The info-service is working hard to answer all your questions. We have noticed that some information is requested very often - so we want to give short answers here.

Applying for the camp

  • What is the camp like?
    • This is a hard question that can only really be answered by attending! To help, we have asked former participants to summarise their experiences. Have a look at the past camps section!
  • Does the camp involve camping?
    • The English word for camp might suggest tents and cooking stoves. The IAYC uses this word in a more general (international) sense. The IAYC is a cross between a summer school and a retreat, although it is very different to both. Participants stay in dormitories at the camp house - usually a hostel or guest house which we book out for three weeks. Food and bedding will be provided.
    • We suggest that participants bring sleeping bags and insulation mats because sitting outside all night with a telescope can get cold!
  • What kind of working groups are available?
    • Every year there will normally be at least an observing group, an imaging group, a programming group and a general astrophysics group. The remaining groups could be anything from robotics to astrochemistry depending on the leader team!
    • We are in the process of adding some example project reports and some more information about the kind of science you can perform at the camp.
    • Use the working group abstracts as a guideline. If in doubt, or you don’t know what to choose, or you want to do a project on a paticular topic, contact details are provided in the first info - leaders are happy to answer your questions!
  • What kind of projects will I do?
    • This depends on a lot of things!
    • Each working group leader will propose a list of projects that they have organised. These projects are discussed internally to make sure they’re appropriate and feasible given the timeframe of the camp. After acceptances to the camp have been made, things are fine-tuned for each group.
    • Projects are flexible and depend on the abilities and interests of the people in each group.
  • Will I get my first choice of working group?
    • As much as possible, we try to make sure that everyone gets their first choice of working group.
    • Some working groups may be over-subscribed, so this is not always possible.
    • We also try to make sure that each group is diverse - with different nationalities, ages and an equal gender ratio. This means that sometimes we need to shuffle people around.
  • Will I get a lower chance to attend if I apply for a grant?
    • Applying for a grant (financial support for the application fee) does not decrease your chances to be accepted for the IAYC.
    • Camp applications and grant applications are treated separately. Therefore, if you submit a grant application, you could be accepted to the camp without a grant.
  • Does the grant include travel expenses?
    • No. Due to limited funding, the most we are able to offer is a grant that covers the camp fee. You are still financially responsible for making your way the camp.
    • We typically organise a low-cost shuttle service between a nearby city and the camp as public transport to the camp itself may be limited.
  • What is included in the camp fee?
    • The camp fee covers full boarding, all organised programs (excursion day, working groups, NAP). All meals are served at the camp (3 per day).
    • Please note, that the camp fee does not cover travel expenses such as flights.
  • Can I attend the camp if I’m not 16 (or over 24)?
    • In general, no, you can only attend the camp if you are aged between 16-24 inclusive on the first day of the camp.5
    • Due to legal reasons regarding minors and safeguarding, you must be 16 on the day of the camp according to the date on the official document which you will use to enter the country where the camp is being held (i.e. probably your passport).
    • If you are aged 24 at the beginning of the camp, you can attend (because in theory you would have missed the opportunity to attend when you were 16! :( )
    • Don’t panic, if you’re 15 you still have another 8(!) years when you can attend the IAYC.
  • Do I need to know plenty of physics/astronomy to attend to IAYC?
    • Participants in the IAYC have very different levels of knowledge concerning astronomy and physics. All working group leaders therefore offer projects for all levels. The IAYC is a camp with the aim to bring together people interested in astronomy, no matter whether they are observing every night or have never seen a telescope before. More experienced participants and leaders are always happy to help and teach others.
  • But I’m not even studying science!
    • It doesn’t matter as long as you love astronomy! We often have participants who are not studying science-based subjects. As above, projects will be offered to suit all levels.
  • How good does my English need to be?
    • As the first info states, your English does not need to be perfect, but you should be able to have a conversation without needing to use a dictionary. In working group sessions, you may be given books and scientific papers to read which will normally be in English. This also means that the camp is a great opportunity to improve your language skills and everyone will do their best to help you if you’re struggling.
  • How important is the motivation letter?
    • It is the most important part of your application. When the leader team selects participants for the camp, they do not have much information about you to make a decision. The motivation letter is your chance to explain to us what you expect to get out of the camp and why you want to attend. When writing your motivation, it is crucial that you address these points.

Other Questions

  • Can I attend part of the camp?
    • No. You must attend the camp in full and you must stay at the camp house for the entire 3 weeks unless you have a genuine emergency. There are a number of reasons for this decision, most of them are practical. Firstly, projects are normally completed in pairs or small groups, it would therefore be unfair to your project partners if you arrived late or left early. Secondly the camp is like a big family and it is disruptive for the camp atmosphere for people to be coming and going. The start and end of the camp are the most important both for project work and for bonding with other participants.
  • Can I visit the camp if I’m not a participant?
    • Unfortunately, we do not allow non-participants to visit while the camp is in progress. The IAYC should be considered a private event.
    • This is for the benefit of the camp atmosphere and to safeguard participants and their belongings. For the same reason, we explicitly arrange with the house that we will be the sole occupants of the camp house.
    • If you attempt to visit the camp house during the IAYC and you are not a participant, we will (politely!) ask you to leave.
    • Please note this policy includes parents or guardians with the exception of arrival/departure day.
  • I would like to volunteer at the camp, is that possible?
    • Due to the way the IAYC works, unfortunately we do not allow any volunteers during the camp.
    • If you would like to support the IAYC then we accept donations which will be put towards helping financially disadvantaged participants attend the camp.
  • Is the leader team paid?

    • No, the camp is organised entirely by volunteers (leaders). This includes members of the parent organisation, the International Workshop for Astronomy.
  • Do you make a profit from the camp?
* IWA e.v. a non-profit organisation so most camps we budget to break even (i.e. we spend as much as we make from pariticipation fees). Typically we operate the camp at a loss (i.e. n_participants * participation_fee < camp operating cost) and have to rely on other funding sources such as grants or donations. * If, for some reason, we have additional money available, this is used for funding our grant programme or for upgrading equipment. * Because we’re a non-profit, we are able to offer the camp at a reasonable price. We think that the camp is very resonably priced compared to alternative events and we want to keep it that way!

After you’ve been accepted

  • When do I find out which group I’m in?
    • You will find out after being accepted, but nearer to the camp start date.
    • As we may have drop-outs, or other withdrawls from the camp, the participant list changes and we need to rearrange working groups. We will send out the working group distribution when the camp participant list is final - i.e. we can’t guarantee a fixed date.
  • I have a question about my working group / I’m not happy with my choice

    • If you’re not happy with your assigned working group, please get in touch with us and we’ll figure something out!
    • Remember that your working group is flexible - if you really want to do a project on a particular topic, your working group leader can normally make it work.
  • How can I travel to the camp?
    • The IAYC does not organize the travel to and from the camp location. There will be detailed information in the 2nd info about how to travel to the campsite, including information about the closest airports, train connections etc. You will receive the 2nd info after you have been accepted to attend the camp.
    • Nowadays, participants are able to coordinate their arrival/departure via Facebook (we organise a private group for each year) and travel together in groups.
    • We may organise a shuttle bus service from a nearby station to the camp house itself, if we do, details will be in the second info.
  • What should I bring to the camp?
    • A list of items is provided in the 2nd info document, which you will be given a link to. The list is not exhaustive, but should give you an idea of what to take.
  • Do I need a sleeping bag or an insulation mat?
    • A sleeping bag is useful if you intend to do a lot of observing every night. We suggest you bring one, but people also manage with warm clothes.
    • You should bring an insulation mat. A cheap foam one is fine!
  • Do I need a laptop?
    • Not necessarily, but it’s very useful.
    • You will need a laptop to write your project report. It is usually possible to share with your project partner, but having your own laptop makes things easier! Most resources will be electronic (PDF), like scientific papers or ebooks.
    • If your project is likely to require a laptop then your leader will probably tell you before the camp.
  • Do I need to install any software before arrival?
    • No. Any software you need, including LaTeX (used for writing your report) will be provided by your working group leader. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date!
    • If you want to install LaTeX before you get to the camp then feel free. Mac users should use the latest MacTeX package here. Windows users should use MikTeX: download the Net Installer to perform a complete installation, not the Basic installer. Linux users should check the instructions for their distro.
  • Can I bring my telescope?
    • Yes! Please do. We will arrange a secure storage room where you can safely keep any astro equipment that you bring. Make sure you label anything you bring to the camp so that you (and others) know it’s yours.
    • Note that we cannot be liable for any damage that is caused to any equipment brought to the camp that does not belong to IWA.



If you feel your question has not been answered feel free to contact the info team at info@iayc.org.