Click below to find answers to frequently asked questions about Thinkery Camps.

Daily Operations

What kinds of activities will my camper engage in?

Our camps offer hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, art and math as a platform for innovation. Each weeklong camp provides a variety of fun mental and physical challenges that activate campers’ creativity. Each day, campers will engage in activities in the following focus areas:

Explore: Experience the amazing and intriguing scientific principles at work in the world around us. Immerse yourself in STEAM learning through interactive projects in which we discover answers by doing.

Design: Engage in our design process as we plan, create, test and improve our inventions. We celebrate fantastic failures and emphasize persistence, goal-setting and out-of-the-box innovation.

Move: Activate your body along with your mind through movement! Work as a team and problem solve through silly and engaging kinesthetic group games.

Connect: Be inspired and learn alongside local innovators. Full day onsite campers will connect with Austin thinkers and makers through field trips and guest speakers.

What does a typical day at a Thinkery onsite camp look like?

Each day, Thinkery campers engage in activities that encourage design, exploration, collaboration and movement. Activities are focused on the theme of the week.

Typical schedule for 1st–2nd and 3rd–5th grade STEAM camp:
8–9 am Optional Extended Care
8:50–9 am Campers greeted by staff and checked in
9–9:15 am Camp day begins—opening circle and theme discussion
9:15–10 am Camper’s museum—campers explore Thinkery exhibits before museum opens to the General Public
10 am Morning snack
10:30–
11:30 am
Design challenge—hands-on activity where campers are challenged to engage in the engineering design process
11:45 am–12:30 pm Exploratory activity—hands-on activity that explores a new concept or principle
12:30–1:30 pm Lunch, outdoor play and group activities (books, games or exhibit exploration)
1:30–2 pm Movement activity—campers work together as they learn through moving their bodies
2–2:30 pm Choice play—Less structured time to choose self-directed engineering, team building or exhibit activities
2:30 pm  Afternoon snack
2:45–3:45 pm Group design time/guest presenter/big group design/camp presentations*
3:45 pm   Closing circle and journal time
4 pm Camp ends—caregiver pick up
4–5:30 pm Optional Extended Care

*Outlined above is a typical day that does not include a field trip. Field trips are typically one hour long with 15–30 min. travel to and from Thinkery. Field trips will most often occur on Tuesday or Thursday, leaving either at 9:30 am or 12:30 pm. On days we do not have a field trip, we typically have a guest presenter, demonstration, group game or group build.

Typical schedule for Pre-K–K STEAM camps:
8–9 am Optional Extended Care
8:50–9 am Campers greeted by staff and checked in
9–9:30 am Camp day begins—opening ceremony and team circle with storybook/topic introduction
9:30–10 am Camper’s museum—campers explore Thinkery exhibits before museum opens
10:15 am Morning snack and story time
10:30–
11:30 am
Explore Kinder stations—campers rotate through four hands-on activity stations
11:30 am–noon Self-guided play in museum or at the park
Noon–
12:30 pm
Movement activity—campers work together as they learn through moving their bodies
12:30–1 pm Lunch—optional Pre-K–K part-day program ends—parents pick up part-day campers
1 pm Mid-day circle time with story book and review
1–1:30 pm Rest and choice time—the last five minutes includes group yoga to reset campers for the rest of the day.
1:30–2 pm Design challenge—hands-on activity where campers engage in the engineering design process
2:15–2:45 pm Exhibit exploration—time for campers to explore a Thinkery exhibit
2:45 pm Afternoon snack and story time
3–3:30 pm Big group activity—campers enjoy a demonstration, nature walk or special activity
3:30–4 pm Closing circle time with story, journal debrief and joyful play
4 pm Camp ends—caregiver pick up
4–5:30 pm Optional Extended Care
What does a typical day at a Programming and Robotics camp look like?

Typical schedule for full-day camp at National Instruments or Magellan:

8:50–9 am Campers greeted by Thinkery staff and checked in
9–9:30 am Camp day begins–opening ceremony and team circle with topic discussion
9:30–
10:30 am 
Exploratory activity—hands-on activity that explores a new concept or principle
10:30 am Morning snack
10:45–
11:30 am
Group design time/guest presenter/big group design/camp presentations*
11:30 am–noon Choice play—Less structured time to choose self-directed engineering, team building or exhibit activities
Noon –
12:30 pm
Movement activity—campers work together as they learn through moving their bodies
12:30 –
1 pm
Lunch, outdoor play and group activities (books, games or activity exploration)
1:15–
2:30 pm
Programming or technology exploratory challenge
2:30 pm Afternoon snack
2:45–
3:30 pm
Continue work on programming or technology culminating project
3:30–
3:45 pm
Closing circle and journal time
4 pm Camp ends–caregiver pick up

*Outlined above is a typical day that does not include a field trip. Field trips are typically 1 hour long with 15-30 min travel to and from the camp site. Field trips will most often occur on Tuesday, leaving either at 9:30 am or 12:30 m. On days we do not have a field trip, we typically have a guest presenter, demonstration, group game or build.

What is a “no waste” snack?

The request to pack “no waste” snacks is a suggestion to consider the environment when packing lunch and snacks. We will not be policing the use of disposable bags or containers, so please do whatever works best for your family. Need a suggestion? Pack crackers or fruit in a reusable container instead of a plastic bag!

Safety

How will my child be supervised?

Pre-K–K camp:

  • We maintain a 1 to 6 staff to camper ratio.
  • Each camp group is assigned one lead educator, two assistant educators, and trained volunteers.
  • Campers will be escorted, as a group, to and from the bathroom by a Thinkery staff member.

Full-day camp:

  • We maintain a 1 to 8 staff to camper ratio.
  • Each camp group is assigned one lead educator, three assistant educators and trained volunteers

How does Thinkery maintain safety during free play in the museum?

Our youngest campers, Pre-K–K, are always limited to one exhibit space at a time during free play in Thinkery. Also, these campers always wear bright vests while free play is taking place so they are highly visible to Thinkery Camp staff. Our staff will maintain a 1 to 6 staff ratio while enjoying Thinkery exhibits. Additionally, Pre-K–K campers enjoy a portion of free play before Thinkery is open to the general public every day.

Free play in Thinkery for our more independent 1st–5th graders is always limited to one exhibit space at a time. Staff maintain a 1:8 ratio during exhibit exploration to ensure campers are enjoying both a safe and enriching time while in the exhibits. Our 1st–5th grade campers will also enjoy time in the museum before it is open to the general public.

Who is the staff that my child will interact with?

The staff members in each camp room are excited, caring and creative people. They have a passion and joy for sharing the innovation process with your camper.

Our staff goes through a rigorous four-stage interview process that includes: Application, group and one-on-one interviews, reference check and a national background check. Those that meet our standards and maintain Thinkery values are invited to join the Thinkery team. Once hired, every Thinkery Camp staff member receives three full days of training on Thinkery’s learning philosophy and care giving standards, including state recognized abuse prevention and CPR courses. After training, staff are mentored with ongoing supervision and feedback provided by the Camp Management Team. We are very proud of our dedicated and accomplished Thinkery Camp staff.

My Camper

How do you handle the grade distinction in the summer?

The grades posted for each camp indicate the grade level your child will enter in the 2018–19 school year. This includes both spring break and summer camps.

Is there a minimum age for Thinkery Camps?

Yes, campers must be four years old by the month before their camp begins to participate in our camp program. If your child does not meet this requirement, consider our Early Learners programs. This age restriction is in place to ensure the success of each individual camper. 

Do Thinkery Camps serve children with special needs?

Although Thinkery Camps are not specifically designed to accommodate children with special needs, we make every reasonable effort to serve campers who require special attention or consideration. If you are interested in enrolling a child with special needs, please contact the Camp Manager (contact information below) to set up a meeting to evaluate our program’s suitability for your child. We also welcome camper aides, but require all aides who attend camp to complete a background check before camp begins.

If your child has a special need or a life-threatening allergy, please contact the Camp Management Team to discuss their needs before the camper’s first day. We want to prepare Thinkery Camp staff and educators in advance so that we can make your child’s camp experience as safe as possible.

Contact information: Amy Wiggin, Camp Manager: awiggin@thinkeryaustin.org or 512-469-6223.

Registration

What is your cancellation policy?

Refunds cannot be made 14 or fewer business days before the start of the camp. A non-refundable fee of $35 is included in the price of your camp tuition. Cancellations made 15 or more business days before the start of camp will receive a full refund minus the $35 processing fee.

In the event that minimum enrollments are not met, we reserve the right to cancel or reschedule camps. If this occurs, your entire tuition will be refunded.

What is included in the price of my child’s Thinkery Camp?

Your camp registration includes five days of Thinkery Camp fun and learning, including hands-on activities, guest speakers and field trips for full-day campers. Your registration also includes one Thinkery Camp t-shirt. Extended care can be purchased for an additional fee. 

Can I transfer my Thinkery Camp session to a different week, location or camper?

We cannot accommodate direct transfers to a new camp session. If you need to change the week of your Thinkery Camp, our cancellation policy will apply. If you are interested in booking additional camp weeks, please call (512) 469-6201 or register online!  The camp you sign up for is uniquely yours. Sessions are not transferable to other campers.

What happens if the Thinkery Camp I want is full?

You may purchase a Thinkery Camp online at the time most convenient for you. When a spot becomes available in a camp, the website is immediately updated. For this reason, we do not maintain a wait list.

Can my camper be placed in the same group as a friend?

Camp is all about exploring with friends, new and old. We often hold the same Thinkery Camp in two camp rooms during the summer. If you would like to be placed in the same room as a fellow camper, add their name in the ‘additional info’ section when you sign up for your camp or feel free to call (512) 469-6201—we’ll make a note in your reservation.

What is Extended Care?

Thinkery Extended Care allows you to drop off your child as early as 8 am (one hour before camp begins) and pick them up by 5:30 pm (90 minutes after camp ends).

Extended Care includes creative and fun activities led and supervised by Thinkery staff. Campers are invited to follow their interests and choose activities they would like to explore each day. Each week, Extended Care will look slightly different and be driven by the interests of the campers.

A late fee of $1 per minute will be charged per family for children not picked up on time starting at 5:30 p.m.  for Thinkery hosted Extended Care.

Thinkery Extended Care is available at four of our five camp locations – Thinkery, The Magellan International School, International School of Texas and Emergent Academy. Extended Care is not available for camps hosted at National Instruments.

How do I sign up for Extended Care?

You can purchase Extended Care for the Thinkery location when you register for camp. If you’ve already registered for camp, you may purchase Extended Care by calling Thinkery Reservations at (512) 469-6201.

Extended Care is not available for camps hosted at National Instruments.

Field Trips

Will my child experience a field trip while attending Thinkery Camp?

All Pre-K–5th grade camps hosted at our partner locations—not at Thinkery (the Meredith Learning Lab) in Mueller—will have one field trip to Thinkery during their camp week!

Additionally, every 1st–2nd or 3rd–5th grade STEAM themed camp at any site will enjoy a field trip to see STEAM in action at an Austin-area location. More information about field trips will be available the first day of camp!

Does my camp include a field trip to Thinkery for Pre-K–K, 1st–2nd or 3rd–5th?

Theme Hosted @ Thinkery Hosted @ Partner Site
Think Austin    ✓
Once Upon a Design    ✓
Up, Up and Away    ✓
Engineering with Sound    ✓
Robot Secret Agent    ✓
RoboCircus    ✓
Medieval Minecraft    ✓

Does my camp include a STEAM field trip to a location in Austin for 1st–2nd or 3rd–5th?

Theme Hosted @ Thinkery Hosted @ Partner Site
Think Austin  ✓  ✓
Once Upon a Design  ✓  ✓
Up, Up and Away  ✓  ✓
Engineering with Sound  ✓  ✓
Robot Secret Agent    
RoboCircus    
Medieval Minecraft    

Explain how Thinkery field trips works?

One day during the camp week, our 1st–5th grade campers in non-programming camps will attend and experience hour-long field trips to see (first-hand!) where local STEAM innovators are creating and making in our city. On your first day of camp, caregivers will receive a printed and digital parent letter that includes the location and address of your camper’s field trips.

Thinkery campers travel using Star Shuttle. These buses are equipped with air conditioning, seat belts and certified drivers. They are also equipped with four-point harnesses for our Pre-K–K campers. The drivers are required to obey all safety laws.

All campers (Pre-K–5th grade) hosted at our partner locations will also enjoy one field trip to Thinkery, to explore our exhibits and continue their week of fun and learning!

Please reach out to Amy Wiggin, Camp Manager, at awiggin@thinkeryaustin.org if you are seeking more information about your camper’s field trip.

Financial Assistance

Do you offer financial assistance? How do I apply?

We have received an overwhelming response to our scholarship program. All new applicants will be placed on a waitlist and notified if a spot becomes available.

Every year, we offer discounted camps through our scholarship program. If you are interested in applying to the scholarship program, please read the application process on our Registration and Pricing page, or in our Thinkery Camp 2018 Scholarship Application PDF (Spanish version also available). Please note, these scholarships operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

What do I need to submit to be applicable for a scholarship?

Each interested applicant must submit a completed application, including one form of proof of eligibility.

When is the deadline for scholarship applications?

Applications must be received by April 30, 2018 for all Thinkery summer camps. Scholarship applicants will be notified on May 1, 2018.

How can I donate to your scholarship program?

If you are interested in helping make Thinkery Camp a possibility for all, you may donate toward our camp scholarship funds by visiting our Donate Now page and selecting “Educational Program Scholarships” as the designation. One hundred percent of your donation will go toward tuition for campers who demonstrate financial need. Thank you for helping us realize the reality of camp for all!

Other Considerations

What is your tax ID number?

74-228-8789

What options are there for my teenager at Thinkery Camps?

Our Counselors-in-Training (CITs) program includes a one-week training and the opportunity to sign up to take a leadership role in one or multiple camp sessions through out the summer. CITs work closely with staff mentors to lead fun STEAM-based activities, set individual goals, develop new skills and gain valuable work experience.

I still have questions. What next?

Not a problem, we’re here to help! Email us at reservations@thinkeryaustin.org or call us at 512-469-6201. Your calls and questions are very important to us, and we will respond to all requests within one business day.