Frequently Asked Questions

What supplies should I bring? Does the institute provide anything?

You should bring a laptop, pens, legal sized paper, timer (to keep track of speech time), a flash/jump drive, twin long (80 inches x 36 inches) sheets, a blanket, towels, casual attire, an umbrella, a power/extension cord, a light jacket, toiletries, etc. For fast internet while in the dorms, having an ethernet cable is also recommended, but not necessary. 

What is the process for admission? 

Unlike many camps, George Mason Debate Institute accepts all applicants who apply within the admission period. Students are able to enroll in the style of debate that they are interested in participating in, and they will be placed in the appropriate skill level after a diagnostic once they arrive at camp.

Ca​n you tell me the names of other people from my area attending the camps? 

No. It's institute policy to keep everyone's information private. 

What forms of ID do I need to attend? 

Bring a driver's license or school ID if you have one. You will be provided a Mason card when you arrive that will serve as your key and meal card while you stay on campus. 

Can the application fee be reimbursed?

No. The fee is non-refundable. 

Can I pay part of the tuition at registration and the rest at the end of the camp? 

No. Tuition in full is due upon registration. 

Can I get my deposit or tuition reimbursed if we do not attend the camp? 

If you pay early deposit you cannot get reimbursed for your deposit. GMDI deposits are refundable until March 1st. After March 1st no payments are refundable. This is necessary because we have to hire staff and reserve room space based on our hard numbers at this point. 

Can I make payments with credit cards? 

 We are currently in process to begin accepting online payments. This website section will be edited once that has been completed. GMDI only accepts payment via check, money order, or cash. Payments can be mailed to our address at: George Mason University, Jackie Poapst, Department of Communication, 4400 University Drive, MSN 3D6, Fairfax, VA, 22030.

What size sheets do I bring? Do we need pillows? Towels? 

All beds are twin long (80 inches x 36 inches). You must bring your own sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. 

Are roommate/partner requests guaranteed? 

Yes, in most cases. However, roommate and partner requests must be made in advance by both parties via email. 

Can you tell me who my roommate is? 

No, for privacy reasons we cannot. This is an institute policy. 

How safe is the dorm? 

The institute employs Resident Advisors to watch the dormitory floors every night. In addition to RA supervision, the main dormitory office is staffed 24/7, and the institute itself assigns a staff member to be available for student concerns and parental calls in our dormitory common area every night. George Mason University assigns a safety officer to the dormitory for nighttime supervision. Dorm buildings and individual rooms can only be entered with an access card that is assigned to that building or room - so we do not have issues with trespassing.

Is the Dorm Air Conditioned? 

Yes. It can actually get quite cold in our academic buildings and dormitories.

Does my University Meal Plan Include Breakfast? 

There is an Express convenience store in the Johnson Center on campus, as well as Starbucks and Einsteins Bagels. However, the University's meal plan provided for camps does not calculate including breakfast into the meal dollars amount. We have had many campers successfully cover three meals a day with the meal money, but most campers end up purchasing cereals and milks from our nearby Giant and storing breakfast items in the dorm. There are also several inexpensive places students can cheaply purchase breakfast each day that are located close to their dorm and classrooms.

How can I address special Dietary Needs? 

Please notify us of those needs in advance so we can check with housing to make sure we can accommodate those needs. If your child needs Kosher meals please notify us in advance so we can vet it with housing. Vegetarian and vegan options are available at the University dining halls.

I have a special medical need, will someone help me?

Special medical needs, such as diabetes, are handled by our staff and University Health Services, if necessary. Please let us know in advance of your particular needs. Make sure you have notified and cleared special needs with us in advance of the camp. 

What if I get sick during the camp?

You should immediately tell the people in the dormitory office. Based on the time of day and nature of the illness or accident we will either take the student to the University Health Services Office OR to the Emergency Room at INOVA Fairfax. We will always also notify parents as soon as we can get in touch with them through the contact information we are given.

How much spending money should you bring? 

The most significant variable is food. Usually students choose to order pizza or buy snacks and soda from our snack room while attending camp. Bring enough money to purchase toiletries, order pizza, and eat some ice cream. You might also need to factor supplies into your calculations. There is an ATM located outside Sub 1 and inside the Johnson Center. Coming to camp without spending money is definitely possible, but most students end up using spending money.

Are there other check-in charges? 

Yes, there is a $50 refundable room deposit payment payable to the George Mason Debate Institute due at check in. If your child does not damage the rooms we will not hold on to the deposit. 

Do I get a discount if I leave a few days early? 

No. We pay for meals and dormitory space based on full attendance so we cannot offer discounts unless arrangements are made substantially in advance. 

Are there washer and dryer facilities in the dorms? 

Yes, washing and drying is covered in the cost of the camp. We offer items like dryer sheets and Tide washing pods for 10 to 25 cents. 

Will someone pick me up at the airport? 

We offer shuttles from the Dulles airport and from the Vienna Metro Station. Students arriving from Reagan should take the Orange line metro from Reagan to Vienna, where we can arrange shuttle pick up.

How far is the airport from the campus? 

About 25 minutes by car. 

I need to work out at a gym. Can I do that at Mason? 

We cannot provide you with a pass to the university recreation facilities because of liability reasons. There are several outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts and a quarter-mile running track located minutes from your residence hall.

Can I attend religious services while at camp? 

Yes. Students may do so with written permission from their parents or guardians, and permission from the Director.

What is a typical day like? 
Monday through Fridays:

Morning Check in and announcements at 9:00 am 
Lecture 1 at 9:30 a.m

Lecture 2 at 11:00 a.m

Lunch at 12:30 p.m

Lab at 1:30 p.m

Dinner at 6:00 p.m (Commuters leave)

Resident Work Hours 7:00-8:00

Dorm Event 8:30-10:00pm

First Dorm Check 10:00pm (must be on your hall)

Final Dorm Check "Lights Out" (11:00 p.m) (must be in your room)

Weekends (we do not have classes on our second week):

Residential campers check out 10am - 12pm

Afternoon Check in and announcements at 12:30pm

Lab time from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m

Dinner at 5:00 p.m (Commuters leave)
Resident Work Hours 6:00-7:00
Dorm Event 8:30-10:00pm
First Dorm Check 10:30pm (must be on your hall)
Final Dorm Check "Lights Out" (12:00 a.m) (must be in your room)

How much free time will we have? 

Not a great deal. Most of your time at the institute is structured, even your free time. The institute tries to schedule various recreational activities.

How can parents get in contact in an emergency? 

Most students do choose to bring cell phones with them. In addition to this method, your child will receive a book the first day of the camp that includes all of the emergency phone numbers (you should contact your child and exchange these numbers or get them at registration).