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National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) - Our Honest Review

If you are in high school and passionate about STEM, then you should be evaluating ‘leadership in STEM’ programs like the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp).  Programs like these may not only enrich your academic profile but also equip you with essential skills that are highly valued in college admissions and future job markets. Engaging in these programs demonstrates your commitment to learning and personal growth, setting you apart from your peers.

In this blog, we cover all there is to know about NYSCamp, its structure, prestige, and overall costs, along with its pros and cons!

What is NYSCamp?

NYSCamp, hosted by the National Youth Science Academy, is a 3-week residential science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) program for some of the nation’s (and the world’s) best and brightest high schoolers. Established in 1963 by the National Youth Science Academy and held in the scenic Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, it aims to provide a rich learning experience with skill development far beyond classroom training. You will have the opportunity to interact with some of the world’s most noted professionals, engage in hands-on activities, and even indulge in outdoor activities and personal development, offering a well-rounded experience.

The National Youth Science Academy is a non-profit corporation that aims “to inspire lifelong engagement and ethical leadership in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and related professions”. It does this through STEM-focused programs for students from all across the country, and the NYSCamp is its flagship program.

Who is eligible for NYSCamp?

To be eligible to be nominated for NYSCamp, you must:

  • Be graduating from high school between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2025.

  • Have documented demonstrable excellence in STEAM subjects.

  • Be recognized for skills and achievements outside of STEAM and academia.

  • Have a strong interest in pursuing a STEAM-related career.

  • Be fully committed to the program's duration.

  • Complete COVID-19 vaccination.

How does the application process work? 

Note that the application for NYSCamp differs in the sense that you are not applying to the program directly, rather you must be nominated by the state you reside in. Florida, Georgia, and Massachusetts select delegates through their state science fairs, while those from the remaining 47 states must fill out the application, providing the following information:

  • A letter of application. This must provide details on why you want to attend NYSCamp, what qualifies you to represent your state, how the camp can benefit you, and your thoughts on the social impacts of science.

  • A copy of your most recent high school transcript.

  • Your most recent resume. This must include your work and volunteer experience, positions of leadership, awards, honors, and extracurricular activities.

  • The name and email address of your recommender. Note that this person will have to provide a letter of recommendation once they receive the email.

  • You will also need to separately provide your current cumulative high school GPA and the STEAM, Honors and AP classes you are enrolled in.

For details, you should contact your State Selection Coordinator.

International applicants can apply for NYSCamp if they are from one of the following nations: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago. While many of the overall application requirements are the same, the few specific requirements are:

  • You must be 16, 17 or 18 years of age on July 1, 2024.

  • You must be eligible for a J-1 Visa to enter the United States. Don’t apply for it though, as after selection the US State Department will assist with this.

  • You must have demonstrable proficiency in English.

The application deadline for the 2024 NYSCamp is February 29, 2024.

How much does NYSCamp cost?

The best part of NYSCamp is that there is no fee of any kind for any applicant, whether national or international! The camp is a fully funded, all-inclusive opportunity.

How is NYSCamp structured?

NYSCamp 2024 will be held from June 29 to July 20, 2024

An average day at the camp involves plenty of physical activities in the great outdoors mixed with eight hours of lectures, seminars, or directed work.

You can expect to be attending lectures and workshops by STEAM experts, and when we say experts we mean it: Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist), Neil Armstrong (astronaut), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo! CEO), Julie Robinson (Chief Scientist, NASA) and more such alumni have presented at NYSCamp! You’ll also be doing some hands-on projects yourself and will be involved in some research opportunities. There are of course plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, as well as artistic and creative sessions.

Is NYSCamp prestigious?

NYSCamp is without a doubt one of the most prestigious STEM programs in the country. For one, it is highly selective, admitting only 100 delegates from 50 states plus international delegates. If you are selected, you are effectively a representative of your state or your country.

Secondly, the program provides a platform to interact with and learn from some of its stellar alumni, like mathematician and Nobel laureate John Nash, or Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project and director of the NIH. Lastly, NYSCamp is designed as a holistic learning experience, mixing dense lectures from industry experts with practical directed studies, and rounding it all off with an outdoor adventure program and an arts program.

The success of this methodology is clearly reflected in the numbers: more than 50% of NYSCamp alumni receive a doctorate, more than 85% are working in a STEM field, and more than 99% receive at least a bachelor’s degree.

Pros and Cons of attending NYSCamp


  1. You will receive comprehensive STEAM education: From core skill building through lectures, to practical experience through directed learning, you’ll be experiencing it all. The learning from NYSCamp goes beyond anything your high school or even many other programs can provide you.

  2. You will have opportunities for personal growth and skill development: NYSCamp allows participants to pitch their own seminars to be included as part of the schedule. This, combined with the plethora of team building activities available, means that you will have a lot of opportunities to improve yourself beyond just the technical education on offer.

  3. You will get to network with professionals and peers: NYSCamp invites up and coming STEM professionals to lecture and present, along with its own alumni. Given the rather small batch size and the isolated environment, you will be able to network and form strong bonds with not just the faculty but also with your peers.

  4. It is an all-inclusive program with no additional costs: If you get in, then all costs are covered. A three-week residential program from leading experts and faculty, and you will not have to pay a dime!


  1. The selection process is highly competitive: Out of thousands of applicants, only 118 are finally selected, making it extremely challenging to secure a nomination. You’ll have to put your best foot forward, and even then there’s a fair chance you might not get selected. We recommend having a backup option in place.

  2. The schedule is intense and demanding: While not strictly a con, it is worth keeping in mind that becoming an NYSCamp delegate means committing yourself to a 24/7 schedule for the full three weeks.

  3. The program is residential only: Unfortunately, if you’re unable to travel to and reside at NYSCamp for whatever reason, then there’s no scope of participation. The program is residential only.

Our review

The National Youth Science Camp offers a unique and enriching experience for high school students passionate about STEAM. With its comprehensive curriculum, expert mentorship, and diverse activities, NYSCamp is an excellent choice if you’re seeking to build a career in STEAM. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, there is no reason not to apply. It is an all-inclusive program that will expose you to not only the best and brightest experts in STEAM, but peers as well. While it’ll be incredibly challenging and competitive to crack, the effort is well worth it.

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re keen on pursuing in-depth research in STEM, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: NYSCamp logo

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Arthur Davido
Arthur Davido
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