The Canada/USA Mathcamp is an intensive 5-week-long summer program for mathematically talented high school students, designed to inspire and motivate mathematically talented high school students by exposing them to the beauty and variety of mathematics, and to impart valuable knowledge and skills for the pursuit of mathematics in high school, university, and beyond.
The environment of MathCamp tends to be relaxed in terms of rules; in fact it officially only has four rules (generally involving common sense and respect). Originally it had been stricter, though by 1997 most of the mentors found the structure too rigid and allowed for greater freedom at MathCamp.
MathCamp was founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1993 by Dr. George Thomas. At that time, there were only two students. By 1994, there were eleven students. However, by 1996 the enrollment list grew to over 90 students, as MathCamp had moved to the United States. However, Dr. T (as he is known) left in order to establish MathPath, so Mira Bernstein became the new director.
So far MathCamp has been at the University of Toronto, the University of Puget Sound, the University of Washington, Colorado College, Reed College, and Colby College. In 2007, MathCamp was located at Colby College in Maine; in 2008, it will be located at Reed College in Oregon. The administration believes that MathCamp will start to periodically cycle through 3 colleges every three years.
Students hoping to enroll have to take a 10 question application quiz of open-ended proof questions. Completion of all of the questions is definitely not a requirement; instead the selection process is more interested with the proofs and the manner in which the problems are attacked.
In addition, two recommendations (personal and academic) are required, as well as a short essay written by the student about why he/she wishes to attend camp.
The solutions to the application quiz are presented by chosen students sometime during Week 2 or Week 3.
Once a student has qualified for camp, he or she need not apply for any subsequent years.
Every day of the week (the weekends are considered to be Sunday and Monday, since field trips organized on Monday will face less crowds) there are four periods of 50 minutes each in which students may take classes. Note that classes are not mandatory, and in fact it is encouraged that students do not fill up there schedules so that they have greater time to ponder about ideas they learned. Afterwards is a 2 hour period known as TAU (Time, Academic -- Unscheduled), where students work on homework and ask questions (to mentors or peers) regarding mathematical topics.
Then there is Colloquium, a one hour lecture delivered by (normally) an invited mathematician. John Conway is a distinguished mathematician who typically delivers lectures for an entire week of camp.
Classes tend to have an emphasis on subjects in mathematics that are normally beyond the scope of high school math; instead, most of the subjects are more likely to be found in college math.
Outside of courses, field trips are organized for most weekends. There are many other non-mathematical events like game tournaments of various sorts. Games like Mafia, Mao, and Bug house tend to be highly popular.