possible. All campers spend Friday on the NIU main campus in DeKalb, even if they began the week at Lorado Taft in Oregon, IL. Each family will receive information on their camper’s presentation at check-in Sunday and in the parent letter sent out before camp.
NIU DeKalb Camps
  • Parents and campers should look for a STEM Outreach banner in the residence hall lobby to find the check-in table for our camp. There may be a few other camps checking in at the same time. Campers will sign in and will receive their nametag and room key at this time. Parents of campers with medication or any health or learning concerns should speak with the designated camp director at this time.
  • Parents are welcome to accompany campers to their room to help them settle in. Once campers check in, they are not to leave the assigned area without speaking to camp administration. We ask that parents leave before orientation.
NIU Lorado Taft Camps
  • Parents and campers should follow the directions to the Lorado Taft Outdoor Education site within Lowden State Park, Oregon, IL. Campers will sign in and will receive their nametag and room key at this time. Parents of campers with medication or any health or learning concerns should speak with the designated camp director at this time.
  • Parents are welcome to accompany campers to their bunkhouse to help them settle in. Once campers check in, they are not to leave the assigned area without speaking to camp administration. We ask that parents leave before orientation.
  • There are several casual dining opportunities in Oregon and Byron for families after dropping off their children.

Financial

Many local organizations offer financial support for campers. Check with your local service groups, booster clubs, and your school guidance counselor.
Yes, though the funding available for scholarships varies from year to year. Scholarships will be awarded to campers of any ethnicity or gender based on need and demonstrated interest in STEM. Due to limited funding, the application is not being posted on this site, but needs to be requested by email from stemcamps@niu.edu. Scholarship applications are available starting each January. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Those awarded scholarships are expected to pay the balance owed for the camp. All scholarships are awarded in the form of discounted registration fees. We award scholarships in two amounts, $350.00 and $600.00, for residential camps and one amount, $175.00, for day camps, based on need and availability of funds. No scholarships are 100% as we believe campers who have found a way to help cover even a small portion of their camp fee are better able to appreciate the gift of the scholarship. Some schools and community organizations can help with that. A non-refundable $10.00 application fee is required to apply for the scholarship. This is used to hold a place in the desired camp as we review the applications. Our scholarship funding is limited, so we may not be able to award all who request help. The $10 application fee is applied to the camp fee if a child or teen participates in camp, whether or not they receive a scholarship.
To reserve the camper's spot in the camp, you need to provide a deposit. If you are applying more than 60 days prior to camp, you will be charged a $100.00 deposit at that time and then will be charged two additional times: at 60 days prior to camp, you will be charged 50% of the camp fee minus the $100.00 deposit and at 30 days prior to camp, you will be charged the remainder of the fee. If you apply within 60 days of camp, you will be charged 50% of the camp fee at the time and the remainder at 30 days prior to camp. If you apply within 30 days of camp, you will be charged the full amount at registration. Please take this payment plan into consideration when providing us with a card number as all charges will be made to the same account.
We keep the fees as low as possible for all campers, so discounts are minimal. The deepest discount is for early applicants and that discount is carried forward a few additional weeks for families with multiple campers and NIU employee families.
Yes, the camp fees cover food, lodging, instruction, and all camp materials. However, campers may want to bring snacks and money for souvenirs during the week.

Insurance

For most campers, the answer is NO. These options are most valuable for our international campers or for out of state campers who are flying in. If you have health insurance in the United States, you are most likely covered. Please double check your coverage if you use an HMO and we are outside your usual coverage area. Travel insurance does not make sense for anyone driving to camp. Each family needs to evaluate their own situation.
In addition to the standard Cancellation Refund Policy stated on our web site, we are offering cancellation insurance this year. Your $25.00 fee covers camp fees for cancellation in the following circumstances:
  • Full refund of camp fees (minus the insurance fee) if we are notified of the cancellation by email prior to 6 p.m. on check in day. No explanation required.
  • Prorated refund of camp fee if camper needs to leave camp early due to an unforeseen circumstance. This applies for a sick camper or documented family emergency, not for a preplanned early departure.

Health & Food

For most illnesses, the camper will be isolated from the other campers with a counselor to watch over them while you are notified to come pick them up. We can arrange, with your permission, to bring a camper to an immediate care center if needed, a useful option for campers from a greater distance.
Please alert us to any food allergies and/or dietary restrictions on the health form. Your child will be choosing food cafeteria style in the residence hall. A variety of prepared items is available each day, with options for students with dietary restrictions clearly labelled. The only items that are not labeled are commercial foods, such as the cereal dispensers, for example. For those items, students will be expected know what brands are safe for them or not. The dining staff has been trained in preparing gluten free meals, but we must be notified in advance if this is required. If we provide snacks for special events, we will be sure to accommodate any allergies. Note that Lorado Taft is a nut-free campus.
Lorado Taft campers will be provided a Sunday evening meal. DeKalb campus campers will not be served an evening meal on Sunday.

International Campers

NIU STEAM has provided a separate camp, also known as a contract camp, for campers from Asia in the past and can do so in the future, but arrangements for this type of camp need to be made at least 10 months in advance of the proposed camp start date.
NIU can arrange accommodations for chaperones on the DeKalb campus (dorm or hotel) or at Lorado Taft Field Campus (guest room in or near the bunkhouse). The group is required to provide a copy of a home-country background check for all chaperones who accompany a group. Chaperones are not housed on the same floor as the campers if housed in a dorm and may be in a different building, depending on space. The fee is the same as a camper fee unless the Holmes Student Center Hotel is chosen, which would incur a higher fee.
For each camper, we must have the following prior to the start of camp, preferably two weeks prior to camp:
  • A photocopy of the camper(s) passport (and visa if applicable).
  • Proof of traveler’s health insurance (available through Camp Docs after registering).
  • Power-of-attorney stating that the chaperone is responsible for the camper and can make emergency medical decisions if we cannot reach the parents in a timely manner.
Please contact us about any international campers. If you wish to bring a group of campers it is especially important to contact us. We limit the number of international campers per session to provide the best learning experience for both the international campers and our domestic campers. You will be asked to register your campers online once we have approved your group. There is a small discount for multiple campers.
The fee for international campers is slightly higher than other campers’ fees because we have more expenses when accommodating international campers. There is more paper work and more staff time involved before arrival, and we also provide bedding and towels for international campers which we do not for our domestic campers.
While most of our international campers come as part of an organized group, we welcome individual international campers with a good grasp of English for verbal communication.

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