10 summer camps your kids will love

Summer is here and you still haven’t found ‘the perfect’ camp for your kids—and now everyone says you’re too late. Don’t worry, we found 10 great camps that still have a few spots left if you hurry.


Give your kids great summer memories and yourself a ‘best mom’ badge. Done and done.

Light Opera Works’ Summer Musical Theater

Every child gets their moment in the spotlight at Light Opera Works’ Summer Musical Theater Workshops.


Perfect for kids 8-13 with or without theater experience, Manager Anya Plotkin says the kids quickly make friends and gain confidence while putting on an unforgettable show after only six days.

This summer students will be doing Legally Blonde, The King and I and Guys and Dolls, plus others.


Not only do they learn to handle their solo responsibilities, they learn to work as a group, Plotkin says. “Watching that happen is so rewarding. It’s the best part of my year.”

Bright Horizons

Working parents seeking a full-day camp option with lots of flexibility will especially love the day camps at Bright Horizons.


School-age kids, 6-12, come back year after year because they make friends, are always on the go and get to do really cool things every day. Camp themes rotate and this summer include Extreme Action Cinematography, Culinary Arts, The Science of Gross Things and Uncharted Territories, plus lots of great field trips.


Camp counselors are carefully chosen to help the kids have a fun, active summer. Camps run all summer long so parents aren’t left in the lurch until school starts.

Engineering for Kids

Got a kid who likes to figure out how things work? Engineering For Kids camps for ages 4-14 are just the ticket. With sites in Lake County, North Cook County, Aurora, Naperville, Olympia Fields and Hammond, Ind., kids get hands-on STEM lessons and fun, engineering-based design/build projects.


“We focus on the life skills of problem solving and critical thinking,” says Keith Poole, Illiana location owner. “We are here to inspire the next generation of engineers.”


Kids explore industrial, chemical, aerospace, marine and civil engineering, robotics, 3-D printing, software engineering and will even bring familiar stories to life in Twisted Fairy Tales.

The Viola Project

Before you think Shakespeare isn’t for kids, think again! The Viola Project uses the Bard’s words to empower girls to explore their world and activate their creative voices. The seven week-long camps—two in Oak Park and five in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood—are created especially for ages 10-16.


This year, girls will learn about social media safety, women in leadership, self defense and more. They’ll also perform scenes from Shakespeare and learn from some amazing Chicago artists.


“Each child gets individual attention that helps them grow,” says Managing Director Catherine Gillespie. “We pride ourselves doing everything to make sure the girls are a success.”

Code Play Learn

Your kids want to be on their computers and you want them outside playing this summer. Fortunately, you can give them the best of both at this year’s Code Play Learn’s full-day sports and coding camps in Chicago.


Perfect for grades 4-8, Code Play Learn has teamed up with Legacy Sports to create a half day of STEM fun that teaches problem solving through coding and a half day of team-based sports that emphasize character building, says owner Wil Greenwald.


The camp challenges kids with and without coding experience. “We want kids to leave with a fundamental understanding of how their technology works,” he says.

Kleine Deutschschule German Language Center

Get the passports ready. The new Kleine Deutschschule German Language Center’s four

summer full-day camps, geared for ages 4-10 and 7-12, will not only teach kids a new language, but expose them to a new culture through hands-on learning, says Julia Klein, owner, director and lead teacher.


“The best way to experience a new language and new culture is through fun,” she says.


Kids will learn about Germany through traditional German games, music, art, inventions and architecture. Just don’t blame Kleine if your kids are singing in German and begging to visit Germany by the time school starts again.

River Forest Community Center

On-the-go fun is the name of the game at River Forest Community Center’s half- and full-day summer camps. Think arts, music, movement, sports, outdoor time, swimming and field trips, says Lia A. Madonia-Garcia, the early childhood director. And you don’t even have to be a resident of River Forest.


“We definitely make it fun for kids and keep them excited and busy,” she says.


Rainy days are never a problem at the camps because River Forest has a full-size air-conditioned gym for the bigger kids and an indoor playground for the younger kids, she says.


“We’re prepared for anything.”

Roycemore School

Gifted and talented students, pre-K to fourth grade, don’t have to mourn the school year ending thanks to the Discovery Unlimited two-week camp at Roycemore School in Evanston. Organizers plan to let the kids get messy and chocolately while they use art, math, science, language arts and social studies.


The regular summer camps, for ages 3-12, promise games, arts and crafts and field trips along with a multipurpose room (karaoke!) that quickly becomes every camper’s favorite spot.


The camps are kept small and especially appeal to working parents with 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. hours where Communications Director Joan Daugherty says the kids are cared for like family.

Master S.H. Yu

Kids 5-12 who enjoy a challenge and like to make friends but aren’t necessarily into team sports will find their happy place at Master S.H. Yu’s week-long Ninja camps in August. Master Wilson, children’s program director, says the camps are a great way to help kids cross train or get ready for the new school year—they help kids set goals and achieve balance in a fun way.


The camps focus on conditioning and flexibility while helping kids learn the beauty and history of martial arts along with culture, customs and etiquette.


Visits to the year-round Oak Park studio are encouraged.

Little Beans Café

If you want a classic summer camp for an active, imaginative kid, Little Beans Café offers one filled with outside play and rotating activities from art to yoga to theater.


Shannon Valko says the camps—the Chicago location has camps for ages 3-5 ½ while Evanston for ages 3-9—offer something new every day and are a great entry-level camp for young kids.


Flexibility rules here; parents can buy a flex pass to pick the camp dates or to fill in holes around other activities. Camps can be booked as little as 48 hours in advance, subject to availability.

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