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The 10 Best Camps in Illinois Today

Girls canoeing on lake

The 10 Best Camps in Illinois Today

Summer may seem distant, but it is approaching faster than you think. Additionally, the deadlines to secure a spot for your child at a summer camp are rapidly approaching as well. If you are considering sending your child to a summer camp in the great state of Illinois, we have picked out the ten best camps in the state today.

Our selection criteria are based on online ratings, program quality and variety, staff training, and facilities. Whether you are looking for an experience that promotes independence and self-confidence or a program that focuses on a particular activity or interest, you are sure to find the perfect summer camp for your child in Illinois.

Camp Akita

Camp Akita is a summer camp offered by the Seventh-Day Adventist church. Their camps are open to Juniors, Tweens, and Teens. Furthermore, Camp Akita offers a Teen Specialty Camp with unique activities like horseback riding, wilderness survival, and theater. The camp also includes fun activities like bible study, music, and geocaching. Additionally, there is a nature center where children can make nature crafts, learn about animals, and participate in other hands-on activities.

Registration for the summer camp begins in March and the dates of the camp range from June 16 to July 7. The cost of the camp is $315, but there are discounts available. Moreover, if your child brings five new friends to camp, their camp fee is waived.

Camp CBG

Camp RBG, run by the Chicago Botanical Garden, provides a range of camp options for kids. They offer morning and afternoon camps, as well as full-day camps. Moreover, Camp CBG offers the flexibility to choose a week or the entire summer. Additionally, parents have the option to select before and after camp care, allowing their children to enjoy snacks and games until the time of pick-up.

During the camps, kids can engage in nature play, hands-on activities, and experiential learning experiences. They also get to take something from the Garden home. CBG's teachers explore the connections between nature, science, math, cooking, and more. It is important to review the camp's guidelines for campers and parents on the website before registering.

Camp Dean

Camp Dean is a Girl Scout camp situated on 160 acres of woodlands that offers both day and overnight camping experiences. The camp is located West of Aurora and is surrounded by Welch Creek and a pond that is great for fishing and other water activities. Overnight campers sleep in one-room cabins that accommodate eight bunk beds in each cabin. While there is no electricity in the cabins, there are lights.

Camp Dean Day Camp caters to girls aged 5 to 11 years or grades 1st to 5th, while Camp Dean Overnight Camp is for ages 7 to 14 years or grades 2nd to 8th. The Overnight Camp costs between $310 to $600, while the Day Camp costs approximately $210.

Camp Kupugani 

Camp Kupugani is a multicultural summer camp located near Chicago. It offers two-week sessions for girls only and co-ed camps that last from two to four weeks. The camp welcomes children of all nationalities and races and takes pride in its diversity. The staff organizes various activities, including swimming, boating, and hiking, to keep the kids entertained. There are also group and individual activities, such as sand and mud volleyball, basketball, and more.

The prices for the camp range from $2,587 to $6,892, but they offer scholarships and discounts for eligible families. You can find detailed information about the financial assistance and guidelines on the camp website. Additionally, first-time attendees can enjoy a discount.

Group of multicultural kids on a sports equipment or playground
Camp Kupugani is a summer camp that celebrates diversity and culture, located near Chicago.

Camp Shaw

For seventy-five years, Camp Shaw has been running its summer camp program in Manteno on 110 acres of land that once housed one of the oldest Potawatomi villages. The camp offers many summer camp programs. These camps include a youth camp and an extreme camp for campers aged seven to seventeen. Furthermore, there is a weeklong tent camp for the same age group.

Activities include ziplining, archery, music, photography, and outdoor cooking. Furthermore, they follow standards approved by the American Camp Association, ensuring the safety of each child. Each summer camp has specific guidelines and costs listed on their website.

Discovery Day Camp

Discovery Day Camp is a camp located in Indian Creek, Illinois. Discovery offers four or eight-week programs for children based on their age groups. The Pioneers Camp is for pre-kindergarten to four-year-olds, while the Junior Camp is designed for children from Kindergarten to second grade. Third to sixth-grade students can attend the Senior Camp. Finally, the Future Leaders Camp is for kids in the seventh and eighth grades.

Apart from these programs, Discovery Day Camp also offers specialty programs that focus on theatre and outdoor skills. The cost of a four-week session starts from $1,635, while the cost of an eight-week session goes up to $5,280. Additional fees include transportation and extended day options. However, if multiple siblings enroll in the camp programs, discounts are available.

East Bay Camp

The East Bay Camp and Retreat Center is located in Hudson, Illinois. It offers children's summer camps, day camps, and adult retreats. The Center provides a variety of religious-themed summer camps such as Catch the Spirit, where campers engage in bible study, boating, and swimming. The Pathfinders Camp offers campers an opportunity to worship around the campfire, participate in archery practice, and sleep in hammocks under the night sky. These are just two of the twenty-six camps that families can choose from. Each camp has its own focus and price, which can be found on their website.

Swift Nature Camp

Parents can choose from six different summer camp options offered by Swift Nature Camp. The cost of the camps ranges from $850 for a Canadian canoe trip to $4,900 for an Adventurer camp. Discovery Camp, a twelve-day-long camp designed for first-time campers, is a very popular summer camp. For Discover Camp, over 100 staff members work with less than fifty kids. This extra attention is great for kids who may be nervous about being away from home.

The camp provides financial options such as partial scholarships and multi-camper discounts. Swift Nature Camp also matches any funds received from the local Rotary Club. However, there are additional charges to consider, including the camp store and fees for horseback riding.

YMCA Camp Benson

Established in 1928, YMCA Camp Benson is the oldest camp included in this list. The camp offers four different programs for kids of all ages. These include a mini-camp and mega-camp for children entering grades one through eight, an adventure camp for grades three through nine, and a teen camp for those entering grades seven through twelve.

Each program provides a wide variety of activities aimed at helping children learn survival skills, develop character, and gain a sense of independence. The cost of attending Camp Benson varies based on the program and age group, with prices ranging from $425 to $1,150.

Kids Education Knowledge Field Trip Summer Camp Graphic
Summer camp is a great way for kids to make friends and learn about nature.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking of sending your child to a summer camp in Illinois, these ten camps are some of the best in the state today. Several camps on this list, like YMCA Camp Benson, have been a popular choice for parents for decades. Additionally, Camp Akita and East Bay Camp offer excellent religious-based camping experiences. If you are looking for camps with many programs to choose from, Camp Shaw and Discovery Day Camp are great choices.

Although some summer camps in Illinois can be quite costly, there are financial assistance programs available. These include discounts for multiple children and scholarships. These ten summer camps are a great starting point, but more research may be necessary to find the perfect one for your child.

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