5 Incredible Summer Camps in Illinois
Summer Camps Day Camps Sleepaway Camps Arts Sports illinois

5 Incredible Summer Camps in Illinois

Who doesn't love summer camp? Camping is one of the most popular summer activities among children. However, finding the best summer camps is essential to make sure that your children will enjoy every bit of their vacation.  It's the place where you solidify friendships, discover new passions, and maybe even learn to love the outdoors. Although Illinois may not have palm trees and ocean waves, that doesn't mean the state can't have great summer camps! We're counting down the five best camps in Illinois you'll want to know about for a great time and new friendships.

Here is a common question we see parents asking often!

Do summer camps in Illinois need to be licensed by the state?

Absolutely. Based on the resources provided, the licensing requirements for summer camps in Illinois can be nuanced. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, state law requires the department to inspect and provide licenses to campgrounds in Illinois annually. However, resident summer camp programs that last less than nine consecutive weeks may not be required to be state-licensed and are not state-regulated.

It's essential for parents and caregivers interested in Illinois summer camps to research each camp's specific licenses and inspections. Parental due diligence can ensure a safe, fun, and compliant camp environment for all campers. If you need assistance finding suitable summer camp options with reliable licensing information, Camps With Friends is here to help.


  1. Youth Camps and Campgrounds - Illinois Department of Public Health

  2. State Specific Resources - Alliance for Camp Health

10 popular summer camps in the state of Illinois!

  1. Camp Manitowa
  2. YMCA Camp Duncan
  3. Eurotech Soccer World
  4. Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See
  5. Camp Ondessonk
  6. Greenwoods Camp for Boys
  7. Lake of the Woods Camp for Girls
  8. Tower Hill Camp
  9. Swift Nature Camp
  10. Camp Little Giant

Here are 10 of the most beloved sleepaway and day summer camps in Illinois, carefully selected to cater to a broad spectrum of interests and experiences:

  1. Camp Manitowa – Where adventures abound and friendships flourish in a setting that's all about discovery and connection.
  2. YMCA Camp Duncan – A place where kids can stretch their wings and try new things in a supportive, inclusive environment.
  3. Eurotech Soccer World – Perfect for the aspiring soccer star in your family, blending skill development with the joy of the game.
  4. Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See – A traditional camping experience with modern insights, offering a smorgasbord of outdoor activities.
  5. Camp Ondessonk – Nestled in the heart of nature, this camp emphasizes environmental stewardship and outdoor survival skills.
  6. Greenwoods Camp for Boys – Dedicated to building character and skills in a fun, engaging summer setting.
  7. Lake of the Woods Camp for Girls – Empowering girls through a diverse range of activities and adventures.
  8. Tower Hill Camp – Known for its welcoming atmosphere, it’s a place where kids can explore their creativity and spirit of adventure.
  9. Swift Nature Camp – A haven for young nature enthusiasts and aspiring scientists, focusing on environmental education and fun.
  10. Camp Little Giant – A truly unique and inclusive camp, offering dynamic programs for children with a wide range of abilities.

Each of these camps provides an exceptional backdrop for summer memories, helping your child to explore, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment. Whether your child is drawn to the arts, sports, science, or outdoor adventure, Illinois' summer camps offer diverse experiences to spark their interests and ignite their potential. Remember, choosing the perfect camp is just the beginning of a summer filled with stories to tell and friendships that last a lifetime. Let Camps With Friends help you make those connections, easily and hassle-free.

5 More Top Summer Camps In Illinois.

YMCA Camp Lakewood
Looking for a summer activity your kids will love?
YMCA Camp Lakewood in Illinois is the perfect place to send your 8–15 years old. It's a sleepaway camp that's full of fun and excitement, whether your child is into sports, arts, or both! The camp can help them build lifelong skills like confidence, independence, and community-building—not to mention that they'll make amazing memories.
If you're worried about the cost, don't be: the YMCA has financial assistance available. You can also choose different packages, including extended stays and programs to help children with special needs.
Camp Pillsbury
Camp Pillsbury in Chicago, Illinois is a non-traditional summer camp with a philosophy that we like to call "fun with a purpose." It's for 9-17 years olds, and offers tons of activities, from archery to pottery to outdoor adventure. This is a sleepaway camp, which offers tons of opportunities for the kids to make friends and grow as people all while participating in fun activities.
The camp includes theater and art classes like musical classes, sports and games like kickball, leadership training like confidence building, and outdoor adventure like kayaking.
Camp Lantern Creek
Camp Lantern Creek is a sleepaway summer camp for children ages 7-17.
In addition to classic camp activities like arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, and bonfires, they also offer opportunities for more advanced skill acquisition. Campers can stock their schedules with everything from equestrian riding to nature photography, or even join one of their specialty camps: sports, hunting, fishing, or filmmaking. They have a great staff of expert counselors who are ready to make sure your child has the best possible experience at camp. Their staff is highly skilled at making personal connections with campers and helping them have the most fun possible!
Art - Colorful Minds & Creative Hands
Art - Colorful Minds & Creative Hands is an amazing summer camp for kids in Illinois. It's a place where kids who love art can come together and have fun, explore the world around them, and learn about themselves through art.
It's for ages 4-12. They offer half-day, full-day, and day-week options, plus two weeks of sleepaway camp in August.
Activities include traditional and mixed media painting, 3D modeling and paper-crafting, origami and paper folding, jewelry making, collage, printmaking, weaving, and basketry… the list goes on! It's the perfect place to explore your creative side.
HiFive Sports Camp
HiFive Sports is a summer camp in Illinois that offers kids a chance to build friendships and have fun while they learn an array of different sports. It’s open to kids ages 5-12, and it has the option to be either a day camp or a sleepaway camp.
At HiFive Sports, kids can choose from soccer, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, martial arts, and more. The camp also includes exciting activities like swimming and hiking. There are also more sedentary activities for those who prefer them, like crafts, music, and drama. Kids get to choose their own activities every day.
How Can Summer Camp Enhance My Kid’s Life
Summer is coming up fast, which means it’s time to sit down and think about what your kids will be doing during those long, hot months. If you are the type of parent who likes to keep their children busy learning new things and exploring their surroundings, then it might be time to look into summer camps. Here’s why you should consider sending your child to summer camp:
It will help them learn a new skill or hobby. Many summer camps offer a wide range of activities from hiking and swimming, to horseback riding and archery. These types of activities give your child an opportunity to learn something new in an environment where they can feel safe and supported by friends and counselors alike.
Plus, it gives them time away from home where they can explore their interests without having any distractions like television shows or video games distracting them from what matters most: having fun!
Even if your child doesn’t choose one specific activity during their stay at camp, they will still come home with some improved abilities that they can use throughout life.
Final Thoughts on Illinois Summer Camps!
Summer camps in Illinois and near Chicago have always had a reputation for being safe and reliable. Perhaps this is because most camps in the state are outdoors, meaning that campers will be occupied by something else—bolstered by the surrounding trees and greenery of the area. We genuinely hope that this post will help you discover the right summer camp for your child. As mentioned, there are a lot of different things to consider. These camps provide an amazing opportunity for your child to explore new interests and make some unforgettable memories with his or her peers. If in-person summer camps aren't quite your style or your kiddos style, you might want to look into virtual summer camps!