Away Camp Isn’t the Answer? Stay Home and Camp This Summer

Let’s face it: Not all kids are meant to go away for camp. Whether it’s not their speed or not in your budget, away camp isn’t the only answer to summer fun.

Make it Better found some interesting summer camps on the North Shore that fit the bill for your family.


Northwestern University

Run by some of the top coaches in the country, sports camps at Northwestern University provide a fun and exciting learning experience for kids. Most camps are full day and begin in June.


Chicago Botanic Garden Summer Camp

The Garden offers weeklong camps with morning, afternoon and all day options from June to August. There are programs for children ages 2 to 15. Classes range from Forensic Investigators where campers use investigative techniques like the pros to solve this summer’s case, to Cuisine, a week-long cooking camp that teaches basic chopping skills, menu techniques, preparation and cooking principals.


The Art Center of Highland Park (TAC)

TAC offers campers the chance to be creative. Through a wide range of mixed media activities kids can explore, imagine and create through art. Some standout offerings include: the Creative Arts Camp (ages 7-8 and 9-13) where kids will create projects through drawing, painting, collage, mixed media and crafts; and the Teen Art Intensive (ages 14-17) where teens will learn art fundamentals in a workshop format and will be introduced to drawing and painting using a variety of methods.


Banner Day Camp

For 46 years, Banner Day Camp has been a staple on the North Shore. There are five exciting programs for kids ages 3 through freshmen in high school.

Campers are divided by age group, and each of the five camps is tailored to meet the age appropriate needs of each child. Tween Camp (4th – 6th graders) is high energy and overflowing with choices and “meets your older camper’s need for independence and variety.” Kids can fill their days with rock climbing, art, sports, musical theatre, trapeze and so much more. Campers can also join the Banner Sports League where they can enjoy competitive game play.

Game On! Sports Camp for Girls

Game On! is a sports camp devoted to girls, sports and fun. Located at Lake Forest College Campus, they have a full compliment of sports for girls grades pre-K to 8th. Because girls are grouped by grade, the camp specializes in tailoring each activity with age-apporpriate expectations for performance and safety.

Activities include soccer, tennis basketball, softball, volleyball, lacrosse, field hockey and swimming to name only a few. Optional hot lunches are provided daily.

New Vision Athletics (NVA) Summer Sports Experience

Since 1999, NVA has offered its Summer Sports Experience Camp. Every day, the NVA coaching staff presents new sports from baseball, soccer, football, floor hockey, water polo, racquetball and everything in between. You can create your own six-week summer experience.

Panther Camp

Panther Camp has a variety of options for campers aged 3 – 12. There is an eight-week option and two four-week options. Offerings include swimming, tennis and ice skating. Thursdays are field trip days when campers may go miniature golfing, bowling or to a Major League baseball game. A special highlight of Panther Camp is Odyssey of the Mind, a nationally known program sponsored by IBM “and developed to improve the problem-solving skills of participants.”

Academy at Citadel Theatre (A.C.T.) Summer Performance Camp

This year A.C.T.’s summer performance camp will be doing Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland Jr.”  Join Alice’s madcap adventures in Wonderland as she chases the White Rabbit, races the Dodo Bird, gets tied up with the Tweedles, raps with a bubble-blowing Caterpillar, and beats the Queen of Hearts at her own game! June 14 – July 10
Ages 8 – 18

The summer camp will develop young artists in all aspects of the theater, from improvisation, music, movement, design, and of course the final production itself.


Apachi Day Camp of JCC Chicago

With locations in Northbrook, Lake Zurich and Chicago, JCC Day Camps and Apachi Day Camps have been in the business of providing magical summers for kids for 85 years, with an emphasis on developing independence, character and confidence.

The program offers a preschool camp, Apachi Village with a 1-to-4 ratio of counselors to campers, allowing kids as young as 3 to experience excitement of “big kid camp.” “Big Apachi,” for kids 4 years through teens, encourages campers to try new things including sports, arts, Mad Science, adventure challenges, climbing walls and nature exploration while instilling human values and creating lifelong memories.


North Shore Country Day School Summer Programs

From archery and swimming to hiking and canoeing, options abound at North Shore Country Day School. The summer programs include options for kids from age 3-14. Expedition programs for tweens include hiking, boating and rock climbing.


Many schools, including New Trier, Highland Park and Lake Forest High Schools each have sports camp opportunities for middle school children. At press time, the schedules were not available–please check the school’s websites or call mid-March for more information!

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