Summertime has a way of making parents and caregivers feel like camp counselors, with the daily, “What are we doing today?” conundrum.  Some camps began registrations way back in November and while you’re not too late to the game, it’s definitely time to load up the calendar. From a focus on films to learning new sports, read on to find a few picks for camps to sign up for now.

photo: Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

Adler's camps will spark the scientific curiosity in everyone from the itty-bitty youngest campers to all the way up to 10th grade as they learn about the skills of science exploration. With tools like telescopes, programmable robots, and high-altitude balloons—and new friends around every corner—your kids will share adventures of cosmic proportions with their peers. Young space and technology enthusiasts will engage their imaginations, show their creative side and navigate their Universe together just like scientists.

Dates: Camps running Jun. 17-Aug. 2
Hours and Cost: Dependent upon age of child and camp selected, check website as there are too many options to list
Ages: 3 yrs.-10th grade
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus


photo: Morton Arboretum via Maria Chambers

Morton Arboretum

Kids get totally immersed in nature as they play the part of plant detective, build a forest fort and wade through wetlands in search of critters that live underwater. The Arboretum's woodlands, ponds and prairie become one big classroom where campers learn about the natural world through science experiments and creative play.

Dates: Jun. 3-Aug. 16
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with after-hours activities available
Cost: $180/week for members ($210 for nonmembers) for half-day sessions and $325/week for members ($380 for nonmembers) for full-day sessions.
Ages: K-8th grades
4100 IL Rte. 53, Lisle

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden

No way kids will suffer from summer break boredom at Chicago Botanic's camp. They'll be one with nature exploring a range of themes including art, cuisine and conservation. Campers will dissect and plant seeds, explore fragrant herbs and flowers, search for birds and early spring plans on hikes, take a trolley ride around the Garden, create take-home, science-themed projects and more! Each day offers a different adventure — register for any or all camps!

Dates: Camps running Jun. 17-Aug. 16
Hours and Cost: Dependent upon age of child and camp selected, check website as there are too many options to list
Ages: Ages 6 mos.-15 yrs.
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

photo: Codeverse


Introduce yourself to a relative newcomer by sending the kids to Codeverse, the first fully interactive classroom for 1st-8th graders, that is riddled with state-of-the-art technology, such as professional-grade lights and speakers, 3D printers, a 20-ft high def TV wall, and robotic arms. Your kids will learn to code, build apps, and create video games, using a kid-friendly coding language, KidScript. Each day of camp is either dedicated to intro to coding in Game Development, 3D creations in the Maker Lab, Robotics, Circuitry, Programming stadium-quality lights and sounds, or a personal project that allows kids to explore their own creativity and interests. There will also be organized field trips to notable local businesses, such as Apple, Whole Foods, and Pump it Up, as well as time allotted for outdoor recreation.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 10-Aug. 16
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; ask about options for complimentary early drop-off & late pick-up
Cost: $800/week (early bird pricing, $600/week)
Ages: Grades 1-8
Locations in Lincoln Park, Naperville and Wilmette

Hi-Five Sports Camp

Top priority for this camp that's a dream come true for active kids is fun. It's a total bonus that the programming keeps your child active, healthy, smiling—and perhaps ready for early bedtimes from happy exhaustion—all summer long. Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago is about so much more than winning or losing, it's about teamwork, playing hard and fair, making new friends and learning the power of camaraderie. The staff is filled with professional coaches, high school and college athletes, as well as experienced P.E. teacher who are ready to guide your kids through a positive, self-esteem-building experience. Camps in the West Loop location offer door-to-door bus service, which is exceptionally helpful for busy parents. 

Dates: Camps running Jun. 17-Aug. 9
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: varies based on number of weeks selected, check website for details
Ages: Grades K-9
City-based camps hosted at Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St., West Loop, but locations also in Naperville, Northbrook and Mt. Prospect

photo: Galileo

Galileo Innovation Camp

This camp is really the perfect combination of learning and fun with weekly themes like: Deep Ocean Explorers, Makers Workshop, Expedition to Everest and Renaissance Adventure. Galileo presents art, science and outdoor activities on a daily basis. They can provide before and after care and have a healthy lunch option if you’re not interested in packing your own each day.

Camps offered in Lincoln Park, West Loop, Wicker Park, Deerfield, Evanston, Glenview, Winnetka, Arlington Heights, LaGrange, Naperville and River Forest. See their website for date and theme options.

photo: Facets


Don’t let the venue fool you, this camp is much more than sitting around watching movies all day. During Film 101, campers learn storytelling, acting, casting, production, directing and all that goes into the art of filmmaking.

Dates: (Ages 11-14) Jul. 8-12; (Ages 7-10) Jul. 15-19
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $450, $405 for Facets members; snacks provided
Ages: 7-10 & 11-14
Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Lincoln Park

photo: The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table offers hands-on cooking fun this summer! Guided by chef instructors, kids get to chop, grate and roll their way to different delicious dishes each day. Registration is all week-by-week (full-day or half-day), so kids can join for as many weeks as they'd like. Best of all, these camps will inspire your kiddo to play a more active role in the kitchen (even cleanup!).

Dates: Camps running Jun. 10-Aug. 30
Hours: Part-day, 10 a.m.-noon; full-day hours range depending on option selected
Cost: Ranges $90/week for 2-day class schedule to $495/week for big kids in all-day, week-long camps
Ages: Part-day, ages 4-7; Full-day, ages 4-14
2337 W. North Ave. (Wicker Park) & 2864 N. Lincoln Ave. (Lakeview)

photo: Game On Sports Camp

Game On Sports Camp for Girls

Where “playing like a girl” is a form of praise, this specialized camp is focused on empowering girls in a positive and spirited environment. This camp is well-known amongst parents as being a confidence booster for daughters and is a great way to introduce new sports in fun and exciting ways. They offer tennis, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, flag football and horseback riding, just to name a few.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 24-Aug. 9
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; 9 a.m.-noon option for ages 4-5
Ages: 4-14
Cost: Attending 3–5 weeks, $600/week; Attending 6-7 weeks, $575/week; 50% discount for 9 a.m.-noon option
Walt Disney Magnet School, 4140 N. Marine Dr., Buena Park

photo: Bubbles Academy

Bubbles Academy

The best thing about this arts-integrated preschool format is its flexibility. Over 12 sunny weeks, enroll your kids for the whole summer, a week here and there, or just a day whenever you need it. Bubbles Academy’s educational philosophy of arts-integration combines content and skills taken from arts practices including dance, music, theatre and visual arts, with developmentally appropriate, early childhood learning standards and socio-emotional skills.

Dates: Day camps Jun. 3-Aug. 23
Hours: Half day, 8:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. or full day, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $75/day or $285/week
Ages: 2.5-5
2184 N. Elston, Bucktown


photo: The Laboratory

The Laboratory

Imagined by Amy and Dr. Ed, this tag team of super-friendly educators were truly thinking outside the box when they opened The Laboratory. Their goal is to bring books and imaginary worlds to life through science. Your campers will be immersed in magical worlds that follow a storyline that's moved forward by math and science. Themes include everything from Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse to The Robots are Coming camps: No summer slide here.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 10-Aug. 30
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Week-long camps, $425-$465; day camps, $90 and 3-day camps, $255 (discounts for members)
Ages: 7-12
The Laboratory, 2349 W. North Ave., Bucktown

photo: Banner Day Camp

Banner Day Camp

Much like the kind of summer camps you see in the movies, Banner has it all. There’s a 3 to 1 camper to counselor ratio, which gives your little ones access to extra special attention while participating in all the activities they could ever ask for. Banner offers swimming, yoga, a climbing wall, arts, fishing, archery, dune buggies. . . you name it, they have it. While Banner Day Camp is in Lake Forest, they do offer supervised round trip bus service for city dwellers.

Dates: 8-Week Session, Jun. 17-Aug. 9; Session 1, Jun. 17-Jul. 12; Session 2, Jul. 15-Aug. 9
Hours: Varies
Cost: Varies by age, number of days attending & length of session, check website.
Ages: PreK-9th Grade
Banner, 1225 Riverwoods Rd., Lake Forest

photo: Steve and Kate

Steve and Kate Camp

Perfect for the camper that needs a flexible schedule (pick a day, a week or a month) AND has a wide range of interests. S&K really lets kids just be kids. Your camper can sing, bake, sew, make a movie, dance or even code their own computer game in one of the several studios scattered throughout. Want to get outside? Jump in on a constant game of hockey, basketball or soccer likely happening all day long. Need some fuel? They have an in-house chef making globally inspired street foods. Sounds amazing — can parents sign up?

Dates: Camps scheduled Jun. 24-Aug. 3
Hours: Pick up and drop off anytime between 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Varies by location; day passes and memberships available; check website for details
Ages: 4-12
Locations in Andersonville, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, West Loop and River Forest

photo: Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is hosting 12 weeks of summer camps at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch. These camps offer mini soccer fans the opportunity to learn from professional and experienced staff, regardless of their soccer ability. Every camper receives a dri-fit jersey, soccer ball, player evaluation and a ticket to their unique Graduation Day event during a Chicago Fire game day at Toyota Park. If the Fire Pitch isn't convenient, check their website for a camp location near you—they have loads of options all summer long.

Dates: Week-long camps Jun. 10-Aug. 30
Hours: (Ages 2-5) 8 a.m.-9 a.m; (Ages 6-14) 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 9 a.m.-noon & 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Cost per week: (Ages 2-5) $85; (ages 6-14) $350/full-day & $200 half day
Ages: 2-14
3626 N. Talman Ave., North Center

Old Town School of Folk Music

Hosted at their Lincoln Park campus, the Old Town School of Folk Music’s mission is to create a summer experience where campers develop new skills, build friendships and have the freedom to explore their creativity. They’ll spend their days thinking independently, collaborating with their peers and discovering their own place in the arts. Camp themes are Arts, Fiddle, Dance and Musical Theater.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 24-Aug. 2
Hours: 9 a.m.-noon for ages 4-6; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for ages 7-15
Ages: 4-15
Cost: $500+ for week-long camps
4545 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square

Instituto Cervantes of Chicago

Daily lesson plans are created for campers to achieve linguistic, cultural and educational goals. Children will have the unique opportunity to learn Spanish in a playful and enriching environment through total immersion of language while highlighting each student’s creativity and capacity to learn with projects, songs and activities.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 17-Aug. 30
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ages: 4-16
Cost: $301.50/week
Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio, Near North Side

photo: Naper Settlement

Camp Naper

Located at Naper Settlement, a 12-acre living history museum in Naperville, Camp Naper offers kids the opportunity to explore, create and imagine. Each week offers a different theme and adventure to embark on.

Dates: Camps running Jun.-Aug. (scheduled is not available as of press time)
Hours: 8 p.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $45/day; $210/week; $170 for 2-day Civil War Camp (2018 pricing, may change once new schedule is published)
Ages: Grades 1-8
523 S. Webster St., Naperville

Iron Oaks

Mother Nature will be your kid's new BFF after a week of these outdoorsy camps. Each weeklong camp brings a new themed adventure, and activities include art projects, science discoveries, nature play, hikes and more. Even if you don't live near Irons Oaks, an environmental learning center in southwest suburban Olympia Fields, these are worth the road trip. The 40-acre nature preserve has trails through beautiful woods where you can spot wildflowers, birds and lots of furry friends. 

Dates: Not published for 2019 as of press time, check website
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ages: 5-12
Cost: $145/week resident; $180/week non-resident (based on 2018 pricing)
20000 Western Ave., Olympia Fields

—Maria Chambers

Feature photo: Mads Bødker via flickr