What is Launch Academy?

Launch is a five-day, four-night summer academy for high school students that aims to prepare the heart and mind for the next step in their educational journey. Our expert instructors spend a week preparing students to take standardized tests, helping them on college essays, and improving understanding of advanced academic subjects.

But it’s not just school work. We also aim to inspire and light a fire under the students. The incredible roster of guest speakers we bring in give diverse perspectives on success, education, and blazing your own path in life. The experiences, lessons and perspectives presented are invaluable to students who are about to begin their journey as adults.

And don’t worry – we have some fun too. We go to the beach at spectacular Santa Cruz, host scavenger hunts, hold morning yoga classes, and hike the stunning Pogonip forest and state parks nearby.

Many of our students finish the week having essentially completed their college applications. Some discover a passion they never knew they had. All make new friends and are better prepared for the upcoming school year.

Launch Camp of Kids Sitting Together in Front of a Lake

What’s a typical day like at Launch?

7:00 AM Wake Up Call / Optional Morning Workout
8:00 AM Breakfast / Student Check-in with Team Leaders
9:00 AM Morning Academic Session. This could be any of the following:

  • ACT/SAT Prep Classes
  • College Interview Practice
  • College Search Guidance
  • Personal Statement/College Essay Workshops
11:00 AM Morning Break & Snack
11:15 AM Guest Speaker
12:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Santa Cruz – Free Time
3:00 PM Back on Campus: Meet with mentor groups (coffee and tea available)
3:30 PM Afternoon Academic Session. This could include any of the following:

  • ACT/SAT Prep Classes
  • College Interview Practice
  • College Search Guidance
  • Personal Statement/College Essay Workshops
5:30 PM Dinner Served
6:45 PM Guest Speaker/College Application Essay Work
8:00 PM College Prep Bootcamp with CEO/Founder Billy Downing
10:00 PM Wrap up academic sessions
an image of a teacher writing on a white board in a classroom setting

What are the accommodations like?

Launch is held at scenic and renowned UC Santa Cruz where we stay in the school’s dormitory. Students stay two-or-three to a room. Sheets, pillows, a light blanket, and towels are provided. You are welcome to bring any additional bedding if you would like.

The UCSC dining hall provides 3 delicious meals a day plus we provide snacks and late-night pizza and ice cream. No one goes hungry! All special dietary requirements are easily accommodated by UCSC’s chefs.

a group of students at a Launch event sitting in chairs outside with an instructor in front of them all speaking to them

When and where should my child arrive/depart?

Camp will begin Monday at 11 am at UCSC College Nine. Students flying in should land at San Jose Airport and await a LAUNCH team member to pick them up at a predetermined location and time. Shuttles will transport students from SJC to UCSC between 8 am and 12 pm.

Students driving should arrive on campus between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to ensure they find parking and get situated. For students driving, please use 702 College Nine Rd Santa Cruz, CA 95064 as the address to drive to.

Camp ends Friday at 4 p.m. Students can leave after check-out and final goodbyes. Flights home should be planned out of the San Jose Airport on Friday afternoon. Shuttles will transport students to the airport between 12 and 5 pm. Friday.

an image of a Launch teacher speaking one-on-one with a student while sitting in chairs outdoors

What should my child pack/bring with them?

Here is a list of recommended things to bring to camp

  • Comfortable clothes for both cool and hot weather. Santa Cruz temperatures fluctuate significantly between mornings and evenings and the hottest times of the day.
  • Athletic shoes for hiking and our optional workouts each morning. Comfortable shoes/sandals that can be worn for long periods of time during the day.
  • Personal Toiletries.
  • Any additional bedding you would like.
  • Bathing suit/beach towel for our beach trips.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Laptop (required).
  • Calculator.
  • If you have any of the following: personal statement drafts, letters of recommendation, resume, list of achievements, test scores (PSAT, ACT, SAT, AP Subject Test Scores)

What is the cancellation policy?

We understand that circumstances can change, so families will receive a 100% refund if they cancel on or before May 31, 2024, and a 50% refund before June 30, 2024. Any cancelations on or after July 1, 2024 are non-refundable.


For all other questions, contact us.

a group of students standing closely together posing for a group photograph