Summer Camp in Chicago: When, where and how to sign up for summer fun

Written by: Lauren Viera

Chicago summer camps

Believe it or not, now’s the time to start thinking about summer camps. Many have already opened up registration with early-bird discounts, while others don’t offer placement till spring...only to sell out in hours.

To help you navigate your options, we’re hosting our first-ever Summer Camp Fair on February 23 (details below!). Meanwhile, we’ve pooled advice and information from our members and staff to help get you started.

How old does my child have to be to go to camp?
Most camps cater to kids aged kindergarten and up, though there are many camps for preschoolers. The majority market to elementary and middle schoolers, with some reserved for high schoolers and college prep.

What kinds of camps are out there?
If you can imagine it, it probably exists. From sewing to STEM, cooking to circus arts, Chicago really does have it all — and they’re all over town. 

When are they?
Most summer camps start the week after CPS lets out — for 2020, that’s June 22. Several camps around town — including Chicago Park District’s Day Camp — have multiple sessions throughout the summer. Camps are typically offered in week-long sessions, though some offer drop-in days (or even half-days), or a full-summer commitment.

How much are they?
The range is wide. Chicago Park District’s famously affordable Day Camp costs as little as a few dollars per hour, while others charge thousands. We know of a handful of camps that offer sliding-scale tuition, too. On average, though, most weeklong day camps fall in the $500 range.

Summer Camp 2019 parent reviews
NPN members on our forum discuss which camps their kids liked (or didn't). Camps in bold will be at NPN's Summer Camp Fair.

Steve & Kate’s Camp
“I have no idea WTH goes on in there, but she had fun even though she didn’t know anyone.”

RetroActive Sports Camp, Menomonee Club
“Seems very basic and takes place in a gym all day, so I don’t really get it, but the kids are wild for it.”

Dream Big Performing Arts Camp
“Their ‘performances’ are really cute — if a little chaotic.”

Summer at Latin, Latin School of Chicago
“Kids did all 7 weeks and loved it as always.”

East Bank Club Summer Camp
“Daily swimming, tons of gym time and specialty classes like tennis and soccer.”

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Summer Camp
“Between the family open houses and the email communication, I actually felt like I had a good idea what was going on.”

Game On! Sports 4 Girls Camp
“Learned a ton of sports and gained major self-confidence.”

The Laboratory Collective Summer Camps
“AMAZING! I’ve never heard my daughter talk about a camp so much.”

Sew Crafty Studio Summer Camp
“I’m always so impressed how they can learn in such little time."

Read more summer camp parent reviews on our main discussion forum

Join us on Feb. 23 for the NPN Summer Camp Fair at UIC Student Center East! Chat with reps from some of the top camps in the city and sign your child up on the spot. Plus, tons of fun activities for the kids! NPN members register for free. RSVP here.

Related content:

Preparing for your child's first overnight summer camp

How to tell if a summer camp is a good fit for your kid

This summer, let your child be bored


Posted on January 29, 2020 at 1:27 PM