Editor’s Note: As of press time, all the information in this story was accurate. But, as we know, things with COVID-19 can change rapidly. Please be sure to check directly with the camps concerning cancellation and refund policies or any changes to programming prior to registering. 

Summertime has a way of making parents and caregivers feel like camp counselors, with the daily, “What are we doing today?” conundrum. Chicago’s vast selection of summer camps for kids that cater to pretty much every interest and age helps relieve the burden. Some camps began registrations months ago and while you’re not too late to the game, it’s definitely time to start solidifying plans. We’ve checked in on Chicago’s favorite summer camps to get the scoop on where they stand with registrations. Read on and plan on, as best you can!

IN-PERSON CAMPS PLANNED

photo: Morton Arboretum, credit Maria Chambers

Morton Arboretum

Kids get totally immersed in nature and outdoor adventures with more than 100 camps planned among the 1,700 acres of trees at Morton Arboretum. 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: Week-long camps Jun. 7-Aug. 13
Ages: Grades Pre-K-8
4100 IL Rte. 53, Lisle; Online: mortonarb.org

In the meantime: Stay connected with the Arboretum with their robust youth and family programming or visit the grounds to watch as their Human + Nature exhibit takes shape.  

photo: Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago

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. 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. teachers who are ready to guide your kids through a positive, self-esteem-building experience. 

Dates: West Loop camps running Jun. 21-Aug. 13
Ages: Grades Pre-K-9
City-based camps hosted at Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St., West Loop, but locations also in Naperville, Northbrook, St. Charles, Vernon Hills & Mt. Prospect
Online: hifivesportsclubschicago.com

In the meantime: Schedule a Hi-Five "Housecall". You gather 3-10 kids for 1-2 hours at a location of your choosing, and Hi-Five handles the planning and supplies the equipment. 

photo: Pedalheads

Pedalheads Bike Camp

Want your kids to know the joy of bombing around on a bike all summer? Pedalheads Bike Camps can get your kiddos up and riding in one week! Geared toward kids 2 and up, the camps are held at various locations throughout Chicago and teach your kids all the basics of balance and road rules to make sure they're riding with confidence.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun.-Aug.
Locations in Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Near North, North Center, , Ravenswood, Evanston & Wilmette
Online: pedalheads.com/bike/illinois

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 science, nature, art, ecology and cooking. Each day offers a different adventure.

Dates: Week-long, half- & full-day camps running Jun. 14-Aug. 13 
Ages: Grades Pre-K-10
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
Online: chicagobotanic.org

In the meantime: The Chicago Botanic garden grounds are open for Chicagoans to enjoy. Please register for a timeslot prior to visiting. 

photo: Camp Galileo

Camp Galileo

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. Camp Galileo presents art, science and outdoor activities on a daily basis. They can provide before and aftercare and have a healthy lunch option if you’re not interested in packing your own each day.

Dates: Jun. 14- Aug. 13
Ages: Grades Pre-K-7th
Camps offered in Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Evanston, Northbrook, Winnetka, Arlington Heights, LaGrange, & River Forest.
Online: galileo-camps.com

photo: The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table offers hands-on cooking fun all 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. 7-Sept. 3
Ages: Part-day, ages 4-7; Full-day, ages 4-14 & 7-10
2337 W. North Ave. (Wicker Park) & 2864 N. Lincoln Ave. (Lakeview)
Online: kids-table.com

In the meantime: Sign kids ages 2-14 up for Virtual Cooking Classes. 

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 basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and lacrosse, just to name a few.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 14-Aug. 20
Ages: Grades Pre-K-4th
Locations in Chicago at the Walt Disney Magnet School & Glencoe 
Online: gameonsportscamp.com

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 offered Jun. 21-Aug. 27
Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio, Near North Side
Online: chicago.cervantes.es

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. 7-Aug. 5 (Some camps are sold out, so plan soon!)
Ages: Grades 1-8
523 S. Webster St., Naperville
Online: napersettlement.com

photo: Steve and Kate

Steve and Kate Camp

Typically this is perfect for the camper that needs a flexible schedule (pick a day, a week or a month), but for this year only, they are requesting campers book a week-long camp. But, they still appeal to 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: Weeklong camps, Jun. 14-Aug. 27
Ages: 4-12
Locations in Lincoln Park & West Loop (Lincoln Park location currently on a waitlist)
Online: steveandkatescamp.com

photo: Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is hosting summer camps at various Chicagoland locations, making their camps convenient no matter where you live. These camps offer mini soccer fans the opportunity to learn from professional and experienced staff, regardless of their soccer ability. 

Dates: Week-long camps Jun. 7-Sep. 3
Ages: 6-14
CIBC Fire Pitch, 3626 N. Talman, North Center
Online: chicagofirefc.com

photo: Bubbles Academy

Bubbles Academy

Bubbles Academy's has a year-round preschool program that offers a summer semester for kids ages 2.5-5. The best thing about this arts-integrated preschool format is its flexibility—you can choose to send your child 2, 3 or 5 days a week. 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.

They will also host an in-person STEAM-focused summer camp for kids going into grades 1-2. Campers will run, play, create and get messy while they explore the interdisciplinary magic in science, tech, engineering, art and math. 

Dates: Jun. 7-Aug. 27 (for camps & pre-school)
Ages: 2.5-5 for preschool; Grades 1-2 for summer camp
2184 N. Elston, Bucktown
Online: bubblesacademy.com

In the meantime: Sign up for Virtual Classes or in-person classes

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. 21-Aug. 13; Session 1, Jun. 21-Jul. 16; Session 2, Jul. 19-Aug. 13
Ages: PreK-9th Grade
Banner, 1225 Riverwoods Rd., Lake Forest
Online: bannerdaycamp.com

Covid-19 Update: Banner is planning on hosting their in-person 2021 summer camps.

photo: Facets

Facets

Don’t let the venue fool you, this camp is much more than sitting around watching movies all day. Campers will get an intro into the art of film with a mix of offerings like editing, animation, intro to filmmaking and camper-favorite Film 101, which combines film criticism with basic filmmaking skills. They have a mixture of virtual, hybrid and in-person camps and have expanded their offerings from previous years to include a broader range of ages. 

Dates: Jun. 23-Aug. 27
Ages: 8-14 & 15-17
Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Lincoln Park
Online: facets.org

In the meantime: Kids can stream age-appropriate film shorts via Facets Kids.

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. Their in-person Summer Mini-Camps have themes like dance, percussion, visual arts, guitar, fiddle, songwriting, stand-up and storytelling, or improv.

Dates: Week-long camps available Jun.-Aug.
Ages: 5-14
4545 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square
Online: oldtownschool.org

In the meantime: Many of their classes are now offered online, so you don't need to miss a beat with your kid's musical education.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo

During Conservation Camp, Lincoln Park Zoo educators will lead campers through a variety of activities that explore the fun and fascinating world of animals. Each day, campers will participate in movement activities, games, and crafts. They will get to see animals at the zoo and meet zoo scientists doing important conservation work.

Dates: Week-long camps, Jun. 21-Aug. 27 (currently a waitlist)
Ages: Grades pre-K-4th
2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Online: lpzoo.org

In the meantime: The Zoo reopened its doors in March, so in-person visits as a family are a possibility.

VIRTUAL-ONLY OPTIONS

photo: Dana Murphy

Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre's virtual Take Flight Summer Camp features training sessions in theatre arts. This camp is great for beginners looking to learn the basics of performance or more advanced actors looking to hone their skills. Raven's team of teaching artists will help kids feel the confidence to contribute to the artistic process and the courage to try something new.

Dates: Two virtual sessions, Aug. 2-13 & Aug. 16-27
Ages: 8-14
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Edgewater
Online: raventheatre.com

In the meantime: Raven Theater is offering Zoom classes for young actors looking to enhance their skills.

PLANNING STILL IN PROGRESS

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 Last Zombies on Earth to The Robots are Coming camps: No summer slide here.

The Laboratory, 2349 W. North Ave., Bucktown
Online: thelaboratorychi.org

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, no announcements concerning summer camp 2021 have been made.

photo: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium is introducing a brand new summer camp offering, Camp Shedd: Summer Splash, where campers enjoy five straight days of aquatic exploration. Kids will dive into various habitats and ecosystems, come eye-to-eye with incredible animals like green-winged macaws or Blanding's turtles and participate in hands-on science activities that uncover some truly remarkable animal behaviors and adaptations.

Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus
Online: sheddaquarium.org

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, no announcements had been made concerning summer camp 2021.

In the meantime: Keep up-to-date on the daily lives of the aquarium’s animals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; create learning experiences for early learners through their Sea Curious YouTubeseries; check out live views from the Underwater Beauty special exhibit, and dive deep with 360-video views to Keep Sharks Swimming, visit Shedd's penguin exhibit daily using the Virtual Reality Penguin Expedition tool and more.

photo: Codeverse

Codeverse

Send the kids to Codeverse, the first fully interactive classroom for 1st-8th graders that is riddled with state-of-the-art technology. Your kids will learn to code, build apps, program cutting-edge gadgets and create video games, using a kid-friendly coding language, KidScript.

Locations in Lincoln Park, Naperville & Wilmette
Online: codeverse.com

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, no announcements had been made concerning summer camp 2021.

In the meantime: You can sign your child up for virtual coding classes. You'll receive a kit right to your door and kids will be guided through coding lessons via an expert guide. 

NO CAMPS PLANNED FOR 2021

photo: Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

Description: 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.

1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus; Online: adlerplanetarium.org

Covid-19 Update: Adler will not be hosting summer camps in 2021.

How to Connect: Adler's bi-monthly Sky Oberservers Hangout is an interactive program that teaches kids about the night sky and gives them a chance to ask questions. Color the celestial zoo in a one-of-a-kind coloring book, or roll up your sleeves and dive into a science activity using materials you can likely find laying around the house. The Planetarium's resources page has you covered.

—Maria Chambers

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