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9 Best Summer Camps In Illinois 2024

Illinois summer camps

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. 

1. 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 youth 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 fun activities to choose from, including archery, music, theatre, sports, ziplining, swimming, and creek exploration. 

Boys and girls ages 7-10 can attend their sleepaway camp for three days and two nights. Older students 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. 

2. Swift Nature Camp

Are you looking for a summer camp that can give your child an unforgettable experience, new friends, along with self confidence? Look no further than Swift Nature Camp! This overnight summer camp for boys & girls 6-17 provides the perfect blend of safety, fun, and personal growth that can set your child up for future success.

At Swift Nature Camp, your child can step out of their comfort zone and try new things. With endless activities to choose from, they’ll have the chance to discover new passions: swimming, archery, Lego, pickle ball, arts & crafts or even catching frogs.

One of the greatest benefits of Swift Nature Camp is the opportunity for kids to fall in love with nature. At their camp, they prioritize spending time in nature and helping kids develop a connection with the natural world. The Nature Center and Zoo are especially a favorite to those campers who love critters. 

So if you want your child to have an amazing summer filled with personal growth and a love for nature, choose Swift Nature Camp. The dedicated staff and camp directors (with over 25 years experience) make SNC an excellent choice. 

3. Marriott Theatre College Audition Intensive

The Marriott Theatre is hosting a College Audition Intensive from September 7th to 14th at the Marriott Theatre Rehearsal Warehouse.

This is a college audition prep intensive for high school students in their junior and senior years. The instruction staff is composed of professors from top colleges, as well as directors, choreographers and actors from the Marriott stage. It’s a crash course on the college audition process and serves as a guide for young students looking to get into the college of their choice.

Perfect for those looking to major in Musical Theatre or Acting, students will receive training on voice, acting, and dance, in addition to mock auditions, college faculty panels, and individualized information on applying to college in the arts. Students will leave the intensive with new headshots, coached and perfected songs, monologues and dance combinations, as well as high quality prescreen videos completed!

4. Camp Red Leaf

Camp Red Leaf is located in Lake County, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan. The summer 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! It’s only around an hour away from Chicago, Illinois. 

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. Younger kids 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. Participants have the opportunity to create life-long friendships with other peers while they get the true Illinois experience with its beautiful landscapes.

5. Decoma Day Camp

Founded over 70 years ago in 1949, Decoma Day Camp is located in Northbrook, IL, 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 exciting activities for campers to choose from, this summer camp is the perfect place for children to have fun outdoor adventures. 

6. 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. 

Summer camps 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 summer programs that provide five days of adventures and new activities for them such as archery, biking, miniature golf, and gymnastics. 

The Future Leaders option is for seventh through ninth grade students to build leadership skills, participate in service, and connect with their peers. In this summer program, students 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

7. Gurnee Park District Camp

The Gurnee Park District Camp is located in Gurnee, Illinois, in two different recreational park locations and an aquatic center. This district organization operates with a board and continually crafts long-term goals for the property.

There is a selection of camps for preschool through high school-age children, and each camp varies in camp session length, from 1 to 3 weeks. The day camp runs from 9 am to 3:30 pm, with additional early and late afternoon care. But there are also half-day S options.

No matter what your children are interested in, the summer program has a lot to get them started. You can select from various focuses, including swimming lessons, sports camps, and adventures. In addition, students engage in art projects, learn how to work with other children, and become more confident in their abilities.

The Gurnee Park District Camp enriches students’ summers with engaging camp activities that help preserve nature for the community’s future.

8. YMCA Camp Benson

YMCA Camp Benson has been providing exciting summer adventures to its campers for 90 summers in Carroll County. 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. Children can explore trails and creeks, learn to make arts and crafts, go horseback riding, swim, dance, and sing together. 

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

Children won’t forget their time at this YMCA camp as they make new friends, learn new skills, enjoy fun camp activities, gain an outdoor education and much more. 

9. Eurotech Soccer World

Eurotech Soccer World is located in Lake Forest, Illinois, at the Lake Forest College. The campus gives summer campers access to the best fields and sports equipment in the area.

The soccer camps are created for children ages 9-16, with day and overnight summer camps. You can select the session your child needs to boost their soccer skills with 4, 6, or 12 days of summer camp.

They help children level up their game by focusing on their strengths, improving their weaknesses, and engaging their team drive. Kids have multiple games during their time here, access to an indoor swimming pool, and learn how to work together as a team to become champions. Young athletes can expect practices, specialized training sessions, and scrimmages under the watchful eye of experienced coaches.

The mission of this camp is to help soccer players become the best players they can be while also teaching them how to operate as strong teammates.