Canoeing? No. Kayaking? Yes – at summer camp in Chicago

You read correctly. We may be in the dead of winter, but if you have children, it’s not too soon to start thinking about summer camp registration. In fact, slots for some programs fill up fast over the winter, and if you don’t act quickly, your kids could miss out on some great summer opportunities (and you on some summer peace and quiet!)

Below are some great Chicago summer camp offerings. All programs are day camps unless otherwise noted.

Naturally, Urban – Lincoln Park Zoo Conservation Camp 2009

What: Weeklong, full or half-day camp sessions introducing children to the Lincoln Park Zoo, it’s animals and habitats, and various conservation issues

Where: The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago

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

When: Weeklong sessions available from June 15 to August 14 (excluding the week preceding the 4th of July)

How: Registration begins Monday, February 9 online, price are listed here (PDF)

Summer at Latin

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

Where: The Latin School of Chicago

Who: Tots through twelfth graders

When: Various summer dates

How: Registration is open now online, prices range from $325 to over $2,000 depending on the program

Parker Summer School

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, Chicago

Who: Children aged three to fifteen

When: Various summer dates

How: Registration is open now through April 15 (form), prices range from less than $100 for day sessions to over $300 for multi-day sessions

Camp at Lakeview

What: Three different camp programs for varying ages with activities including singing, sports, games, fieldtrips, behind the scenes experiences, and swimming

Where: The JCYS Lakeview Family Center or JCYS Camp Henry Horner (an hour from Lakeview)

Who: Kindergarteners 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

Old Town School of Folk Music Summer Camp

What: Music and theatre camps for young children (kids group classes are also available)

Where: The Old Town School of Folk Music location at 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago

Who: Children aged six through ten

When: June 22 through July 17 for music camp and July 20 through August 14 for theatre camp

How: Registration is open now until 5:00 p.m. on January 25 (form), prices range from $1,100 for full-day four week sessions to $2,100 for full-day eight week sessions

Bubbles Academy Summer Camp

What: Day sessions where children exercise their mind and bodies through themed activities including projects, snack time, stories, and games in a 10,000 square foot facility

Where: The Bubbles Academy site at 1504 N. Fremont in Chicago

Who: Children aged three to five

When: One or more day sessions available July 6 through September 3

How: Registration is available online here, prices range from $45 to $75 a day depending on the number of days attended

Nature Museum Summer Camps

What: Camps that connect children to the wonders of nature through a combination of art, music, movement, hands-on science activities, and live animal encounters

Where: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago

Who: Children aged four through eight

When: Multi-day sessions running in July and August

How: Registration is available online here, prices range from $365 to $575 depending on the session

There you have it! Be sure to explore the links above as many of these organizations offer great summer events and classes for kids in addition to their summer camps. 

Know another good Chicago summer camp that ought to be on this list? Let everyone know with a comment below!

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  • Sophie's Mom

    Also, The Kids' Table in Bucktown offers adorable cooking “camp” for all ages (toddlers to teens). Advice to all prospective campers: register soon, spots are filling up fast.

    What a great, comprehensive list of camps. This post, along with the rest of the site, is a terrific resource for Chicago moms and dads.

    Summer in Chicago – the light at the end of the (freezing) tunnel. Dust off the Lilly's invest in SPF 50 and daydream about the great activities to enjoy with the kids!

  • mary barnicle

    Perhaps it goes without saying – but the Chicago Park District has many day camps. On-line registration begins April 21 @ 9 am.

    Fred's Camp in Lincoln Park is well known.

    The Adler has short summer camps ages five and up, registration starting February 9 at 10 am.

    Also through the Adler, the Summer World Tours camp takes kids to all the museums on Museum Campus, one week, most of the day. Same registration information.

    For the academic-minded Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development and National Louis University Center for the Gifted ( offer summer programs in city and suburban locations, admission through testing. Information isn't out on those yet.

    The JCC's Camp Apachi is popular. Registration is already open.

    Not afraid of a drive to the suburbs? Brookfield Zoo has nice week long camps ages five and up. Registration starts Tuesday February 3 at 9:00.

  • Trinity Academy also offers summer classes for those who just want to test the waters before enrolling in the full program.

    Taste of Trinity invites boys and girls ages four through 12 to discover the basics of Irish dance, learning the proper techniques of movement set to the rhythm of Irish music. Each six-class session concludes with a 15-minute performance for family and friends. No previous dance experience necessary. Registration is open; space is limited. More information is available at

  • b.

    can anyone tell me the best Chicago Park District summer camps?
    I am looking at Chase, Welles, Hamlin, etc. Thanks for any help.

  • There is a great camp for kids called The Mini Mogul Academy http://www.minimogulacademy. They teach kids how to start a business, write a business plan and finding grants for start-up businesses. They also allow the kids to sell their products at the Mini Marketplace and keep all the money! It's a great program. http://www.minimogulacademy.

    The listing of camps are great! I was able to find my son a great camp from your website.


  • Style of Trinity challenges kids years four through 12 to discover the principles of Irish show up, learning the proper techniques of movements set to the flow of Irish music. Each six-class period indicates with a 15-minute operation for family. No previous show up experience necessary.

  • Jerryrfoust

    Youth Company Chicago has fantastic performance-based music theatre camps for boys & girls in grades 3-6 this summer.  They meet in Lincoln Park. Camps teach acting, singing, dancing and culminate in fully-produced, professionally designed musical plays in a local 100-seat professional theater.  Tuition is reasonable – more affordable than childcare, and financial aid is available.  For more information, visit