To Camp or Not to Camp? The Current Scoop on Summer Camps

In spite of what we’re facing now with the COVID-19 crisis, as parents we still must look forward, and we know summer is coming. For many of us, summer camps and childcare is a necessity. We are doing our best to monitor any changes, and encourage you to double-check the individual camp refund/cancellation policies. We also want to continue to support our local businesses including these beloved summer camps. 

Summertime has a way of making parents and caregivers feel like camp counselors, with the daily, “What are we doing today?” conundrum.  Some camps began registrations way back in November, which means you’ve had dates locked in for months. With the current situation, there are many questions as to whether summer camping is even an option. We’ve checked in with the camps we’ve covered previously to get the scoop on where they stand with registrations. Read on and plan on, as best you can!

photo: Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

Adler's camps will spark the scientific curiosity in everyone from the itty-bitty youngest campers to all the way up to 10th grade as they learn about the skills of science exploration. With tools like telescopes, programmable robots, and high-altitude balloons—and new friends around every corner—your kids will share adventures of cosmic proportions with their peers. Young space and technology enthusiasts will engage their imaginations, show their creative side and navigate their Universe together just like scientists.

Dates: Camps running Jun. 22-Aug. 7 (partially canceled — see update below)
Hours and Cost: Dependent upon age of child and camp selected, check website as there are too many options to list
Ages: 3 yrs.-9th grade
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, camps scheduled between Jun. 22-Jul. 10 have been canceled. The pause button has been hit for registration on remaining camps while Adler waits to see if these can be held safely. If you've booked a camp that has been canceled, you can request a full refund or donate all or a portion of your fee to Adler. 

In the meantime: Visit Adler's Online Resources page to listen to their YOUniverse Podcast, view their exhibits virtually, contribute to real-life science from your couch via Zooniverse and get ideas for experiments to conduct at home. 

photo: Dana Murphy

Raven Theatre

Raven's Theatre's Take Flight Summer Camp features five training sessions in theatre arts. This camp is great for beginners looking to learn the basics of performance or more advanced actors looking to hone their skills. Raven's team of teaching artists will help kids feel the confidence to contribute to the artistic process and the courage to try something new.

Dates: Camps scheduled Jun. 22-Aug. 21 (see update below)
Hours: Two-week sessions held Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; One-week sessions held Mon.-Fri., noon-4 p.m.
Ages: 6-16
Cost: $300-$600, based on camp type selected
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Edgewater

COVID-19 Update: As of press time, Raven Theatre is still hoping they can host their planned summer camps. In the event they cannot based on health official guidance, they will issue full refunds upon request. They also plan to offer online versions of their camps if in-person camps cannot be held. 

In the meantime: 88 local theatre companies came together to promote a limited edition t-shirt designed by Steppenwolf with 100% of the proceeds going to the Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund. Consider purchasing to support on-going access to theater in our city.

photo: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium is introducing a brand new summer camp offering, Camp Shedd: Summer Splash, where campers enjoy five straight days of aquatic exploration. Kids will dive into various habitats and ecosystems, come eye-to-eye with incredible animals like green-winged macaws or Blanding's turtles and participate in hands-on science activities that uncover some truly remarkable animal behaviors and adaptations.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jul. 6-Aug. 7
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ages: Grades K-5
Cost: $325/non-member; $295/member
Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus

Covid-19 Update: Shedd is currently in a holding pattern waiting for guidance from the city/state and what is best for their campers. Dates are still listed on their website, but spaces are not being sold at this time. 

In the meantime: Keep up-to-date on the daily lives of the aquarium’s animals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; create learning experiences for early learners through their Sea Curious YouTubeseries; check out live views from the Underwater Beauty special exhibit, and dive deep with 360-video views to Keep Sharks Swimming, visit Shedd's penguin exhibit daily using the Virtual Reality Penguin Expedition tool and more.

photo: Morton Arboretum, credit Maria Chambers

Morton Arboretum

Kids get totally immersed in nature as they play the part of plant detective, build a forest fort and wade through wetlands in search of critters that live underwater. The Arboretum's woodlands, ponds and prairie become one big classroom where campers learn about the natural world through science experiments and creative play.

Dates: Jun. 1-Aug. 14
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with after-hours activities available
Cost: $180/week for members ($210 for nonmembers) for half-day sessions and $325/week for members ($380 for nonmembers) for full-day sessions.
Ages: Grades Pre-K-8
4100 IL Rte. 53, Lisle

Covid-19 Update: Morton Arboretum has canceled their in-person June summer camps (full refunds will be issued for those that registered) and is in a holding pattern with their July and August camps, waiting for more direction from government and health officials. To help keep kids busy this summer, they created online science camps for grades 1-6, Jun. 8-Aug. 10.

In the meantime: Stay connected with the Arboretum during this time through online learning opportunities that give self-guided family play ideas and by following Arboretum Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media channels.

photo: Pedalheads

Pedalheads Bike Camp

Want your kids to know the joy of bombing around on a bike all summer? Pedalheads Bike Camps can get your kiddos up and riding in one week! Geared toward kids 3 and up, the camps are held at various locations throughout Chicago and teach your kids all the basics of balance and road rules to make sure they're riding with confidence. 

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 8-Aug.24 (see update below)
Hours: Full- and half-day options available (full-day is typically 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Varies by location and program. 
Ages: 3-12
Locations in Bucktown, Oak Park, Lincoln Park & North Center

Covid-19 Update: Pedalheads is planning to host their summer camps as long as health officials give approvals to do so. If they are required to cancel, they will issue full refunds. If you decide to cancel for precautionary reasons, but camps are still running, cancellation fees have been reduced from $50 to $25 per registration and require a one-week notice vs the typical two-week notice. 

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden

No way kids will suffer from summer break boredom at Chicago Botanic's camp. They'll be one with nature exploring a range of themes including art, cuisine and conservation. Campers will dissect and plant seeds, explore fragrant herbs and flowers, search for birds and early spring plans on hikes, take a trolley ride around the Garden, create take-home, science-themed projects and more! Each day offers a different adventure — register for any or all camps!

Dates: Camps running Jun. 15-Aug. 14 (canceled — see updates below)
Hours and Cost: Dependent upon age of child and camp selected, check website as there are too many options to list
Ages: Grades Pre-K-10
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

Covid-19 Update: Chicago Botanic Garden is closed through Jun. 30 and all camps have been canceled. You can request a full refund, be issued a credit to be used toward future purchases (such as membership) or make a tax-deductible donation using registration fees you've already paid. 

In the meantime: The Chicago Botanic Garden is sharing the power of plants through its website, email communications, and social media channels. Weekly content includes topics around the Garden in bloom, wellness tips, and activities for the whole family. Visit to see their collection of fun ideas.  

photo: Codeverse


Send the kids to Codeverse, the first fully interactive classroom for 1st-8th graders that is riddled with state-of-the-art technology. Your kids will learn to code, build apps, program cutting-edge gadgets and create video games, using a kid-friendly coding language, KidScript.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 1-Sept. 4
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; ask about options for complimentary early drop-off & late pick-up
Cost: $699-$799/week (early bird pricing, $600/week)
Ages: Grades 1-8
Locations in Lincoln Park, Naperville & Wilmette

Covid-19 Update: Codeverse is still hoping to run their camps at the Lincoln Park studio. They also have online options available for $349/child.

In the meantime: You can sign your child up for virtual coding classes. You'll receive a kit right to your door and kids will be guided through coding lessons via an expert guide. 

photo: Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago

Hi-Five Sports Camp

Top priority for this camp that's a dream come true for active kids is fun. It's a total bonus that the programming keeps your child active, healthy, smiling—and perhaps ready for early bedtimes from happy exhaustion—all summer long. Hi-Five Sports Camp Chicago is about so much more than winning or losing, it's about teamwork, playing hard and fair, making new friends and learning the power of camaraderie. The staff is filled with professional coaches, high school and college athletes, as well as experienced P.E. teacher who are ready to guide your kids through a positive, self-esteem-building experience. Camps in the West Loop location offer door-to-door bus service, which is exceptionally helpful for busy parents. 

Dates: West Loop camps running Jun. 22-Aug. 14
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: varies based on number of weeks selected, check website for details
Ages: Grades Pre-K-9
City-based camps hosted at Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St., West Loop, but locations also in Naperville, Vernon Hills, Mount Prospect, Northbrook & St. Charles

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, Hi-Five is still offering their summer camps, but are monitoring the situation closely and will issue updates as needed. 

photo: Galileo

Galileo Innovation Camp

This camp is really the perfect combination of learning and fun with weekly themes like: Deep Ocean Explorers, Makers Workshop, Expedition to Everest and Renaissance Adventure. Galileo presents art, science and outdoor activities on a daily basis. They can provide before and aftercare and have a healthy lunch option if you’re not interested in packing your own each day.

Dates: Jun. 15-Aug. 21 (canceled - see update below)
Cost: Varies based on location
Ages: Grades Pre-K-10
Camps offered in Lincoln Park, West Loop, Wicker Park, Evanston, Glenview, Northbrook, Winnetka, Arlington Heights, LaGrange, Naperville & Oak Park. See their website for date and theme options.

Covid-19 Update: Camps have been canceled for the summer and the refund/credit policy was still up in the air at press time. Please read the updates on their website to gain a full understanding of how to proceed if you've booked this camp. 

photo: Facets


Don’t let the venue fool you, this camp is much more than sitting around watching movies all day. Campers will get an intro into the art of film and work together to make an original short film and gain a foundation in film history and criticism. 

Dates: (Ages 11-14) Jul. 6-10 & Jul. 20-24; (Ages 7-10) Jul. 13-17 & Jul 27-31
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $450
Ages: 7-10 & 11-14
Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Lincoln Park

Covid-19 Update: Camps are still planned at this time. Those who would like to cancel, full refunds are being issued if canceled prior to Jul. 1.

In the meantime: Kids ages 9-14 can sign up for a Virtual Animation Workshop and you can enjoy a screening at home via Facet's Virtual Cinema

photo: The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table

The Kids' Table offers hands-on cooking fun this summer! Guided by chef instructors, kids get to chop, grate and roll their way to different delicious dishes each day. Registration is all week-by-week (full-day or half-day), so kids can join for as many weeks as they'd like. Best of all, these camps will inspire your kiddo to play a more active role in the kitchen (even cleanup!).

Dates: Camps running Jun. 8-Sept. 4
Hours: Part-day, 10 a.m.-noon; full-day hours range depending on option selected
Cost: Ranges $90/week for 2-day class schedule to $400/week for big kids in all-day, week-long camps
Ages: Part-day, ages 4-7; Full-day, ages 4-14 & 7-10
2337 W. North Ave. (Wicker Park) & 2864 N. Lincoln Ave. (Lakeview)

Covid-19 Update: Camps are still planned as of press time, but they are monitoring the situation closely. 

In the meantime: Sign kids ages 2-14 up for Virtual Cooking Classes. 

photo: Game On Sports Camp

Game On Sports Camp for Girls

Where “playing like a girl” is a form of praise, this specialized camp is focused on empowering girls in a positive and spirited environment. This camp is well-known amongst parents as being a confidence booster for daughters and is a great way to introduce new sports in fun and exciting ways. They offer basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and lacrosse, just to name a few.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 22-Aug. 14 (partially canceled — see update below)
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; 9 a.m.-noon option for ages 4-5
Ages: 4-14
Cost: Attending 3–5 weeks, $600/week; Attending 6-7 weeks, $575/week; 50% discount for 9 a.m.-noon option
Locations in Wicker Park, Lakeview, Glencoe & Lake Forest

Covid-19 Update: Camps through the Jul. 4 weekend have been canceled. You can request a full refund if you've booked a camp during the canceled weeks, minus the $100 non-refundable fee that covers upfront costs, or request a credit to be used at a future time. 

photo: Bubbles Academy

Bubbles Academy

The best thing about this arts-integrated preschool format is its flexibility. Over 12 sunny weeks, enroll your kids for the whole summer, a week here and there, or just a day whenever you need it. Bubbles Academy’s educational philosophy of arts-integration combines content and skills taken from arts practices including dance, music, theatre and visual arts, with developmentally appropriate, early childhood learning standards and socio-emotional skills.

Dates: Jun. 1-Aug. 28
Hours: Half day, 8:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. or full day, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Varies by days attended
Ages: 2.5-5
2184 N. Elston, Bucktown

Covid-19 Update: They plan on offering their summer preschool program onsite as soon as they are given the go-ahead and plans have been made for a virtual summer camp option. It will include guided virtual classes, art activities and offline outdoor exploration for every weekday morning, Jun.8-Aug. 28, hosted via Zoom.

In the meantime: Sign up for Virtual Classes at $10/drop-in, $25/5-class pack or $60/unlimited monthly rates. 


photo: The Laboratory

The Laboratory

Imagined by Amy and Dr. Ed, this tag team of super-friendly educators were truly thinking outside the box when they opened The Laboratory. Their goal is to bring books and imaginary worlds to life through science. Your campers will be immersed in magical worlds that follow a storyline that's moved forward by math and science. Themes include everything from Last Zombies on Earth to The Robots are Coming camps: No summer slide here.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 8-Sept. 4
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Week-long camps, $475; day camps, $90
Ages: 7-12
The Laboratory, 2349 W. North Ave., Bucktown

In the meantime: The Laboratory is offering free live classes where they talk about books, show science experiments kids can do at home and show a crazy demo. Follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on offerings and watch pre-recorded lessons on their YouTube channel.

photo: Banner Day Camp

Banner Day Camp

Much like the kind of summer camps you see in the movies, Banner has it all. There’s a 3 to 1 camper to counselor ratio, which gives your little ones access to extra special attention while participating in all the activities they could ever ask for. Banner offers swimming, yoga, a climbing wall, arts, fishing, archery, dune buggies. . . you name it, they have it. While Banner Day Camp is in Lake Forest, they do offer supervised round trip bus service for city dwellers.

Dates: 8-Week Session, Jun. 15-Aug. 7; Session 1, Jun. 15-Jul. 10; Session 2, Jul. 13-Aug. 7
Hours: Varies
Cost: Varies by age, number of days attending & length of session, check website.
Ages: PreK-9th Grade
Banner, 1225 Riverwoods Rd., Lake Forest

Covid-19 Update: Banner is in a holding pattern waiting for guidelines from the CDC. Dates will most likely need to shift, but they are holding out a decision to see what is safest for campers. They are taking reservations on a waitlist basis and will be communicating refund policy when decisions are made.

photo: Steve and Kate

Steve and Kate Camp

Perfect for the camper that needs a flexible schedule (pick a day, a week or a month) AND has a wide range of interests. S&K really lets kids just be kids. Your camper can sing, bake, sew, make a movie, dance or even code their own computer game in one of the several studios scattered throughout. Want to get outside? Jump in on a constant game of hockey, basketball or soccer likely happening all day long. Need some fuel? They have an in-house chef making globally-inspired street foods. Sounds amazing — can parents sign up?

Dates: Camps scheduled Jun. 8-Aug. 21
Hours: Pick up and drop off anytime between 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Varies by location; day passes and memberships available; check website for details
Ages: 4-12
Locations in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, West Loop & River Forest

Covid-19 Update: As of right now, Steve & Kate Camp is hoping to operate as normal. They will keep monitoring the situation and make decisions as more information is available. If they need to cancel, you can rollover payments already made to attend camp in 2021, or you can issue a refund to be issued in September for unused passes.

photo: Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is hosting summer camps at various Chicagoland locations, making their camps convenient no matter where you live. These camps offer mini soccer fans the opportunity to learn from professional and experienced staff, regardless of their soccer ability. 

Dates: Week-long camps Jun. 1-Aug. 21
Hours: Check website for details
Cost: Varies by program and location
Ages: 3-14
Various Chicagoland locations, check website for details.

Covid-19 Update: Chicago Fire is waiting for further guidance to make a decision on camps. For now, they are planning on having campers throughout the summer. However, for the safety of campers, their families, and staff, Chicago Fire will not be providing shirts or paper evaluations on camp. Companion tickets will also not be offered.

Old Town School of Folk Music

Hosted at their Lincoln Park campus, the Old Town School of Folk Music’s mission is to create a summer experience where campers develop new skills, build friendships and have the freedom to explore their creativity. They’ll spend their days thinking independently, collaborating with their peers and discovering their own place in the arts. Camp themes are Arts, Fiddle, Dance and Musical Theater.

Dates: Week-long camps scheduled Jun. 22-Jul. 31
Hours: 9 a.m.-noon for ages 4-6; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for ages 7-15
Ages: 4-15
Cost: Varies depending on age & class
4545 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, registrations were still underway.

In the meantime: Many of their classes are now offered online, so you don't need to miss a beat with your kid's musical education.

Instituto Cervantes of Chicago

Daily lesson plans are created for campers to achieve linguistic, cultural and educational goals. Children will have the unique opportunity to learn Spanish in a playful and enriching environment through total immersion of language while highlighting each student’s creativity and capacity to learn with projects, songs and activities.

Dates: Week-long camps offered all summer
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ages: 4-16
Cost: Varies by number of classes attended
Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio, Near North Side

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, registrations were still underway.

photo: Naper Settlement

Camp Naper

Located at Naper Settlement, a 12-acre living history museum in Naperville, Camp Naper offers kids the opportunity to explore, create and imagine. Each week offers a different theme and adventure to embark on.

Dates: Camps running Jun. 4-Jul. 30
Hours: 8 p.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $45/day; $100-$210/week-long camps
Ages: Grades 1-8
523 S. Webster St., Naperville

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, registrations were still underway.

Iron Oaks

Mother Nature will be your kid's new BFF after a week of these outdoorsy camps. Each weeklong camp brings a new themed adventure, and activities include art projects, science discoveries, nature play, hikes and more. Even if you don't live near Irons Oaks, an environmental learning center in southwest suburban Olympia Fields, these are worth the road trip. The 40-acre nature preserve has trails through beautiful woods where you can spot wildflowers, birds and lots of furry friends. 

Dates: Jun. 10-Aug. 9
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ages: 5-12
Cost: $145/week resident; $180/week non-resident
20000 Western Ave., Olympia Fields
Online: (as of press time, their website was experiencing difficulties, so connect with them on Facebook)

Covid-19 Update: As of press time, no decision had been made on camps.

In the meantime: Stay connected with Iron Oaks on their Facebook page where they update often with fun at-home projects. 

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