Summer camps offer learning opportunities, fun activities
April 5, 2018

By Dolly Duplantier
and Susan Fong

What are the kids and teens going to do this summer? A variety of organizations are ready to answer this question by providing fun and educational activities. Parents can be assured that their youngsters and teens will be well cared for with interesting activities and learning opportunities.

Chicago Park District, 541 N. Fairbanks Ct., (312) 742-7529 or (312) 747-2001 (TTY),,, Facebook, Twitter (@ChicagoParks), Instagram.

Looking to keep your youngsters active, engaged, and safe this summer? Explore the Chicago Park District’s Summer Camps, Monday, June 25, through Friday, Aug. 4. Chicago Park District staff take great pride in planning an awesome summer day camp experience for campers of all interests. Each week of camp includes energetic team building and cooperative games, visual arts and writing activities, outdoor and environmental education, performing arts and imaginative play, and active games and fitness activities.

The standard six-week camp is for children ages six through 12 and offers unique arts and crafts, skill development activities, sports, team games, and other cultural and recreational classes. In addition, campers will have fun with nature, go on weekly field trips, and make regular visits to the local pool or beach. The Chicago Park District also offers a Play Camp for children ages three to five years old and a Teen Camp for 13 to 15 year olds. Numerous specialty camps are also available, including Sports Camps. Late Summer Camps take place Monday, Aug. 6, through Friday, Aug. 10 or 17 (varies by park).

Online registration begins Monday, April 23, at 9 a.m. for parks located west of California Ave., and on Tuesday, April 24, at 9 a.m. for parks located east of California Ave. In-person registration opens Saturday, April 28, at most locations. Online registration for summer gymnastics centers begins Tuesday, April 24, at 9 a.m. The summer gymnastics season runs from Monday, June 18 through the week of August 20. Summer program registration for the McFetridge Sports Center and the Morgan Park Sports Center opens Tuesday, May 29. Early bird and extended options offer convenient hours to cover the full day (eight to ten hours, varies by park). Financial assistance is available for eligible Chicago residents. Visit the Chicago Park District website for details.

At City Garden Waldorf School, each day children will get wet, dig in the sand, do crafts, listen to stories, work in the garden, and play.

City Garden Waldorf School, 920 W. 19th St., (312) 421-3050,

Discover the wonder of Waldorf Early Childhood Education at City Garden Waldorf School. Running, jumping, singing, skipping, clapping, digging and playing: this is the work of childhood. City Garden Waldorf School offers a caring and nurturing environment that nourishes the senses; a consistent rhythm that promotes health, security, and trust; real life activities that evoke reverence and wonder for the world; and a rich social environment that promotes the protection of childhood. City Garden provides an environment that educates the whole child.

City Garden Waldorf Preschool and Kindergarten is located in the Pilsen community. At City Garden’s summer camp, your child can experience good, old-fashioned, summer fun. Participants spend as much of the day outside in the private garden as possible. Each day children will get wet, dig in the sand, do crafts, listen to stories, work in the garden, and play.

A Waldorf day starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m., with aftercare available until 6 p.m. each day. Camp runs Monday through Friday, June 11 through 29. The cost for camp is $60 for one day, $250 for one week, and $700 for all three weeks. Drop in for one day or attend all three weeks. Visit the website to enroll.

De La Salle Institute Academic and Sports Camps, 3434 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 842-7355, ext. 147,, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@DLSMeteors).

Want to keep your grade school student busy in June and July? De La Salle Institute offers a wide variety of academic and sports camps to exercise the mind and body. Whether your child needs to improve his or her math skills or would like to learn something new, the De La Salle Academic and Sports Camps are a great way for students to spend the summer. Current De La Salle faculty and staff members lead four-day academic sessions featuring Algebra Fundamentals, Band, Creative Art, Culinary Arts, Drama, French, Learning to Code, Mobile App Development, and 3D Printing and Design.

De La Salle Sports Camps offer a wide variety of options for children in second grade through eighth grade, depending on the sport. These include Football, Baseball, and Wrestling for boys, Softball for girls, and co-ed camps for Basketball, Boxing, Golf, Soccer, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Speed, Tennis, and Volleyball. The De La Salle varsity coaching staff runs the sports camps stressing fundamentals, as well as skills and techniques needed to succeed in all facets of sport.

The De La Salle Academic and Sports Camps also provide a great opportunity for your middle school student to learn more about the high school environment and what it takes to succeed. Camps begin the week of Monday, June 18, and run through Thursday, July 26. For a complete list with age requirements, visit the De La Salle website.

Goldfish Swim School/Wicker Park, 1930 W. Hubbard, St., (312) 281-7946,

Teaching children how to swim is not only a mission, but a passion. Parents can relax knowing Goldfish Swim teachers have met certain standards. All instructors have current Red Cross or Ellis certificates and must have completed the school’s extensive 40-hour training period before they are able to teach independently.

Regular swim classes meet once a week for 30 minutes, six days per week (Tuesday through Sunday). Class sizes are small so that each child can receive more attention, and see results sooner. The school has a rolling admissions policy, so swim lessons can start year round.

Once a child has completed all group levels, the school also offers a rec. swim team. The team meets once a week for an hour lesson. The cost is $90 per month, and the team provides a great way to complete the program. At the rec. swim team level, the school offers mini meets for your child to compete in, and in-water coaching.

There are 12 make-up swim lessons per calendar year per child. This means if someone needs to miss a class, for any reason, just notify the school ahead of time, and make that class up when convenient.

For those interested in achieving quicker results, the fastest way to achieve goals is through the Goldfish Swim School Jump Start Clinics. The clinics are a quick and easy way to get a child swim-ready or advance to the next level. Featuring five consecutive days of lessons, Jump Start Clinics can help your child make a month’s worth of progress in just one week. Goldfish Swim School will be running Jump Start Clinics from Monday, June 18, through Friday, Aug. 17.

For more information about general information or plans and prices, go to the website.

Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago helps youngsters have a good time and learn teamwork and sportsmanship no matter what their skill level.

Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago, 1430 W. Adams St., (312) 226-6555,,

Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago, which management describes as “Chicago’s premier sports camp,” has been serving Chicago families since 1999, providing safe, cutting-edge, skill developing programs. No matter the skill level of the child, the goal remains the same: have a great time and learn the value of teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Just like its pre-kindergarten through eighth grade campers, the staff eats, sleeps, and breathes sports. Hi-Five Sports Camp is filled with professional coaches who promote the fundamentals through personalized instruction and positive reinforcement. Their mission is to stress the importance of building self-esteem while always maintaining a sense of humor.

Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago features a different sports theme every week. Whether it’s NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, Olympic, World Cup, or Collegiate Week, Hi-Five offers your camper non-stop fun and sports action.

No two days are alike, with exciting field trips to water parks and Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox games, an instructional swim program, and an all-you-can-eat hot lunch program featuring Chicago’s favorites like Lou Malnati’s Pizza. Plus, door-to-door bus service is included. After Camp Care is also available.

The Hi-Five for the Little Guys Program is specifically designed to create a more nurturing and encouraging atmosphere for younger campers. The Buddy Division (kindergarten through 1st grade), Sports Camp 101, allows emerging athletes the same activities as the big guys, promoting sportsmanship, teamwork, and skill development. Little Buddies (4 year-olds) for Buddy Ballers in Training offers downsized sports activities emphasizing coordination, teamwork, social and emotional development and small motor skills. With both programs, fun is the name of the game.

Hi-Five offers flexible two-, four-, six-, or eight-week programs with customized three-, five-, or seven-week schedules to accommodate busy families. The Fields of Dreams are located on the one-acre campus of Whitney Young Magnet High School on Adams Street in the West Loop.

Intercultural Montessori Language School, 114 S. Racine Ave., Suite 100, (312) 265-1514,,

Intercultural’s summer culture camp is open to Intercultural students, as well as children who are not enrolled during the regular academic school year. The program is for children ages three through six years. Each session is built around the Montessori curriculum: practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, and culture. The summer culture camp has the same teachers, classrooms, structure, and educational philosophy as the school’s regular academic year programs. The summer is the perfect time to keep the focus on fun, so special programming such as swimming, field trips, and special assemblies may be offered as well.

Program highlights include cultural exposure programs in your choice of languages such as Spanish/English, Chinese Mandarin/English, and Japanese/English.

The school offers five sessions: Session 1 – Musical Adventure, June 11 through 22; Session 2 – Exploring Our World, June 25 through July 6; Session 3 – Botany Bonanza, July 9 through 20; Session 4 – Journey Into Outer Space, July 23 through Aug. 3; Session 5 – Math Camp, Aug. 6 through
Aug. 17.

Choose from three plans, Half day (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), full day (8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or extended day (8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Visit the website for registration information. If you have questions, contact admissions by email at

JSP Jump Start Program,  2216 S. Wentworth Ave. or 2301 S. Wentworth Ave., (312) 328-1188 (Pui Tak Center) or (312) 842-8546 (Pui Tak Christian School),,, Facebook (

The Pui Tak Center and Pui Tak Christian School have worked together for decades serving Chinatown and Chicagoland neighborhoods by offering community and academic programming to new immigrants, children, youth, and adults. This summer, they will once again offer the JSP Jump Start Program, a seven-week program for students entering pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Students will review and prepare for the next school year through an engaging, creative summer curriculum that includes academics, field trips, gym games, and inspiring Bible activities. Each day, students will be challenged in math, reading, writing, and phonics, as well as taking part in arts and movement while learning the Bible and participating in physical education during gym games. Students will gain hands–on learning experiences during weekly field trips, engage in teamwork, and build relationships with peers through special events such as mini Olympics and a summer carnival.

The JSP Jump Start Program will take place at the Pui Tak Center and Pui Tak Christian School Monday, July 2, through Friday, Aug. 17. Students can register for the whole seven weeks for $900, the first four weeks for $550, or the last three weeks of the program for $450. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Before school and after school care is also available at an additional cost. Child Care Assistance (CCAP) accepted for those qualified. Parents may register at the Pui Tak Center or Pui Tak Christian School.

For more information, contact Karen Lee at the Pui Tak Center, (312) 328-1188, or Sarah Tang at the Pui Tak Christian School, (312) 842-8546.

Merit School of Music camps are offered with a focus on instrumental improvement or ensemble play, for every instrument and ensemble type.

Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria St., (312) 786-9428,

Merit helps transform the lives of Chicago youth by removing barriers to music education.

At Merit School of Music, the music does not stop just because school does. Merit’s summer camps
are designed to provide your young musician with the opportunity to continue building musical skills with youngsters their age (grades three through 12) in a focused, nurturing environment outside of their school program or private lesson routine.

Camps are offered with a focus on instrumental improvement or ensemble play and for every instrument and ensemble type there is: piano, flute, voice, percussion, horn, strings, jazz, chamber music, orchestra, choir, and more. Most camps end with an informal concert to give students the opportunity to perform what they have learned.

Early childhood classes and private lessons are also offered throughout the summer.

Camps meet Monday through Friday and are offered in one-week, two-week, or six-week sessions beginning Monday, June 25. Open registration begins Monday, April 16. All registration deadlines are one week prior to each camp’s start.

Sign up today via your preferred method of registration: online: go to; paper application: download the application from the website

Students new to Merit may be asked to complete an audition. For more information, visit Financial aid and instrument loans are available for all camps.

Midtown Center for Boys, 1819 N. Wood St, (773) 292-2660, Metro Center for Girls, 310 S. Peoria St, (312) 226-4886, website for both:

Midtown Educational Foundation (MEF) guides low-income urban youth in Chicago along pathways of success. The foundation’s proven enrichment programs embrace the dignity of the person by focusing on academic excellence, virtue development, individual attention, and parental engagement. MEF operates through its Metro Achievement Center for girls and Midtown Center for boys in grades four through 12. Programs focus on Hispanic and African American youth, offering after-school and summertime growth opportunities that help students of average academic ability to achieve above-average results. Programs are rooted in Catholic moral and social teaching and embrace students regardless of their religious, racial, ethnic, or familial status.

Both centers provide academic enrichment, character education, individual attention, and extra-
curricular activities for students, and parenting skills classes and discussions for the parents. An emphasis is put on character development along with academics to help every student reach his or her full potential. By learning about virtues and good habits, students develop the necessary tools to become better students, sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, and friends. In the character development class, students discuss and learn how to practically implement virtues such as respect, service to others, and hard work.

The centers also offer one-on-one tutoring where each student is assigned a volunteer tutor-mentor that works with them throughout the entire school year. With a focus on academics and character development, time spent each week with the same volunteer has proven to be an integral part of the overall improvement of the student. Midtown envisions a city where at-risk children are hopeful and excited about their futures, and confident and capable of realizing their full potential in school and later in life. They build healthy and respectful interpersonal relationships with family and friends.

Mother McAuley Summer Camps offer sports, art, theatre, and technology for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Mother McAuley Summer Camps, 3737 W. 99th St., (773) 881-6500,, Facebook, Twitter (@McAuleyMacs), Instagram (mothermcauley).

From sports to art and theatre to technology, there’s something for your child to explore at the Mother McAuley Summer Camps. Beginning the week of Monday, June 4, and running through Thursday, July 26, Mother McAuley camps are for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The theatre camps are co-ed, and all others are for girls.

Sports Camps – Mother McAuley’s athletic program has a rich tradition, built on success, hard work, and “Mighty Mac pride.” Join varsity coaches for camps in Basketball, Bowling, Diving, Golf, Lacrosse, Running, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, and Water Polo. Ages, dates, and times vary by camp.

Academic Camps include Book Club, Creative Writing, Tech Camp, and Science Camp. The week long Book Club will discuss A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Creative writers will participate in a variety of activities to strengthen the creative writing process. Campers will learn to transform and improve their projects with the latest technology during Tech Camp. Discover what makes water such a special resource and work with a team to construct a fully functioning water filter at Science Camp.

Campers who prefer Fine Arts are in luck. Mother McAuley offers Art, Comedy, and Theatre Camps. Throughout the two-week Art Camp, students will develop drawing, painting, and sculpting skills. Chicago stand-up comedian Pat McGann will help campers explore the fundamentals of comedy. They will write and perform a five-minute stand-up routine. The Curtain Call Theatre Camp is open to boys and girls and will perform Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.

Mini MAC Camp is an enrichment camp that provides hands-on, project based sessions that give girls the opportunity to explore creative environments. Each day explores something different, including Art, Music, Theatre, Technology, Science, Sports, and World Culture.

Visit the Mother McAuley website for specific camp details, dates, age requirements, pricing, and online registration.

Saint Ignatius College Prep, 1076 W. Roosevelt Rd., (312) 432-8306 /(312) 432-8448 (academics) or 312-432-8442 (athletics), sean.o’, , Facebook, Twitter.

This summer, engage and challenge your son or daughter at a Wolfpack summer camp. Saint Ignatius offers a wide variety of athletic camps and academic programs for students of different ages. Taste of Ignatius academic enrichment programs are for junior high students in seventh and eighth grade. Courses offered include Classical Mythology, JAVA Programming Basics, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science Excitement, Beginning Band, Current Events and History, Model United Nations, Introductory Spanish, and World War II and the Movies. Session I runs Monday, June 11, through Friday, June 29. Session II runs Thursday, July 2, to Friday, July 20. Academic courses will fill on a first-come, first-served basis.

Summer with the Pack Athletic Camps are for students in third grade and up. Age requirements and
dates vary for each camp. Camps for boys include Baseball, Basketball, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer, Volleyball, and Distance Running. Girls’ camps include Basketball, Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Volleyball, and Softball. Cross Country, Tennis, Sailing, Rowing, Track and Field, Swimming and Diving, and Water Polo camps area co-ed. For more information and to register online visit:

Santa Lucia Summer Educational Enrichment offers an eight-week fun and educational program for youngsters in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Santa Lucia Summer Educational Enrichment (SEE), 3017 S. Wells St., (312) 326-1839,,,, Facebook.

Enhance your child’s summer with SEE, a summer school program designed to offer enriching activities and allow students to have fun while continuing their learning into the summer. SEE combines academic and enrichment activities for kids in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It is an eight-week program.

Students are divided into three age groups and will enjoy six field trips and two in-school assemblies along with park visits and weekly cooking experiences. Sessions include arts, crafts, music, drama, singing, crafts, and more. Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) activity centers are a new addition for this summer. Campers will use Legos and STEM kits to develop their math and engineering skills. Junior high students will experience other cultures while working with exchange students from China.

SEE runs Monday, June 11, through Friday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Morning care is available beginning at 7 a.m. After care runs from 3 to 6 p.m. The program provides free breakfast and lunches for students. Register by the week or for all eight weeks. For more information, contact Mrs. Shortino or Mrs. Laura at (312) 326-7509. 

Sean Phillips Soccer, at University of Illinois at Chicago, (312) 848-6160,,

Spend time this summer learning from championship winning soccer coaches and players. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Head Men’s Soccer Coach Sean Phillips has 18 years of collegiate coaching experience at the Division 1 level and over 20 years of coaching and operating soccer camps for players of all ages and levels. The camp staff is composed of UIC coaches, current and former players from the UIC men’s and women’s soccer programs, and other select Chicago area coaches.

Sean Phillips Soccer Day Camp held at UIC is designed for boys and girls ages four through 14. Half-day options, 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m., and full-day options, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., are available.  Early drop off and late pick up options are also available.

The camp will offer goalkeeper specific training through a partnership with nationally known Camp Shutout. This program is designed for boys and girls ages ten through 18 who want to receive specialized goalkeeper training.

“Come spend time with one of our programs this summer,” Coach Phillips said.

SAY of Chicago is a co-ed recreational youth soccer organization dedicated to “Kids Having Fun.”

Soccer Association for Youth (SAY) of Chicago,,

Online enrollment now is open for Soccer Association for Youth of Chicago’s popular summer soccer league. Established in 1999, SAY of Chicago is a not-for-profit, co-ed recreational youth soccer organization dedicated to “Kids Having Fun.” It is part of a national organization dedicated to providing an affordable, safe, and enriching environment where youngsters, ages three through 15, learn the basics of the game, as well as the merits of teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Celebrating its 19th year, SAY serves over 650 children from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds throughout the Chicagoland area. The 2018 season runs from early June through mid August.

The SAY league is non-competitive and is divided into five different co-ed age divisions. These include U5, U7, U9, U12 (Jr. Premiere), and U15 (Premiere). Each team will play two games per week on Tuesdays and Fridays at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) turfed fields located at 14th and Morgan Streets; these fields are considered some of the best in the city.

Early bird registration fee (through Monday, April 30) is $110 or $130, depending on the age bracket. Fees include a season of soccer (22 games weather permitting), uniform (jersey, shorts, and socks), trophy, individual and team photos, referees (for U9 and older), and an end of season celebration. Divisions fill up quickly, so those interested are urged to sign up as soon as possible.

The SAY program is run and operated 100% by parent volunteers. The league is dependent on participation of all parents as well as the generous support of sponsors. Volunteer assistance helps provide a well-run program for all players as an affordable cost. Every parent is expected to help in some capacity. Volunteer opportunities include coach, assistant coach, team manager, picture day assistant, and others. Descriptions of each position can be found on the SAY Chicago website. Consider contributing some of your time to help the league accomplish its mission. All that is needed is the desire to help.

The Pui Tak Center and Pui Tak Christian School will once again offer the JSP Jump Start Program, a seven-week program for students entering pre-kinder- garten through eighth grade.

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Summer Lab, 1362 E. 59th Street, (773) 834-7766,,, Facebook, Twitter.

Want your child to have an exciting summer filled with great memories? Sign up for the University of Chicago’s Summer Lab. Children ages three to 17 can choose from six programs: Adventure Kids Day Camp (Grades one through eight); Fun in the Sun (Grades nursery through eight); Summer School (Grades nursery through 12); Sports Camps (Grades nursery through eight); Summer Lab on Stage (Grades four through eight), and Summer Lab Theatre Ensemble (Grades seven through 11).

Camps begin Monday, June 18,  and run through Friday, July 27. Complimentary bus service is available. All programs are fun and inspire curiosity, creativity, and confidence in each child. Summer Lab students make new friends, learn new skills, explore the environment, perform, and more.

Adventure Kids Day Camp activities include field trips, specialty classes, swimming, sports and games, arts and crafts, camp performances, theme weeks, special event days, and local adventures.

Summer Lab on Stage combines acting and music. Energetic productions begin with singing, dancing, and acting on the first day. The grand finale culminates with a pair of matinees and an evening show.

Summer Lab Theatre Ensemble is selective enrollment and audition based. Submit an audition video to

Fun in the Sun is a two–hour day camp offering arts and crafts, cooking and baking, sports and games, beach parties, dancing, museum visits, and more with experienced counselors. Children in grades three through eight have swimming twice a week, while those in grades nursery through two enjoy water play in wading pools and sprinklers. Campers in grades three through eight will also go to the beach.

The Summer Lab Sports Camp is a recreational sports camp for children of all ability levels. Love of the game, fair play, and good sportsmanship rank high among teaching and coaching objectives. All sports camps use Lab’s state-of-the-art facilities. Children entering nursery school through second grade will participate in a rotation of sports during a three-week period consisting of Little Big Leaguers, Little Strikers, Little Karate (K-2), and Fit Fun and Games. Third through eighth graders may select one of the following camps: Basketball, Gymnastics, Soccer, Swim Instruction, Volleyball, and Tennis. They can participate in one or both three-week sessions.

Summer School offers academic enrichment programs such as Math, Reading, Writing, Science, Art, Cooking, and more.

For a complete list of classes and activities, as well as details about each camp, pricing, and dates, visit the Summer Lab website.