Summer Camp Fun: Your 2021 List

Swimming, arts and crafts (and fine arts, too!), cycling, tennis or just the time to really explore that academic subject your kid is really into — this is what summer is all about. We’re lucky that with summer’s longer days and generous school breaks, there is ample time to enjoy everything summer has to offer. We’re also lucky that so many camps are offering diverse experiences for kids, including in-person and virtual options. Whatever type of summer camp experience your child is ready for, Chicago Parent’s advertising partners fit the bill. Check out what’s on offer.

Baker Demonstration School

Baker Demonstration School offers options for the whole summer or just three or four weeks for day campers ages 3 years (potty trained) through eighth grade. Each week is themed, with options including music, outdoor adventures, technology and more. Campers in grades 1-5 will have the opportunity to enjoy Baker’s indoor swimming pool, and walks to Lake Michigan for a weekly beach outing will be available as COVID-19 precautions allow. Campers will also be able to spend time in the maker lab, art studio and spacious field and playgrounds that are a part of Baker’s campus.

Camp Nicolet

The North Woods of Eagle River, Wisconsin, is where your daughter aged 7 to 17  will build memories, make new friends and try activities — like waterskiing, wakeboarding, tennis, swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking and sooo much more. Did we mention horseback riding? And theater arts? And, for older campers, adventure trips include backpacking, canoeing and kayaking to some of the most pristine and beautiful places in the world. This summer, one six-week camp session will keep all campers safe and secure.

Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University

This summer, encourage your child to explore topics of high interest, build upon their academic strengths and connect with a global community of peers. Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University has an array of online program offerings featuring fast-paced, advanced enrichment and credit-bearing courses; high-school honors and AP courses; single and multi-week programs; and flexible asynchronous and live program options. Course subject areas include engineering and design, writing, math and leadership and service learning. Expert instructors offer project-based learning and social activities that create community and support social-emotional learning.

CTD has also partnered with GEMS World Academy Chicago to bring enrichment courses to their in-person summer camps. Learn more at the GEMS World Academy Chicago website.

The Avery Coonley School

Summer programming at the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove is academically and physically challenging fun for curious kids entering kindergarten through eighth grade. Students are mindfully grouped with other gifted peers to maximize socialization with students who are blossoming critical thinkers and lifelong independent learners. Campers dig into STEAM, humanity, fine arts and phys ed fun. Enrichment plus recreation (and instructional swimming for some cohorts) programming takes place on-campus — or campers can participate in enrichment programs remotely.


McGaw YMCA in Evanston is the place for 100 days of summer fun. This year, day camps and youth programs will also be available at the Children’s Center, Family Focus Center and three District 65 elementary schools, and Camp Echo will offer overnight camp fun in Fremont, Michigan. Middle schoolers will love MetaMedia, a free digital media and maker education place and program designed to increase access to technology. Or jump into sports and swimming programming for all ages. #100DaysMcGawY

The Forge at Lemont Quarries

This summer, kids can experience 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 beauty of the Des Plaines Valley. Adventurers ages 7-14 spend their days engaged in fun, theme-based activities that blend science and technology with wilderness exploration. At Quarry Camps at The Forge: Lemont Quarries, kids enjoy aerial adventure courses, mountain biking and nature hiking — plus time to chill and make friends.

Campers, counselors and all camp staff will adhere to CDC, state and local health department guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Strict guidelines currently in place in the park will carry over to the summer camps.

Bennett Day School

Each morning at Bennett Day Camp, campers (JK-fifth grade) will participate in art, athletic and STEM activities that will be based on the day’s theme. In the afternoon, campers get to “choose their own adventure,” such as drone racing, sewing and textiles, claymation, photography, coding, mechanical engineering and sports. Sixth to 10th graders dig into specialized camps that give them real-world experience designing and building with reclaimed wood and creating an app for a local nonprofit. There’s also a Counselor In Leadership Training program for 11th- and 12th-grade students to receive hands-on experience in childcare and receive CPR and first-aid certification. Field trips to neighborhood parks, scavenger hunts, walking art challenges and more align with COVID-19 protocols.

Music Theater Works

At Music Theater Works in Wilmette, YouthREACH is celebrating its 20th anniversary with  programming that engages musical theater-loving kids who love to shine. The Kids Company Summer Workshops bring kids together to create a show in just six days and every child gets a solo speaking or singing part plus the teamwork of a chorus. For teens serious about musical theater, The Youth Company this year will create a professional production of Chicago The Musical. The production will be outside at Northshore Center before a live audience, making this summer feel closer to normal for kids.

The Second City

Have The Funniest Summer Ever! The world-famous laugh academy, The Second City, is offering kids the whole gamut of summer programming this year. In-person and online camps led by the Second City Training Center’s comedy pros are open to kids ages 7 to 18. Develop crucial skills like creative thinking, self-confidence, listening, brainstorming, team building, empathy and communication — all while having loads of fun! Areas of focus include improv, writing, acting, stand-up, storytelling and more. No prior experience necessary; just bring your sense of humor!

YMCA of Metro Chicago

YMCA of Metro Chicago is planning a full summer calendar of in-person and online summer camp options for kids to connect with peers, pursue interests, and just have fun. Day campers from tots to teens will enjoy engaging themes, flexible extended hours and lifetime memories at 15 locations. Parents enjoy peace of mind, too. All Y in-person camps follow CDC and American Camp Association guidelines; YMCA staff are selected for their skills in first aid and COVID-19 protocols, and their attention to YMCA values of care, responsibility, and equity. Online specialty camp options are just as fun and immersive, so be the early bird and sign up now.


At Pedalheads camps, kids ages 3-12 will learn how to take their biking skills to the next level. With camps for newbies, camps for kids who are just starting without training wheels or experiences for more “veteran” bikers, there’s something for every new cyclist. Each program is a week long with before and after care offered. Campers learn how to ride in a group, safely navigate intersections, use hand signals and even how to perform basic bicycle maintenance. The camper-to-counselor ratio is four or five to one, with COVID protocols in place, and kids are placed with others their same age and skill level. At the end of the week, those who are ready cycle on a nearby park trail and ride on calm and quiet residential streets.

Interlochen Arts Camp

For creative kids ages 8-19, Interlochen Arts Camp is the summer experience of a lifetime in an idyllic northern Michigan setting. Campers can select programs in creative writing, dance, interdisciplinary arts, film and new media, music, theater or visual arts — and not all programs require an audition for entry. This summer, as part of Interlochen’s COVID-19 preparedness plan, students will be grouped by their program and will experience all aspects of camp within their cohort, including classes, recreational activities and meals — enhancing safety while facilitating deep bonds and giving each student personalized attention. For those who prefer a virtual arts education experience, Interlochen offers its highly rated Interlochen Online.

Jellystone Park in Caledonia, Wisconsin

Why should all the camp fun belong to the kids? This summer, get the whole family involved at Jellystone Park in Caledonia, Wisconsin. It’s the perfect getaway for families looking for lots to keep the kids entertained. First-time visitors are always surprised by the resort, which is located 75 miles north of Chicago and about 20 miles south of Milwaukee. Jellystone Park in Caledonia’s spacious grounds accommodate everything from simple tent sites to premium spaces with concrete pads and full hookups. Comfortable cabins have basic amenities or full kitchens for ultimate glamping. Enjoy Jellystone Park in Caledonia’s sister property, Bear Paw Beach & Adventure Island, with its five-acre sandy beach and the Midwest’s largest floating water park and obstacle course.


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