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5 Best Illinois Summer Camps In 2022

Illinois is known for its bustling city of Chicago, deep-dish pizza, and iconic architecture. But fewer know about the natural beauty of the state. The state is home to the Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park, and Ferne Clyffe State Park. There’s something for everyone in here. Whether you want to visit epic museums, presidential libraries, or explore trails and caves in the numerous state parks, Illinois won’t disappoint! 

With its diverse landscapes and beautiful scenery, Illinois is a great place for summer camp. There are a variety of Illinois summer camps, with each offering unique experiences for campers. 

Illinois summer camps

Top 5 Illinois Summer Camps

Camp Shaw

Located just an hour outside of Chicago, IL, Camp Shaw is named after Potawatomi Chief Shaw-Waw-Nas-See and is situated in the exact location as one of the tribe’s oldest villages. After opening its doors in 1946, Camp Shaw has consistently attracted numerous campers from all over the country. The camp sprawls across 110 beautiful acres of forest and fields with plenty of access to Rock Creek. 

Camp Shaw offers an amazing camp experience, from outdoor education to overnight camping. Campers have plenty of activities to choose from, including archery, music, theatre, sports, ziplining, swimming, and creek exploration. 

Boys and girls ages 7-10 can attend Try Camp for three days and two nights. Older campers 7-15 can attend Youth Camp for five days and four nights or Extreme Camp for seven days and six nights. They also offer a Counselor in Training program where teenagers learn leadership skills, self-discovery, and team building. This is an excellent program for teens who love summer camp and dream of becoming a camp counselor one day. 

Camp Red Leaf

Camp Red Leaf is located in Lake County, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan. The camp focuses on supporting youth and adults with special needs. Situated on over 200 acres of land, campers have access to beautiful walking trails through the forest, fire pits, volleyball sand courts, private lake access, treehouse adventures, and a rock climbing wall! 

The youth and adult summer camps are open from June through August. Kids ages 9 to 17 can register and have the options of attending day camps Monday through Friday or overnight camps from Sunday to Friday. Youth campers can also participate in weekend retreats. Red Leaf provides one on one care for your child so that they can build a strong connection with their camp counselor. 

Activities at Camp Red Leaf help campers develop self-esteem, independence, and other new skill sets. Campers have the opportunity to create life-long friendships with other campers while they get the true Illinois experience with its beautiful landscapes.

Decoma Day Camp

Founded over 70 years ago in 1949, Decoma Day Camp is located in Northbrook, Illinois, near the Potawatomi Woods. At Decoma, children have tons of outdoor activities to choose from, involving things like swimming, team sports like basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, rock climbing, martial arts, and much more.

Decoma’s flexible programming makes it easy for you to find the perfect program for your child. The summer camp programs are 4 to 8 weeks long. Part of what makes this day camp so special is its high standards for camp counselors. All counselors are either school teachers or college students in related fields. You can feel confident knowing you’re dropping your child off in good hands.

With flexible scheduling, passionate counselors, and a vast range of activities for campers to choose from, this Illinois summer camp is the perfect place for children to have fun outdoor adventures. 

Camp Discovery

Camp Discovery has been providing memorable camp experiences for boys and girls since 1984. Located in the Vernon Hills area near Lincolnshire, this day camp offers team sports, swimming, arts and crafts, ropes courses, a climbing wall, and biking. 

Programs are offered for kids ages 4-14. Children four years of age can participate in the Pioneers program and choose between full or half-day camps. Older campers can join programs that provide five days of adventures and new activities for them such as archery, biking, miniature golf, and gymnastics. 

The Future Leaders program is for seventh through ninth grade campers to build leadership skills, participate in service, and connect with their peers. In this summer program, campers take field trips to go kayaking, attend a baseball game, or spend a day at the beach. Specialty camps are also available for kids who want to focus on performing arts or explore nature via sailing, ropes courses, outdoor cooking and camping

YMCA Camp Benson

YMCA Camp Benson has been providing exciting summer adventures to its campers for 90 summers. The camp offers opportunities for character development and personal growth in a beautiful natural setting. Children who attend Camp Benson can unplug from technology and spend time playing team sports, exploring nature, and developing essential life skills. Campers can explore trails and creeks, learn to make arts and crafts, swim, dance, and sing together. 

Campers in 1st through 3rd grade can attend the overnight camp that lasts four days. The Adventure and Mega programs are offered to 3rd through 8th-grade children for a week-long overnight experience. Mini camp is offered to campers in 1st through 8th grade and does not include overnight camping. There is a week-long camp for teenagers in 7th through 12th grade.