Happy Campers — Summer camps that fit your needs

April 2013 View more

N2013_04_01_045SMALLSummer camps have come a long way from the legendary Camp Grenada, the name of a lighthearted song in the ‘60s that poked fun at a camper who pleaded with his parents to come home.

In 2013, the only bargaining parents are likely to hear is from seasoned campers wanting to lengthen their stay at camp, try a new camp, or add another camp to the list. Here’s a sample of some area camps that are sure to make the summer memorable.

N2013_04_01_047SMALLNaperville Park District Camps

The Naperville Park District offers a wide range of camps for 2 year-olds  to 18 year-olds. Brad Wilson, director of recreation for the Park District, says their camps stand out from the rest. “We really look at the whole experience in the camp. They are packed full of activities so the kids remain busy throughout the summer.” In addition, Wilson says Park District camps are conveniently located for families in all areas of the city. Sports enthusiasts can sign up for football, volleyball, soccer, golf, swimming, ultimate Frisbee, track and field, softball, rock climbing, skateboarding, lacrosse, gymnastics, horsemanship, dodge ball, fencing, cricket, cheerleading, baseball and bowling.

Willing Hands Volunteer Camp offers middle school students an opportunity to help with service projects at community organizations. This camp is at the end of June and costs residents $64. If cooking is your child’s passion, Culinary Camp might be the icing on her cake. These classes, for early childhood to teens, are held in a teaching kitchen and cost $104 per week, including recipes and ingredients, for two hours each day. You can find a complete list of Naperville Park District summer camps at www.napervilleparks.org.

Performing Arts and Academic Camps N2013_04_01_048SMALL

If performing arts and academics are more to your liking, sashay over to North Central College. This summer, North Central’s Fine Arts Department will present “Peter Pan” to the community. Auditions for the children’s production will be held April 30 and May 2 at North Central’s Heininger Auditorium. The fee to participate in the workshop and play is $150. The production will be July 26, 27, and 28. Whether your child loves school or needs a little extra help, Write on Camp may be the perfect fit for kids in first through fourth grade. This camp costs $250 and runs from June 3 through June 14, and July 29 through August 9. An early bird discount of 10 percent is available if you register before May 6. Natalie Vivacqua, NCC’s director of summer camps, says a relatively new camp called Girls in Math is tailored for girls between the ages of 11 and 14. It is taught from the perspective that girls learn math skills differently than boys. The fee for Girls in Math is $250. Students planning on competing in the American Math Competition will be better prepared by taking a class designed just for that purpose. It begins June 10 and is $200. Learn more about summer camps at North Central College at www.northcentralcollege.edu.

YMCA Camps

YMCA camps run the gamut from all-day child care, to cooking classes and community service. Zoofari Camp is chock-full of fun activities for preschoolers. Little campers remain on site at the Fry YMCA on 95th Street. Kindergarten Camp is offered for a short or longer week. These five and six-year-old children go on one field trip, such as the Morton Arboretum, every week. Safe and Sound is open to students in School District 203 and 204. It is described as a class to learn “about all the responsibilities of being a good babysitter and what to expect from the family who hires you.” Instruction is given in safety, safe play, first aid, leadership and basic care. Camp Edge is designed for middle school students. They learn about social responsibility by helping out at nonprofit organizations three days a week. Judy Ellertson, director at Fry YMCA, says the YMCA counselors are college graduates who have completed skill and safety training. Information about YMCA camps can be found by calling 630.904.9595, or visiting www.ymcachicago.org.

Special Needs Camps

Many campers and counselors return to the same camp every year. That’s exactly what Katie Selander, a 26-year-old Naperville resident has done at Camp One Step at a Time in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This summer will be the child life specialist’s seventh year as a counselor there. “There are a lot of things I love about it. When a kid comes up to you and says ‘thanks for doing this for me’. They are so appreciative. They are so excited for the little things,” said Selander. Campers are treated to swimming in Lake Geneva, fishing, hiking, field trips, arts and crafts, and a designated boat day. On that day, boat owners volunteer to take campers out on the lake for the day. “Sometimes we have kids who have prosthetic legs or diminished eyesight. We make sure all the kids, even the ones with disabilities, can do everything that’s offered.” What separates this camp from the others is that Camp One Step is a camp for children and teens that have cancer. The time they spend at Camp One Step allows them to blend in with their peers, rather than stand out. “They don’t let cancer define them in any way,” said Selander. For more information, or to volunteer at Camp One Step, visit www.onestepcamp.org, or call 312.924.4220.

Living History Camps

Naper Settlement offers an extreme camp experience that fits its surroundings. Civil War Encampment is aimed at students who want to learn more about what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War. It’s a mixture of education and fun, and includes one overnight stay. Parents have the option of joining their children for the sleep over. Details and registration are available at www.napersettlement.org. or by calling 630.420.6010.

Since camps fill up quickly, you’re advised to register early to reserve your spot to your favorite camp. If your memories of camp are more in tune with the fictitious Camp Grenada, give these camps and others a closer look.