Chicago Suburban Family


Get Ready for “Away Camp”

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Get Ready for “Away Camp”

Sleep-away camp was just what Ally needed in order to gain independence and confidence, marveled her mom, Sharon. “She found a whole new group of girls and had a ball; she’s had a hard time with girls beginning in grade 4,” Sharon says, “so it was great for her to bond with girls in a different setting.” Starting at age 9, Ally went away to camp for a week. The following summer she begged for it to be four. Her parents were delighted.


Time away from parents helps kids learn how to make their own decisions without checking with Mom or Dad first, and residential camp provides the perfect training ground, says Michael Thompson in his book, Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow (Random House; 2012).

If you’d like your kids to develop maturity and gain independence (and if you’d like to begin learning to let go yourself!) it’s time to start researching sleep-away camps. Week- or month-long adventures away from home give kids opportunities to experience unique adventures they’d never find at home. Asking other parents what camps their kids attend can be helpful also; having a friend go with your child is a beautiful thing for parents leery of separation.

To find a camp that fits your child’s needs, seek out opinions from friends and neighbors, ask teachers and church counselors, attend camp fairs and explore options on your own. Residential camps of all kinds and sizes are located all across the country, so there’s sure to be one your child can love and from which he can gain valuable skills.

Camp counselor Jamie Newman expresses enthusiasm for sending kids to camp. “Camp encourages kids to try new things and teaches them confidence through new experiences. They learn valuable life lessons when encouraged to work through their fears to try something even if it doesn’t feel comfortable to them. Also, when kids are thrown together in a cabin for a week, they’re forced to learn how to get along with others and often build lasting relationships that can continue when they return home.”

Need more convincing? Here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • 1) Camp builds maturity and allows children the chance to make their own decisions in a safe, caring environment. Kids benefit from new relationships with camp counselors who care about them and want to help them with everyday struggles.
  • Camp forces kids to unplug from technology and enjoy the beauty and benefits of nature. Through outside activities, kids find new hobbies without academic pressure or expectations. Kids gain self-confidence through trying new things and discovering talents they didn’t know they had.
  • Camp teaches good sportsmanship by encouraging each child to be fair and kind. Team activities teach kids how to cooperate with each other and the value of getting along with others though working together and supporting one another.
  • Camp fosters new friendships with kids who come from varying backgrounds – helping kids gain an understanding of how others live outside their community. In a relaxed atmosphere, kids easily make friends while they play, sing, work, eat and bunk together.
  • Camps creates life-long memories of new adventures in places they’ve never experienced before.  Camp offers carefree days where kids can learn how to thrive outside the structure of over-scheduled days.

Parents and “Child sickness”
When it comes to sending a child to sleep-away camp, plenty of parents say, “Well, she’s ready for camp, but I’m not ready for her to leave!” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.” For child sickness, the same can be true except it pertains to what parents experience when their child is away. Those who suffer from the condition feel some form of anxiety, sadness and nervousness, and most distinctly, obsessive preoccupation with thoughts of their child.

“Parents today are more anxious than their peers were 20 and 30 years ago,” says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. “That said, the partnerships between parents and camp directors have increased. Parents should share their concerns with camp directors who are prepared to respond with responsible, informed answers.”

Tips for Letting Go

  • Let your child have trial runs being away from you by permitting sleepovers.
  • Don’t show anxiety to your child – it will make it hard on him.
  • Have a plan for yourself: Get a project done that you’ve never had time for, go on a trip with your spouse, etc.
  • Remember: two of the greatest gifts you can give your child are confidence and independence.

By Gayla Grace

Summer Camps…Sign-Up Time

A summer camp environment allows children to learn new skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The summer camp experience can have a lasting psychological impact on the development of a child. From friendship building to physical activity, your child has a lot to gain from attending camp. Check out the camps in this section and sign up your kids for an experience they won’t forget.


SEASPAR’s summer day camps are the perfect place for kids, teens, and young adults ages 3–22 to spend their summer enjoying creative, social, and physical activities as well as fun community outings! For more information on day camps and other programs for children and young adults, call SEASPAR at 630.960.7600 or visit

Camp Invention®
Imaginations will soar this summer in the all-new Camp Invention® program, Elevate! Campers in grades K-6 will team up to play hybrid hover ball games, tackle environmental challenges and become confident entrepreneurs designing the next great invention! Local educators will lead fun, hands-on STEM activities building collaboration and creative problem-solving skills. Visit or call 800-968-4332 to register. Use promo code LOCAL25 to save $25 (expires 3/31) or LOCAL15 to save $15 (expires 5/12).

Harper College InZone Camps
Hello Summer. Hello InZone! InZone, Harper College’s enrichment and sports camp fills your summer with fun and learning. Kids can expand their art creativity, develop their own website, make a movie or become master a musical instrument and so much more, all while making new friends and long-lasting memories. InZone (ages 8-14) and InZone Junior Explorers (ages 6-8) run for 10 weeks from June 8 – August 14. Visit to learn more, request a catalog, and schedule your summer of fun. Harper College CE, 1200 West Algonquin Road, Palatine, IL 60067. 847.925.6300.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
In SAIC’s camps, kids work together on a variety of fun projects, including painting, drawing, mixed-media, sculpture, printmaking, performance, digital art and more. One- and two-week camps for students ages 4 to 13 begin in June. Located at 36 South Wabash Avenue Suite 1201, Chicago, IL 60603. 312-629-6170. Visit:

Good Times Summer Day Camp
Good Times Summer Day Camp offers campers an exciting and active program for children ages 4-12.  Each week is filled with incredible field trips, many hours of swimming, various sports, exciting guests, challenging crafts, special events, and a theme based cookout. We accommodate parent’s busy schedules by offering extended hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at no extra charge. Schedules are flexible – come only the days you want. Convenient locations in Illinois and Wisconsin. Busing available in some areas.  For more information call 847-680-4884 or visit

Naper Settlement’s Camp Naper
Camp Naper offers kids in grades 1-8 fun, unique, hands-on activities, with advanced tracks for older campers. Be sure to check out our special middle school camps for grades 5-8! All camps include supplies and a snack, and are led by experienced, adult counselors. With over 20 camps to choose from, campers can mix it up with a new camp each day in a Camp Naper Sampler pack, or adventure for a full week in one theme. New camps this year include Creepy Cryptids, Extreme Spies, World War II: America Goes All In, OG Pioneers: Living Off the Grid, DIY Week: Makers Make Their Mark, and more! All camps run from 9AM-3PM and drop off begins at 8AM.  523 S. Webster Street, Naperville, IL 60540. (630) 420-6010. For more information, call 630.420.6010 or visit

Little Mountain Community Theatre
Children entering grades 2-8 in the fall are invited to join us Mondays through Fridays, June 15-26, for a two-week theatrical immersion while rehearsing for a production of Wizard of Oz Jr. Participants will learn lessons in teamwork, responsibility, and self-confidence. Singing, dancing, and acting will be an integral part of the program with a final performance in the Lemont High School Performing Arts Center. Space is limited. Visit for details.

Downers Grove Park District
Downers Grove Park District summer camps offer nearly 100 adventures where kids will make memories that will last a lifetime! Check out action-packed sport camps, teen trips, traditional day camps and our early childhood camps. Unique specialty camps let kids delve into science, robotics, cooking, visual and cultural arts. Campers can take a swing at our golf camps, discover the great outdoors with nature camps or explore their historical side at one of our museum camps. Before and after care is available. Lincoln Center: 935 Maple Ave. 630.963.1300. Lyman Woods Nature Center: 901 31st St. 630.963.9388. Downers Grove Museum: 831 Maple Ave. 630.963.1309. Downers Grove Recreation Center: 4500 Belmont Rd. 630.960.7250.

Moraine Valley Community College’s
FitRec Summer Camp
Spend your summer with FitRec! Moraine Valley Community College’s FitRec is hosting recreational summer camp for ages 5-13. Campers will stay entertained with a variety of activities in our state-of-the-art facility. Half-day options are also available to fit your schedule. Add-on options include:  before & after care and swim lessons. Refer to our ad for dates and prices. 9000 W. College Pkwy., Building H, Palos Hills. For more information or to register, please visit or call (708) 608-4000.

The Chicago Red Stars
The Chicago Red Stars Summer Soccer Camps and Clinics are tailored to aspiring female soccer players who want access to the best coaches and players in women’s soccer. Girls Soccer Day Camps: Improve your soccer skills at day camps in Libertyville, Schaumburg, Glen Ellyn, and Wheaton. Residential Girls Soccer Camps: Experience an immersive multi-day sleepover camp in Deerfield or Lisle for full day focus like collegiate and pro players. Learn more at

Shady Oaks Camp
At Shady Oaks Camp, we create outstanding camp experiences that enrich the lives of our campers that promotes safety, independence, supportive care and attention based on the individuals needs and goals. Because the Association is a not for profit, private organization, the money to run camp must be raised by the parents. We are now accepting applications for membership into the Parents Association and Shady Oaks Camp for summer of 2020. 16300 Parker Rd. Homer Glen, IL 60491. For more info visit

Cub Creek Science Camp
Ages 7-17. Imagine a summer camp where you can eat breakfast next to a colony of lemurs, zoom down a zip-line and pet a camel before lunch, then play a camp wide game of Capture the Flag after dinner! We are that camp! With 300 animals including porcupines, foxes, parrots, lizards, miniature horses, a 6-element ropes course, and classes in chemistry, pottery, culinary, animal care, and many more, we are a truly unique summer camp experience! A/C cabins.  ACA accredited. (573) 458-2125.

Rock ‘n’ Kids
Calling all toddlers to sing, dance and play the Rock ‘n’ Kids way! Tot Rock and Kid Rock are structured music and movement programs for children ages 1-5 that use a unique approach to music education! Since 1995, Rock ‘n’ Kids has been educating young children through imaginative play, sensory integration, fine and gross motor skills, and socialization. A variety of rhythm instruments and movement props are utilized and a new educational theme is implemented each session! Classes offered at park districts in the Chicago-land area. Mobile music and dance parties also available! / 847-961-6584.

Heart to Art!
The Auditorium Theatre is proud to present the 16th season of our award-winning summer camp. This unique performing arts camp brings together young people between the ages of 7 and 14 who have experienced the death of a parent to encourage the healing power of creative play. Through the exploration and creation of dance, theatre, and music, Hearts to Art inspires communication and collaboration, fosters emotional growth, and provides friendship, compassion and community with young people who have experienced a similar loss, campers understand they are not alone .To learn more about this FREE program go to

Great Lakes Volleyball Center
The GLCYA is accepting girls and boys ages 3-14 for the Great Lakes Center Youth Volleyball Academy Spring programs. All sessions focus on motor development and individual skill development by teaching both proper skill technique and introducing the young athlete to age appropriate game play as well for volleyball. NEW in 2020 is our GLC Elite Club program for 7th-10th grade girls. The Great Lakes Volleyball Center is located at 579 N. Oakhurst Drive, Aurora, IL. 60502. For more info call 630-898-6400 or visit  FB: Great Lakes Center Youth Academy

Northwestern University’s
Center for Talent Development
Center for Talent Development’s Summer Programs offer advanced students, PreK through grade 12, an exceptional opportunity to delve into a subject of interest, build upon their strengths, and connect with a community of peers. Half-day and full-day options are available at Northwestern University’s Evanston, IL campus and other Chicago-area sites. For more information, visit

Lombard Park District
Join the fun at Day Camp! Day Camp participants, ages 6-12, will experience a range of activities from arts & crafts, sports, contests, walking trips, field trips, themed activities and more. Register today to be a part of the fun at Lombard Park District! Lombard Community Building Playground 433 E. St Charles Rd. Lombard

University of Illinois
University of Illinois, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics has committed itself to the development of well-rounded summer sport camps for boys and girls. Young athletes have the opportunity to learn more about their sport, improve their skills, create new friendships and have fun at the same time. Campers receive excellent coaching, experience campus life, and meet athletes from a variety of backgrounds. To learn more about specific camp offering go to

Cubs Baseball Summer Camps
Cubs Baseball Summer Camps offer young ballplayers the unique opportunity to learn new skills through the official Cubs camp curriculum and get closer to their favorite team than ever before! From first-time players to travel-team participants, Cubs Baseball Summer Camps will help grow your camper’s skills to ensure success both on and off the field. Sign up today at at one of our EIGHT LOCATIONS throughout the Chicagoland area! Save $40 with discount code: CHCSFM20

Animal Camp Jamaica
Ages 13-18. Travel abroad with Animal Camp Jamaica . This 13-day program focuses on Marine Biology and Cultural Immersion. Spend mornings snorkeling and afternoons exploring the island of Jamaica swimming with dolphins, trying exotic foods, and jumping from waterfalls! Campers stay at private and comfortable villa in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. For more info call (573) 458-2125.

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