CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp: Frequently Asked Questions

When is the next CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp?

Two identical iterations of the in-person camp are scheduled for June 21 – 25 and July 19 – 23. As the CDC Museum currently remains closed due to COVID-19 precautions, we are not able to predict yet if in-person programming will be available the summer of 2021. If the museum is not reopened for in-person programming, the CDC Museum will offer only online courses. A final decision on in-person programming will be made May 3, 2021; all applicants will be notified of the decision by email.

What will I learn at CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp?

The CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp teaches attendees the fundamentals of CDC’s work: the field of public health and the science of epidemiology. Public health is a vast field that covers many aspects of keeping populations of people healthy. It includes, but is not limited to, research, data collection, data analysis, and health education. Epidemiology, the systematic study of diseases in populations, is one of the sciences used at CDC to help improve the public’s health.

I want to be a doctor. Will I learn about medicine during the week?

No. The camp mirrors CDC’s work, and since CDC is not a clinical medical facility, the camp does not have a medical treatment focus. While we do briefly discuss the pathology of some diseases, most of the time is spent focused on the collection and analysis of data and the use of that data to improve people’s health. The camp also covers the many different career options available within public health, including medical doctors, so if you are interested in medicine, this camp could be a good learning opportunity for you.

Who can apply?

The CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp is open to motivated students who will be high-school juniors or seniors during the 2021-2022 school year. In other words, the applicant must currently be a sophomore or junior. Applicants must be 16 years old by the first day of the camp in order to comply with CDC’s laboratory safety requirements. Absolutely no exceptions can be made to this rule.

How do I apply?

After reading the entire FAQ, please download the applicationpdf icon. Applications must be mailed by or on April 2, 2021 and teacher recommendation forms must also be submitted by or on April 2, 2021.

I am not a US citizen. Can I apply?

Yes. Non-US citizens may apply to be considered for camp, but must be able to show documentation requested on the application and must bring original passport each day of camp. All documentation must be valid (not expired).

Any non-US citizen living abroad who travels into the US for camp must obtain a B1 (business) visa at customs. Accepted campers arriving to CDC’s campus will not be able to enter with a B2 (tourist) visa. No exceptions can be made. If you are offered a slot in camp you will receive additional information regarding security.

What happens after I apply?

Once your application is received you will receive two emails. The first, a notification email, will be within 48 hours of camp staff receiving your application and entering it into the evaluation process; this email is a confirmation that camp staff received your application. The second, a status of application email, will be sent to all applicants on May 3, 2021; this second email will notify you if you have been offered a slot in confirmed slot, a wait list slot, or if you were not offered a slot for the 2021 camps. Be sure to add cdcm_phacademy@cdc.gov  to your e-mail address book so that notifications do not go to your spam folder.

How many slots are available?

Each week-long camp has thirty slots available. The application for camp is competitive, with several hundred students apply to camp each year. In 2020 over 615 students applied.

I think my son/daughter would really enjoy this camp. How can I sign him/her up?

Due to the popularity of this camp, we expect there will be more interested students than we can accommodate. For this reason, we have an application process for interested students.

To ensure that the camp is an enjoyable experience for all participants, please discuss the camp with your son/daughter and refrain from applying on his/her behalf. We urge you and your son/daughter to read the information on this site and complete the application together.

Can I reserve a spot until I mail in my application?

Because this is a competitive process, we cannot reserve spaces. Once the application deadline is reached, each application will be reviewed.

How are participants selected?

Applicants are selected based on the Application Essay Questions submitted and the teacher/counselor Recommendation Form. A panel of three current or retired CDC employees will read each application and use a rubric to score applications based on completion, proper grammar, well thought-out responses, and teacher recommendations. We are seeking a diverse and eager-to-learn group of campers!

How will I know if I was selected?

All applicants are notified via e-mail when their completed applications have been received. Be sure to add cdcm_phacademy@cdc.gov  to your e-mail address book so that notifications won’t go to your spam folder.

Once the application deadline date (April 2, 2021) for camp applications has passed, applications are reviewed, and all applicants will receive notification e-mails indicating if they were given a slot in the camp or not by May 3, 2021. If you any reason you do not receive a response by May 3, 2021, contact the camp staff by e-mail – cdcm_phacademy@cdc.gov. Note that CDC Museum is not open on weekends, and the quickest way to get a response is by email.

How much does it cost?

There is no cost associated with attending the CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp, but campers will need to pay for or bring their own lunches, provide their own transportation to and from CDC’s campus in Atlanta, GA, and all campers are responsible for their own housing.

Where is the CDC?

CDC’s main campus is located at 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30329. The CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp is organized by staff in the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, at CDC headquarters.

I do not live in the Atlanta area. May I attend?

Yes! Non-Atlanta residents may apply for the camp, but are responsible for providing their own accommodations and transportation. Campers in past years have stayed with family friends or relatives in Atlanta.

What type of activities can I expect?

To make the camp an engaging and exciting experience, CDC staff members incorporate as many current newsworthy topics into the camp’s activities as possible. Due to the ever-changing curriculum and CDC facility availability, each camp’s activities may be different. Campers can expect a variety of experiences including re-created outbreaks, mock press conferences, environmental and global health activities, a laboratory session, an introduction to chronic disease surveillance, public health law, and short lectures from world-renowned CDC scientists. Activities involve more than sitting in a classroom so campers must be prepared to move around as needed.

I work in the evenings. May I leave early?

No. To be respectful to camp presenters, campers are not allowed to leave early or arrive late. Please make arrangements that allow you to attend the camp from 8:45 am to 4:00 pm each day.

My parents work at CDC. May I have lunch with them?

No. While we understand that you may want to visit with your parents, your best chance of getting to know your fellow campers is by staying with the group — even during lunch.

Science is not my best subject. May I still apply?

Yes! The field of public health is full of professionals with a diverse range of expertise — and not all are scientists! You only need to be eager to learn to apply for a camp slot.

What will I need to bring with me?

A government-issued picture ID is required to get through the security checkpoints. If you are selected as a camper, you will receive additional information on what you will need to bring with you.

Who will be attending the CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp?

Thirty high-school juniors and seniors will be selected for each week-long camp session.

Most attendees are from the Atlanta area, but every year we have out-of-state, and even out-of-country attendees. This is a wonderful opportunity to make friends from other schools!

Page last reviewed: January 28, 2021