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Penn State’s Department of Biobehavioral Health is excited to offer DNA Camp: DNA and Your Health. This week long program will introduce students 13 to 17 years old to basic research laboratory techniques for collecting their own saliva and extracting DNA from the sample. Campers will then determine the concentration of this extracted DNA and undertake an investigation to see what DNA changes are found that may provide an insight into their own body's health. Information will be shared on how best to maintain a healthy body and their biological age through diet, exercise and getting the recommended hours of sleep for their age.

Dates and times:

June 17–21, 2024

NOTE: This camp will not be held on June 19 as this date is a Penn State/federal holiday.

9:00 am to 1:00 pm (light snacks and refreshments will be provided)

Researcher in Lab

Fee, Eligibility and Registration

The fee per camper is $250 (by June 1) or $275 (after June 1) and covers instruction, lab supplies, and snacks.

For online registration, click here.

For additional information, see our Online Registration Instructions PDF.

Accepted payment methods are American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and VISA.

  • You may not use your Penn State account to register anyone other than yourself.
  • If you are registering someone else, an account must be created with their name and information.
  • Please gather the following information for the registration: youth’s health insurance information; medical history; date of most recent tetanus immunization; and list of current medications with dosages and time(s) taken.

Registration is available only for youth ages 13 – 17 as of June 17, 2024. (Any registrations received for youth younger than 13 or older than 17 as of June 17, 2024, will be cancelled and the fee will be refunded, minus a $50 administrative fee).

COVID-19 Update

All HHD youth camps will follow all University COVID-19 guidelines that are in place at the time of camp. You can learn about Penn State’s current COVID response and view up-to-date policies and frequently asked questions on the Coronavirus Information site. Anyone who registers before the guidelines are announced will have the option to cancel their registration with no penalty if they choose. For more information, read the COVID-19 Guidelines for Residential Camps PDF.


After registering, you will receive an email confirmation. For questions regarding registration, please contact the registration staff at or 814-867-4973.


If your request to withdraw is received at least fifteen business days prior to the first day of the program, we can issue a partial refund. Send your written request by email to A $50 administrative fee will be charged for each withdrawal.


For legal reasons, the University cannot release the names or phone numbers of other participants, not even to those who want to carpool.

Frequently Asked Questions icon-olus-circle

What ages can participate?

The DNA and Your Health program was specifically designed for children ages 13 to 17. The content is geared to those who are interested in knowing what their DNA says about their health.

How late do you accept registrations?

If there is space in the program, we will accept registrations after June 1; however, please note that the camps typically fill many weeks before that and interested people will be put on a waiting list for a possible cancellation.

Where will I park to drop off my child?

The camp will take place in the Biomarker Core Lab located on the first floor in room 146 of the Health and Human Development (HHD) building. Parking can be found on campus in the HUB parking deck or in the Pugh Parking deck. The HHD building Is a short walk from these parking decks (see graph for details).

How should my child dress for camp?

Campers should wear closed toed, comfortable shoes, socks, shorts, and a tee shirt that has sleeves. No flip flops or tank tops. Hair must be pulled back if longer than chin length.

What is your cell phone policy?

Campers are permitted to bring cell phones to camp; however, they will be asked to keep them turned off and stored away during all activities.

Is my child allowed to eat and drink in the laboratory?

Campers are permitted to bring snacks to camp; however, no eating or drinking is permitted in the laboratory for safety reasons. Short breaks will be given to campers to allow them to eat and drink outside of the laboratory.

Will my child be safe in the lab?

Your child will be using personal protective equipment (PPE: like lab coats, gloves and safety glasses, when needed) in the lab to collect their own saliva and extract their own DNA. Robots will also be used to minimize any risks while in the lab.   

Can I wear jewelry while in the lab?

For safety reasons, we ask that campers remove jewelry like rings, bracelets and necklaces before coming to camp as there are no lockers available to safely store these valuables.

What will happen with my child’s DNA?

DNA will only be used for this program and will not be used for other research purposes. Campers will uniquely label their own DNA. Campers will be taking any unused DNA with them at the completion of this camp.  All protocols for this DNA camp were considered and approved not to be for human research by the Institutional Review Board at Penn State University.

Our Director icon-olus-circle

Dr. Sue Rutherford Siegel is a genetic researcher who examines interactions between the genetic and genomic basis of variation, the environmental interactions and the resulting behavioral and health outcomes of an individual. For more information on Dr. Siegel’s research visit

Camp Facility icon-olus-circle

Penn State’s Biomarker Core Lab is a state-of-the-art facility offering research support with data analysis of biological markers (e.g. hormones & DNA) as an indicator of some biological state or condition. For more information visit