Summer Camp ChicagoWhile winter in Chicago doesn’t inspire thoughts of summer camp for most people, if you want to get your child signed up for some of the city’s many exciting camp programs this coming summer, now is the time to act. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day diversion or a month-long experience, there is something for everyone available. Registration is or soon will be open for most camp programs, and if past years are any indication, most of them will fill up fast. Below is an outline of some of Chicago’s most popular summer camps (though as always, consult the included links for the most up-to-date information).

Lincoln Park Zoo Conservation Camp 2010

What: Weeklong, full or half-day camp sessions introducing children to the Lincoln Park Zoo, its animals and habitats, and various conservation topics. My oldest son went there for two weeks last summer and loved it.

Where: The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago

Who: Four and five-year-olds through eighth graders

When: Sessions running from June through August

How: Registration open February 23, 2010. Priority and early registration is available to zoo members and supporters of the Donors Club. Prices range from $150 to $300 a week depending on the program. Visit here for more information.

Nature Museum Summer Camp

What: Camp that connects children to the wonders of nature through a combination of art, music, movement, hands-on science activities, and live animal encounters led by Nature Museum staff

Where: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago

Who: Children aged four through ten

When: Two-week, 4-6 hour per day sessions running in June, July and August

How: Registration for returning families began on December 4, 2009. General registration begins on February 1, 2010. Prices range from $375 to $525 depending on the session selected. Discounts are available for museum members.

Summer at Latin

What: A variety of education and recreational programs ranging from nature hikes, arts and crafts, and swim lessons for younger children to digital video production, upper level mathematics, and SAT prep for middle and high school students

Where: The Latin School of Chicago

Who: Three-year-olds through twelfth graders. Participants need not be Latin School students

When: Various summer dates

How: Online registration is now open. Tuition ranges from $255 to over $2,000 depending on the program selected.

Summer Programs at Parker

What: A variety of multi-week summer camps offering activities such as arts and crafts, sports, beach visits, scavenger hunts or chess

Where: The Francis W. Parker School

Who: Junior kindergarteners through twelfth graders

When: Multi-week sessions throughout the summer

How: Registration is open now online, prices range from several hundred dollars to over a thousand depending on the program and length

Summer at Sacred Heart

What: A number of day camps and programs offering a variety of educational, recreational, athletic, and fine arts activities

Where: Sacred Heart’s facility at 6250 N. Sheridan Road in Edgewater, Chicago

Who: Children aged three to fifteen

When: Various summer dates

How: Registration is open now. Prices range from less than $100 for day sessions to over $300 for multi-day sessions

Chicago Park District Summer Camps

What: Various camp programs (day, morning and extended afternoon) at over 190 Chicago parks offering water fun, field trips, athletic activities, and cultural experiences

Who: Details available starting April 5

When: Length of camp programs vary, but most begin the week of June 28 and run for six weeks

How: Online registration opens on April 19. Fees vary by camp, but most are affordable at between $1 and $3 per hour. Full details will be available online starting April 5

Camp at Lakeview

What: Multiple programs (including day and overnight camping) featuring activities such as swimming, canoeing, hiking, rope climbing, singing, and arts and crafts

Where: The JCYS George W. Lutz Family Center, JCYS Camp Henry Horner (an hour from Lakeview) and other Chicagoland locations

Who: Two-year-olds through tenth graders

When: Various summer dates

How: Registration is available online here. Prices range from the low hundreds for one-week sessions to the mid thousands for six-week sessions

Language Stars Center Summer 2010

What: Themed language lessons in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Mandarin Chinese

Where: Language Stars’ center in Lincoln Park

Who: Twelve-month through ten-year-olds

When: Flexible dates and hours from June 14 through August 21

How: Registration is available online here (.pdf). Prices range from just over $100 to over $1,000 depending on the hours of instruction

Fred’s Camp

What: Four or eight-week day camp programs encouraging campers to participate and challenge themselves through activities such as field trips, swimming, and bowling.

Where: The DePaul University Athletic Training Center and Ray Mayer Fitness and Recreation Center

Who: Four-year-olds through eighth-graders

When: June 21 – July 16 and July 19 – August 13

How: Registration forms are available online here. Tuition ranges from $1,900 to $3,615 depending on the age group and program length.

Emerald City Theatre Summer Camp

What: Various one or two-week theatre programs with themes ranging from fairy tales and Doctor Seuss for younger children to CSI and Wicked for older campers.

Where: The Emerald City Theatre School and Theatre Building Chicago in Lakeview

Who: Three-and-a-half through twelve-year-olds

When: Various dates from June through July

How: Registration is available online. Tuition ranges from $255 to $750 depending on the age group and program length.

Paul Green School of Rock Music Summer Boot Camp

What: A two-week-long music camp focused on all things rock including music lessons, daily band rehearsal, rock history, and a studio recording culminating in a rock show.

Where: The Paul Green School of Rock Music in Highwood, Illinois

Who: Eight to seventeenĀ­-year-olds who have basic proficiency with an instrument or vocal work

When: June 14 through 25

How: Tuition is $1,100 before April 1. Visit for more information.

You can find even more Chicagoland summer camps at this list on It’s from 2009, but many of the camp programs listed are ongoing.

Know a great Chicago-area summer camp but don’t see it above? Post a link in the comments section and share it with our other readers!

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  • annmarie1307

    I'm a single mom and can't afford these camps what is a mom to do.

  • That's a very fair point, Ann Marie. I had wanted to include the Old Town School of Folk Music camp (which offers need-based assistance) but their registration had already closed. I'll work on adding some more affordable camps to the list. In the meantime, this list from About may be helpful (…). It's from 2009, but many of the programs are ongoing. The Chicago Parks District, YMCA, and Boys and Girls Club ones in particular seem to tout their affordability.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and best of luck with your camp search!

  • Cathie

    Another great summer camp option is The Entertainment Project ( It is a great full-day program and tends to be less expense than many other camps I've looked at. My kids have attended for the past two summers and will be there this summer. Also, it goes from ages 5 to 17. Sometimes it is difficult to finds camps for kids over 12. They split the kids into two groups by age so the little ones aren't with the teenagers. It's a great program and they put on 3 shows each summer that the parents just love. I know from personal experience. It operates out of Godon Tech.

  • maggie

    Hi-Five for the sports minded is great! All sports, all day! Can't beat that!

  • maggie

    Hi-Five for the sports minded is great! All sports, all day! Can't beat that!