This summer, for the very first time ever, kids can gather for nonstop summer camp fun with Quarry Camps at The Forge: Lemont Quarries — a unique space that brings together the most exciting elements of a modern adventure park and the natural beauty of the Des Plaines Valley landscape.
“We’re offering 10 weeks of week-long camp sessions this year and kids can sign up for one week, two weeks, four weeks or all 10,” says Madeline Burnside, education programming director with The Forge: Lemont Quarries.
Lil’ Adventurers (ages 7-9) and Explorers (ages 10-14) will spend their days engaged in fun, theme-based activities that will blend science and technology with wilderness exploration. The activities will vary each week, so kids who attend week after week will enjoy fresh programming each session.
The daily flow
Each day, campers will dig into activities that are designed to excite and exhilarate. “This will really ignite the activity-lover in every kid, and it’s great because Exhilarate, Educate, and Entertain are pillars that The Forge: Lemont Quarries is built upon. We’re all about providing authentic outdoor recreational fun for people of all ages and abilities,” Burnside explains.
The bigger kids can summit the Eight Towers Adventure, which is the largest aerial adventure course on the continent, while the little ones can navigate the Two Towers Adventure — fully netted and just the right size. They can mountain bike along the hiking trail or try paddlesport activities like kayaking and canoeing on the beautiful quarry lakes in the park.
“We have mountain bikes in all different sizes, appropriate for all ages and safety is our top priority,” Burnside says.
Because kids like to blend adventure and technology, they might enjoy digital Tactical Laser Tag or an augmented reality scavenger hunt called AR Adventure Games. “This is really cool and a lot of fun. It brings together the best of both worlds when kids can walk the park with a tablet and experience a troll creature that pops up and takes them on a scavenger hunt,” Burnside says.
For a bit of educational fun, kids will engage in hands-on learning to ignite their STEM senses. “Think macroinvertebrate hunts in the water where we ask questions about the environment and talk about the health of the water,” Burnside says. “Or there might be Olympic games celebration activities like a pool noodle javelin throw where kids have to predict the angle and trajectory of their throw.”
Taking advantage of the vast natural landscape of The Forge: Lemont Quarries, campers might branch out to the wooded trails to take in nature and study how birds and small mammals create homes among the trees. They may even apply what they have observed to build their own wilderness shelter, applying elements of engineering and design to make a structurally sound retreat.
By tapping into their own creativity and using the natural environment around them, campers will create art projects within nature, like a mandala or an impressionist landscape made entirely from leaves and twigs.
By the time the campers are ready for a break, it will be time for lunch followed by the free time that summer camp is all about. “They can chill and play lawn games, or they can read or journal, or just decompress with friends. This is when they will do the traditional summer camp activities, like create friendship bracelets,” Burnside says.
The safety part
Throughout all the fun of Quarry Camp at The Forge: Lemont Quarries, campers, counselors and all camp staff will adhere to CDC and state and local health department guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The strict guidelines that are currently in place in the park will carry over to the summer camps, Burnside says.
“We can promise that the kids will be in small groups of eight to 15 campers, and the cohorts will stay the same throughout the week to mitigate wide exposure. They will have a primary camp counselor who will remain the same for the entire week, though the campers may see other counselors for adventure activities and art projects,” she says. Campers will have plenty of opportunities to wash and sanitize their hands.
Kids can bring their own lunch, or they can add on to the cost of camp a food and beverage option called Quarry Lunch.
The big benefits
Summer camp at The Forge: Lemont Quarries offers big benefits to city- and suburban-dwelling kids alike. With a variety of activities and space to have fun, there is something for everyone and campers are encouraged and supported to try new things, Burnside says.
“The biggest thing about summer camp is that kids have the time to step out of their comfort zone and try new things,” she says. “I may love nature, but maybe mountain biking isn’t something I have done. But if I try it, I might find I love this new hobby I didn’t know I would love. And if I fall over while I’m trying it, that’s OK. It’s totally cool and I can try again. We are all trying something new.”
With the year kids have experienced, getting outside for extended periods of time — with structured, safe activities followed by a fair amount of downtime — is the antidote to the excessive screen time from a year of online and remote learning, Burnside says.
“Because we’ve all been inside and distanced so much this year, particularly during the colder months, being outside is a completely new element for us. We have heightened senses and we are more alert to nature and new experiences. We will be taking it all in at a much more effective rate and will be learning new skills that we can process at an elevated level due to being a little out of our comfort zones.”
At Quarry Camps at The Forge: Lemont Quarries, kids can take the reasonable risks that will challenge and exhilarate them and provide them with new experiences and lifelong memories.
“The park is built in a way to allow for risk-taking in the safest way possible,” Burnside says. “This summer at our camp, kids will learn lessons that will stick with them.”
Registration for summer camp at The Forge: Lemont Quarries is open at forgeparks.com.