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  • Lauren Viera

    Lauren Viera is the Content Manager at NPN and writes the popular Friday newsletter, NPN Weekly.

    Summer camp in Chicago: When, where and how to sign up for summer fun

    Looking for a summer camp in Chicago? Use this guide to start your search and get ideas from parent recommendations.


    Believe it or not, now’s the time to start thinking about summer camps. Many have already opened up registration with early-bird discounts, while others don’t offer placement till spring...only to sell out in hours.

    We’ve pooled advice and information from our members and staff to help get you started.

    [Related: Preparing for your child's first overnight summer camp]

    How old does my child have to be to go to camp?
    Most camps cater to kids aged kindergarten and up, though there are many camps for preschoolers. The majority market to elementary and middle schoolers, with some reserved for high schoolers and college prep.

    What kinds of camps are out there?
    If you can imagine it, it probably exists. From sewing to STEM, cooking to circus arts, Chicago really does have it all — and they’re all over town. 

    When are they?
    Most summer camps start the week after CPS lets out — for 2020, that’s June 22. Several camps around town — including Chicago Park District’s Day Camp — have multiple sessions throughout the summer. Camps are typically offered in week-long sessions, though some offer drop-in days (or even half-days), or a full-summer commitment.

    How much are they?
    The range is wide. Chicago Park District’s famously affordable Day Camp costs as little as a few dollars per hour, while others charge thousands. We know of a handful of camps that offer sliding-scale tuition, too. On average, though, most weeklong day camps fall in the $500 range.

    [Related: How to tell if a summer camp is a good fit for your child]

    Summer Camp 2019 parent reviews
    NPN members on our forum discuss which camps their kids liked (or didn't). 

    Steve & Kate’s Camp
    “I have no idea WTH goes on in there, but she had fun even though she didn’t know anyone.”

    RetroActive Sports Camp, Menomonee Club
    “Seems very basic and takes place in a gym all day, so I don’t really get it, but the kids are wild for it.”

    Dream Big Performing Arts Camp
    “Their ‘performances’ are really cute — if a little chaotic.”

    Summer at Latin, Latin School of Chicago
    “Kids did all 7 weeks and loved it as always.”

    East Bank Club Summer Camp
    “Daily swimming, tons of gym time and specialty classes like tennis and soccer.”

    Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Summer Camp
    “Between the family open houses and the email communication, I actually felt like I had a good idea what was going on.”

    Game On! Sports 4 Girls Camp
    “Learned a ton of sports and gained major self-confidence.”

    The Laboratory Collective Summer Camps
    “AMAZING! I’ve never heard my daughter talk about a camp so much.”

    Sew Crafty Studio Summer Camp
    “I’m always so impressed how they can learn in such little time."

    Read more summer camp parent reviews on our discussion forum

    Lauren Viera

    Lauren Viera is the Content Manager at NPN and writes the popular Friday newsletter, NPN Weekly.

    More related articles

    Preparing for your child's first overnight summer camp

    How to manage your and your child's emotions about the first summer at overnight camp.

    How to tell if a summer camp is a good fit for your kid

    How to vet a summer camp for your child: the questions to ask, the signs to look for and how to ensure the safety and happiness of your child all summer long.

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