If you are a parent, this scenario is likely acutely familiar to you: arriving at your nearest Chicago Park District Fieldhouse before sunrise to wait in line to register your children for summer camp. For the parents who are able to snap up one of these spaces, it can feel like hitting Powerball on a Saturday night. But if you were too busy sleeping or are just weary of the same ol’ Park District grind, there are plenty of other programs in the city that are perfect for restless and hard-to-please kids. Here are five of our favorites:
Photo Courtesy of Girls Rock! Chicago
Girls Rock! Chicago
We admit to being envious that this camp wasn’t around when we were young. Girls Rock! Chicago is a Rock-n-Roll camp for girls 8-16 years old. It is a non-profit that allows girls to tap into their budding rock goddesses while fostering creative expression through music education. What we love most about Girls Rock! Chicago is the opportunity for girls to build a positive self-image, which, because of many factors, begins to take a hit as early as the preteen years. There are two sessions, both culminating in a showcase and recording session. Girls Rock! Chicago, 2623 West Armitage Avenue, 773-289-2670, girlsrockchicago.org.
Photo Courtesy of The Chopping Block
The Chopping Block Kids and Teens Summer Cooking Camp
There are few things more satisfying to a parent than watching their kids earn their keep. Kids and teens with culinary talent can hone their skills at The Chopping Block Summer Cooking Camp. Already well-known for their fun adult classes, The Chopping Block also offers classes for kids of all ages. Sous-chefs-in-training who are 7-11 years old can learn basic kitchen skills, such as measuring, mixing, and how to be safe in the kitchen. Teens are able to dive a little deeper, learning to prepare simple recipes while being introduced to knife skills, baking techniques, and organizing their work space. Summer Cooking Camp classes are held at the Lincoln Square location only. The Chopping Block, 4747 North Lincoln Avenue, 773-472-6700, thechoppingblock.com.
Photo Courtesy of Windy City Fieldhouse
Windy City Sports Academy
For kids who are sports-minded, Windy City Sports Academy boasts several athletic camps for children ages 3-13. Housed inside the massive Windy City Fieldhouse complex, the Sports Academy offers a summer-long camp that features a variety of sports, as well single-sport programs, such as basketball, soccer, and a Tiny Tots camp for very young athletes. What we love is the focus on teamwork and sportsmanship, allowing kids to learn skills in a fun and supportive environment. Start dates vary according to program. Windy City Fieldhouse, 2367 West Logan Boulevard, 773-486-7423, windycityfieldhouse.com.
Photo Courtesy of Lookingglass Theatre
Summerglass Theatre Camp
Young thespians who are already dreaming of seeing their name in lights might want to check out Summerglass Camp at Lookingglass Theatre. Divided into morning and afternoon activities, Summerglass features classes in shadow puppetry, tumbling, and circus skills. Future actors also will learn how to use their body, mind, and voice to dramatize characters for the stage. Each of the five sessions ends in a performance of an original Lookingglass play. Check the website for session dates, which vary. Lookingglass Theatre, 821 North Michigan Avenue, 312-337-0665, lookingglasstheatre.org.
Photo Courtesy of Chicago Children's Theater
The Red Kite Project
Operating as a branch of the Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Red Kite project offers educational and theatrical programs specifically tailored to children with special needs, especially kids on the autism spectrum. Camp Red Kite is a half-day camp for autistic children, and Red Kite Adventures offers activities that are based on theatrical play and performance. Chicago Children’s Theatre, 1464 North Milwaukee Avenue, Second Floor, 773-227-0180, chicagochildrenstheatre.org.