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Do you ever make exceptions to the ratings minimum? Will you hold a spot for my child until he or she qualifies?

  • Unfortunately, we cannot make exceptions nor can we hold a place for someone while he or she tries to qualify. We always fill up, and we always have players on our wait list who are just a little short of the minimum. So it wouldn't be fair to the wait list players to hold a spot for one player while not doing the same for all of them. And we cannot hold spots for everyone who is trying to meet the minimum, as that would be unfair to players who are already eligible and wish to register. Our advice is to play as much as possible and qualify as soon as possible!

Is there internet connectivity in the dorms? What about in the classrooms?

  • Yes, internet is available in the dorms, both wireless and ethernet. Please request a password from Emory staff when you check in. It may also help to bring an ethernet cable, as the wireless connection in the dorm can sometimes be difficult to connect to depending on your computer and what anti-virus software you have installed. In the dining hall, classrooms outside the dorm, the tournament hall, and other public areas of Emory, you may connect by wireless through "Emory Guest" without the need for a cable or a password. 

Are the dorms and classrooms air-conditioned?

  • Yes! Dorm rooms have individual adjustable thermostats, much like hotel rooms. Classrooms and the tournament hall are occasionally overly cooled, so bringing a light jacket to camp is always a good idea.

Is there a laundry service, or laundry facilities?

  • Emory does not offer laundry service. There are laundry facilities for use in the dorms free of charge, and older campers who don't require supervision may use these with permission from their group counselor either during afternoon rec time or during the evening, but loads must be finished before lights out. Bring your own laundry detergent.

Why do you require a minimum USCF rating?

  • Having a whole group of campers that are already at a certain level allows us to take full advantage of our talented instructional staff. A week is just not very long, so rather than spending time teaching the basics, our instructors can jump right into the finer points of the game.

    In addition, chess notation is like a foreign language, and our camp is a total immersion experience. If you're not fluent, it's going to be difficult for you to keep up- or worse, you might slow down the rest of the class.

    There are a lot of really great camps out there for the beginning player, both day camps and overnight camps. We're looking to provide something really special for more committed, more advanced players.

What is the average playing strength of the campers?

  • The average rating of all campers for the past three years has been around 1700. The top group typically ranges from 2000-2300. 

The timing of the camp doesn't work for us- why is your camp so early in the summer, when some schools are still in session? Can you move it?

  • Logistically it would be very difficult to move the camp to a different week. The Emory facilities that we use are not generally available later in the summer, and we also try to plan around other big chess tournaments and camps for the sake of our staff. We truly regret that some potential campers are still in school that week, but there are simply no better options for us for the time being.

How long has the Castle Chess program been in existence?

  • The original Castle Camp in Bradford, Pennsylvania was founded in 1982. The Atlanta affiliate was created in 2001 with the same philosophy and goals. In 2005, the Bradford camp folded.

What is your tax ID number and address so that I can write off the camp under the Child Care Tax Credit?

  • TAX ID 26-1579707, address 955 Azalea Dr, Roswell GA 30075. However, it is our understanding that the cost for overnight camps does not qualify. This notification is in no way to be construed as tax advice. Please consult a certified accountant for help on this issue, or consult the IRS website. 

What about parking on campus?

  • Adults who plan to be on campus every day MUST request a parking pass IN ADVANCE that will allow them to park at one of the visitor parking decks on campus. Adults who only plan to come to campus occasionally in the evenings or on the weekends do not need a parking pass since the campus has open parking after 7 PM and on the weekends.

    Parking passes are issued at check-in. There is no charge for these passes, although if you lose one or fail to turn it in upon check-out, you will be charged a small replacement fee.

What time do I need to arrive by, and what time should I plan to leave?

  • Please plan to arrive on campus between 1:30 and 3:30 on the first Sunday of camp. This is the formal check-in time for the dorm. (If you are flying, arrival time should be no later than 2:30 to allow for time to collect baggage and drive to campus.) Anybody who for any reason has to arrive earlier or later will have to make special arrangements in advance. Campers, especially first-timers, are strongly discouraged from arriving later than 4 PM. Orientation begins promptly at 4:30, which leads right into dinner, which leads right into the Evaluation Simul by the homeroom instructors. So later arrivals will have to wait until 9 PM to check into their rooms.

    If you are not playing the tournament, check out is Saturday morning by 11 AM. If you are playing all five rounds of the tournament, you should not plan to leave campus any earlier than 7:00 PM on the second Sunday of camp. If you need to leave earlier than that to accommodate your travel schedule, you should take byes in one or more rounds of the tournament.

    For airport departures, we recommend planning to leave campus 2.5 hours before flight time. This will ensure you have enough time to deal with luggage and traffic and navigate the busiest airport in the country. That means in order to play all five rounds of the tournament, departure flights should be scheduled for 9:30 PM at the earliest. 

    We advise all tournament players to pack first thing Sunday morning, before going to breakfast- that way if their game runs long, they can grab their luggage and go. 

What do the campers get for linens?

  • All campers will receive one pillow with pillowcase, one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, one medium weight blanket, two bath towels, and one washcloth. This is camp, not a hotel- nobody makes your bed for you, and you don't get fresh linens during the week. What you get at check-in is it for the whole week. Campers may choose to bring additional pillows or blankets or towels as they feel is necessary. Campers planning to swim during rec time should bring a towel to take to the pool as the dorm towels must stay in the dorm.

What is the typical age range at camp?

  • Age range is 10 to adult. (Adult campers are rare however- usually there are around 5, and very often they are the parents of campers.) In 2015, 57 out of our 120 campers were between 12 and 14 years old.  

What about a commuter/day camper only option?

  • We used to have a commuter option, but starting in 2016 we became 100% residential. An exception MIGHT be made for medical reasons only- please email if you would like to ask about an exception.

How do you make the homeroom groupings? I'm underrated - can I be moved up to a higher class?

  • Camp is divided into groups of exactly 12 campers each by peak US Chess Federation rating achieved within the last five years. The top 12 campers are in the top group, the next 12 are in the next group, and so on down the line. 

    We wait until June 1 to make the final groupings, so campers have maximum time to post a new peak rating. (And since we use your peak, you are never penalized if you play and lose rating points before camp.)

    We get so many emails and phone calls from parents, coaches, and campers about moving up because they are underrated or they want a specific homeroom coach, or they want to be with a buddy. It would be unfair to honor these types of requests for some people but not all, so our rule is firm- nobody is allowed to move higher for any reason, ever.

    That said, we do allow people to request to move DOWN, either to be with a friend or because they think they're not playing at their peak. The logic behind this policy is that moving someone down allows the highest camper in the group below to move up, and nobody ever complains about that opportunity. On the other hand, moving someone up means that someone else gets bumped down.

    It is important to remember that Castle campers are a self-selecting group, and they tend to be highly motivated, fierce competitors and very quick with their calculations. Quite a few of them are on a steep upward trajectory, meaning lots of ratings are lagging behind campers' actual abilities. Our instructors will work to ensure that EVERY camper is challenged!  

    One last side note: if someone really is significantly underrated, the homeroom instructor will pick up on it in the Sunday night simul. Every once in awhile, someone is moved into a higher group after this opening event - but that is VERY rare.

Where do your campers typically come from?

  • Campers come from all over the US, from California to New England. In 2016, we had campers from 23 states. We also occasionally get campers from foreign countries - in 2016, we had three international campers from 3 different countries!

Can I stay in the dorm with my child?

  • Sorry, for safety reasons, only campers and staff are allowed to stay in the dorm. (Staff are required to undergo a background check and complete child abuse prevention training.) If you meet the camp minimum rating, you can sign up as a camper yourself, and pay the regular camper price. If you are interested in applying to be a counselor, see the counselor page. (But please don't apply to be a counselor just to accompany your child- we of course want staff that is committed to helping ALL the campers.)

What is the dorm like, and how are campers arranged in it?

  • The rooms are all double rooms, there are no triples or quads available. Rooms contain two single beds, two dressers, two desks, two closets, and one sink. Bathrooms are community-style baths in the hallways, with private shower stalls, toilet stalls, and a row of sinks.

    All roommate requests that are mutual are honored.

    The whole camp is in the same dorm, and we are the only people housed in that dorm for the week. Counselors sleep on every hall with the campers. The dorm floors are split up by age- Pawns Hall is the 10-11 year olds, Bishops Hall is 11-12, Knights Hall is usually mixed ages (usually sibling pairs), Rooks Hall is 13-14, and Kings are 15 and up. Adult campers are in a separate wing of the dorm, and all girls regardless of age are on Queens Hall because there just aren't that many of them. Each camper isn't more than 3-4 doors away from a counselor.

    Raoul Hall also has a wing of suite style rooms with private or semi-private bathrooms. These rooms can be reserved by adult campers for an extra fee. (Adults only because these halls are not supervised by counselors. Children whose parents are also campers may stay in the same suite with their parent.) See the registration page for more information on the suites.

    Here is a link to the floor plans and some pictures of Raoul Hall, the dorm used since 2015: (note- although the Emory site shows pictures of loft style beds, for our camp all the beds in the dorm are brought down to standard bed height for safety.)

I have special dietary restrictions. (Food allergies/sensitivities, kosher, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free.) Can the cafeteria accommodate me?

  • Absolutely. To begin with, Emory food service is nut and shellfish-free. All dishes are well-marked with symbols for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free, and the cafeteria employees are great about answering questions on ingredients whenever asked. For kosher meals and allergies where cross-contamination is a threat, we can make arrangements in advance for meals to be prepared in a special area of the kitchen, sealed, and hand-delivered to the camper for an extra cost. For more information on Emory dining, refer to 

Where do I send check payments?

  • Make checks payable to "Castle Chess Inc," include the camper name in the memo section, and mail to:
    Castle Chess, Inc.
    c/o Mike Mulford
    904 Timberline Drive
    Cameron MO 64429

Can I visit my child/observe during camp?

  • Parents are welcome to visit and observe anytime during the day, as long as they are not disruptive and they check in with staff so we know who they are. After 9 PM, no parents are allowed in the dorm. This rule is for everyone's safety. 

    Some parents come to orientation on the first Sunday, and also to the awards ceremony on Friday afternoon. 

If my camper is playing the tournament, how do I tell you what byes and what section?

  • We gather information about byes and section directly from the campers on Wednesday during camp. (Who knows what section they will be eligible for by then- and travel plans may also change. And sometimes homeroom instructors have recommendations as far as what section a camper should participate in.)

For the tournament, can I play the 3-day schedule?

  • Campers under the age of 15 are automatically enrolled in the 2 day schedule. (Campers 15 or older will be asked their preference on Wednesday during camp.) With many staff members playing in the event, we simply don't have the manpower to properly chaperone them if they play the night round, as their games will all be finishing at different times, and they cannot walk alone between the playing hall and the dorm. 

    Given all the chess information they have absorbed throughout the week, it is often better for them to take the night off anyway just to relax with their friends. We offer them some non-chess activities that night to choose from, like Movie Night and our special twilight edition of Capture the Flag. 

    If a camper under 15 wants to play the 3-day, a parent or guardian can come and check the child out of camp to stay with them in a nearby hotel. 

Can I mail a care package to my child?

  • Mail can be delivered, but it is tricky. Since mail is usually delayed by 1-3 days due to processing time in the Emory mailroom, and since the camp is only a week long, we recommend instead that you tuck a wrapped package in your camper's suitcase with a note that says "Don't open until Thursday." If you absolutely do have to mail something (say a forgotten pair of glasses) please contact the Camp Director ( for special instructions to ensure a smooth delivery.