7 Best Chicago Summer Camps For Kids 2023

Summertime in the Chicago area is one of the most glorious seasons of the year. After a typical harsh winter and often damp spring, the city changes and transforms during the summer.

Many of the summer camps in and around Chicago, Illinois are held around the luxurious park district around Lake Michigan. The city offers many different types of camps and covers a variety of subjects including your traditional overnight options as well as STEM-based educational camps. 

With so many options to choose from, we decided to make this easier for you and show you seven of the best summer camps in The Windy City.

chicago summer camps

Top 7 Chicago Summer Camps

1. Chicago Park District Day Camp

Chicago Park District Day Camps offer a vast range of activities across all age groups. The Chicago Park District stretches over multiple locations on the shores of Lake Michigan, encompassing spots like Millenium Park, Grant Park, and Lincoln Park.

Camps and activities are available for all ages. For non-adults, the camp categories are divided into early childhood, teenagers, young adult, and youth. Chicago Park District Day Camps cover a range of outdoor activites and indoor ones, utilizing the huge open parks, water bodies, and other facilities such as ice-skating rinks and a rock climbing area. Some of the activities include things like sailing, swimming, crafts, theater, and gymnastics.

Besides the regularly scheduled activities, the Chicago Park District holds three camps types: general interest, special interest, and sports camps. Due to the vast area covered, many of these camps can be accessed in specific neighborhoods. There are also special outdoor and environment-related programs such as education and gardening.

2. YMCA of Metro Chicago Summer Camps

YMCA of Metro Chicago, located close to downtown, offers a variety of housing, educational, and other learning programs for children and youth.

The main location for activities is at The Crown Family YMCA Center, on the near-west side of downtown, a few blocks away from the Loop district. There are also other residence camps spread across Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The young campers that attend day or overnight camps are separated into infant, pre-school, and school-age children.YMCA of Metro Chicago camps cover a wide range of programs, including Health and Wellness, which includes sports, gymnastics, and swimming. Art and Culture include music, dance, and theater.

YMCA of Metro Chicago runs day and overnight camps in the summer and winter. There are family camps, as well as retreats and conference facilities. Every summer camp is run in line with the general mission of the YMCA, supporting community programs, education, and care for the youth.

3. JCC Chicago Day Camp

JCC Chicago Day Camp is hosted by JCC, a prominent Jewish organization that teaches youngsters values pertaining to the Jewish ways of life

Headquartered at Northbrook, the JCC offers Apachi Day Camps at 11 locations in the Chicagoland area. They are both within the city and in other suburbs like Evanston, Northbrook, and Lake Zurich.

JCC Chicago’s Apachi Day Camps typically run from 9-9:30 AM to 3-3:30 PM. The attendees include young children, but there are camps for families, teens, and adults. They also operate overnight camps at three locations. Some of the activities include sports and fitness, immersive education, Shabbat Programs, and the arts.

4. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Camp 

The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana offer both day and overnight camps in the Midwest. Girl Scouts GCNWI camps are located at four outdoor locations, two in Illinois, one in Indiana, and one in Wisconsin.

The day camps are for girls of all ages, from kindergarten through high school seniors. They are divided into separate grades and participate in activities according to their age. Day camps typically last from 9 AM to 3 PM.

There are also overnight camps and virtual camps in which girls can register on their own, with their troops or family. Girl Scout campers participate in activities customized for the various age groups. The activities align with what the girl scout programs typically teach – from cultural awareness to outdoor adventures and community events such as celebrating world religious/cultural events.

Girl scouts have a time-honored tradition, and the summer camps run by Girl Scouts GCNWI uphold the same standard. It's the perfect place for young girls to build up leadership skills. 

5. Digital Adventures Camp

Digital Adventures Camp offers STEM camps to improve a child’s technological development. There are three physical studio locations – Lincoln Park, Willamette, and Oak Park. 

Apart from summer camps, they offer interactive online classes after school hours Monday through Friday and several time slots during Saturdays. It’s a great program for kids and teens ages 5 to 18.

Digital Adventures classes cover a variety of approaches to teaching kids how to code in programming languages like Scratch, Lua, HTML/CSS, and JavaScript with their advanced and interactive programs. Some programs focus on building a broad base of skills, while other classes focus in-depth on a single skill. They offer students a chance to develop their capability over nine different levels till they’re considered experts.

Some of their programs involve Minecraft, 3D printing, movie making and much more. Digital Adventures teaching goes beyond basic STEM, coding, or robotics training. They also help children with social and emotional skills.

6. Adler Planetarium Kids Summer Camps 

Adler Planetarium Kids STEM camps are a brilliant way to teach kids about science, astronomy, and space exploration.

It’s located at the gorgeous Museum Campus, which includes the Chicago Field History Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. The lake and downtown views are spectacular around the building.

Adler Planetarium typically offers learning and immersive camp experiences on their premises for young students from pre k through 9th grade. 

In their science labs kids can play and learn to use programmable robots, telescopes, and high-altitude balloons. Some of their popular programs separated by grades include Astro-botics Camp, Skyshow Camp, and Mission Near Space Camp.

Adler’s summer camps are not only about fun activities. The educational learning experience makes a significant impact on their lives and possible career choices. 

7. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Camp

The Nature Museum Camp is one of the best camps for children in the city. The in person summer camps are held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, in the heart of the Lincoln Park greenery, adjacent to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s a great place for nature lovers who want to find a spot within the city to enjoy flora and fauna.

The Nature Museum camp is suitable for kids ages 5 to 8 years old. They are usually split into two groups – 5-6 year olds and 7-8 year olds. Their activities teach the young students how to live in harmony with nature and become more aware of the earth’s habitats and ecosystems.  

The theme events that occur keep up with the finest traditions of learning about nature. There are multiple options for camps in Chicago, Il but you will be hard-pressed to find a better selection for kids when it comes to learning about the environment than this one.