Guide to Summer Camps

01 April 2015
Published in Places

Summer camp has come a long way over the past 154 years since the first American camp took place in Washington, Conn. Activities and programs are endless from traditional outdoor adventures to camps that focus on specialized actvities like the arts, technology, athletics and more. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is camp's objectives to keep children engaged and active during the summer, learning new skills, taking on new challenges, making new friends and meeting mentors for life. Not to mention, having fun! Take a look at some of the wonderful camp options avaialbe in McHenry County: 



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Crystal Lake Park District: Day Camp

The Crystal Lake Park District (CLPD) really does have summer camp planning covered. With the theme of “Relax, we’ve got it covered," this year’s Summer Camp Survival Guide lists the many camp options offered at CLPD. Families can choose an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited full-day camp (ages 3-16); half-day camp, D47 Summer After School Camp, preschool camp, sport camps, dance camp, pom pon camp, gardening camp or robotics and engineering camp. Details and registration information for all camps can be found in the Summer Day Camp Survival Guide.


The following is what sets CLPD camps apart:  

• No membership fee.

• High ratio of counselors to campers.

• Full and half-day options.

• Junior and Teen Leader programs.

• Nationally accredited by the ACA.

• Pay in advance for five sessions of full-day summer and/or extended time (ET), and recieve one week free.  

• Punch pass available.

• Swim lessons taught by certified lifeguards are included in full-day camp – no extra fees.

• Two-week sessions. 

• ET camp opens at 6:15 a.m. and closes at 6:15 p.m. – the latest of all camps in the area. 

• Only camp in the area that provides breakfast and afternoon snack at no additional charge to ET campers.

• Only camp in the area with a nature center that provides hiking, archery, fishing and campfire opportunities.

• Only camp in the area with lake that provides canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming opportunities. 

• Field trips included in fee.




CrossFit Prevail: Strength & Conditioningfb logo

Join CrossFit Prevail of McHenry for its Summer Strength & Conditioning Program for athletes between 7th and 12th grade. This program is designed to take the athlete to the next level of performance that they are looking for. At the end, they will be faster, stronger and more conditioned. CrossFit Prevail offers sessions in June and July. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 


Arts RaueCentersageStudio Spr13

fb logoSage Studio Theatre Workshops

Sage Studio at Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake offers the ultimate learning experience for anyone interested in the world of theater. All classes are taught by working industry professionals and have a max class size of 16 to ensure personal attention and hands-on experience. Download the summer workshop schedule here



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Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois: Sessions and Camps

It’s time to start thinking about giving your girl her best summer yet! Have you considered summer camp with Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois (GSNI)? Did you know girls don’t have to be Girl Scouts to attend? Summer camp at Camp Dean, near Aurora, is open to all girls in grades 1–12! Why spend camp outdoors this summer with Girl Scouts? According to a recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, More Than S’mores, girls benefit immensely from time spent outdoors, from seeking more challenges to becoming better problem solvers. 


Girls will have a great time at sessions, which include the following: 

• Special Guy - Pack up your gear, hit the road, and head to camp with Dad, Uncle or Grandpa for the weekend. Enjoy camp activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, cooking, playing games and more!

• Polar Vortex in July - Build a snowman ... in July? Why not? Just imagine making snow and ice cream for this session as Camp Dean falls under the frozen curse of Princess Elsa! 

• Camp Dean Day Camp - Excited to explore camp, but love the comfort of a nice, soft bed? Come to Camp Dean Day Camp! The day will be full from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with exciting camp activities. There is even an optional overnight for all campers! 


View the 2015 Camp Guide or register for camp sessions at any of GSNI's resident camps. For more, call Camp Director Felecia at 630.897.1565, ext. 7161 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Creative Arts Inc. Art Campsfb logo

Draw, paint, sculpt and more with Creative Arts Inc. camps featuring professional artists, exciting projects and quality art supplies ready to give your child an unforgettable summer. Join Creative Arts in Crystal Lake from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Thursday with two exciting options offer a variety of indoor and outdoor art activities:


• Art Studio camps will focus on art explorations inside the studio, with outdoor lunch time on the studio grounds or at the beach. 

• Art & Adventure camps will include fun art projects and a mini field trip each day to locations such as the beach, the playground, the Dole Mansion and more.


Regular evening and Saturday classes also run throughout the summer session. 


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Challenger Learning Center Space Adventures

Join the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock for summer space adventures! These week-long STEM camps are offered to a wide range of ages. Young scientists can join us for camps that focus on astronomy, rocketry, aviation, robotics and more. Camps include the following: 


• Star Voyagers Camp: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., June 15-19, grades K-2, $250. 

• Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., June 22-26, grades 3-5 and 6-8, $250. 

• Extreme Robotics Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., July 6-10, gades 3-5 and 6-8, $275. 

• Astronaut Training Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., July 13-17, grades 3-5, $250. 

• Rocketry Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., July 20-24, grades 4-8, $275.

• Aviation Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., July 27-31, grades 4-8, $250. 

• Mars Mania Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., August 3-7, grades 6-8, $250. 

• Engineering Camp: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., August 10-14, grades 4-8, $275. 


A 50 percent deposit is required at the time of registration. Learn more and register online. For more, call 815.338.7722. 





Sage YMCA Day Camp: Join the Funfb logo

Camp, like so many other Y programs, is about learning new skills, developing great character and making life long friends. And few environments are as special as Y camp, where children become a community as they learn both how to be more independent and how to contribute to a group. Y camp will teach your child self-reliance, a love for nature and the outdoors, and help them develop attitudes and practices that build character and leadership – all amidst the fun of arts, field trips, sports, fitness and nutrition, swimming and meaningful relationships. Our Y counselors are dedicated to making sure camp is an amazing experience for each and every camper. 


Sage YMCA Camp offers the following:

•  Programs for preschoolers, kindergarteners, school age youth and teens.

•  Professionally trained staff.

•  ACA accredited.

•  Healthy kids focus.

•  Fun field trips.

•  Swimming.

•  Financial assistance available.

•  Extended care available.  


YMCA campers all agree that they are having the best summer ever. Enroll your child today!


Want to change the life of a child?

The YMCA is committed to making sure that every child has access to a safe environment, receives guidance from mentors, makes friends and continues to learn outside of the classroom. Become a part of a community of people dedicated to changing the lives of children. When you make a gift to the Sage YMCA, you can help change the life of a child. Donate today.




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Photo: McHenry County College


McHenry County College Summer Programsfb logo

If you’re dreading the annual “I’m BORED” mantra from your kids this summer, take heart. McHenry County College's (MCC) summer kids programs offer a wide range of classes and camps for kids entering first through twelfth grades that are specifically designed to keep kids busy, engaged, and maybe even light a spark for a future career.

Scot Stars basketball, volleyball and soccer camps are for kids entering grades 3-12. Visit for details.

Kids and College offers two options—half-day Summer Academy classes and full-day MCC Tech Camp that gives kids a choice of six different hands-on  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experiences.

Summer Academy classes include academic and enrichment classes designed to tap into kids’ creativity and critical thinking skills.

For Tech Camp, each week brings a different STEM theme such as “Science Myth Busters,” “Future of Space Exploration and Drones,” and “Minecraft Jr. Design Team.”

MCC has also added a course called Scot’s Teen Chef Challenge. Students will work with MCC’s Chef Pili to learn cooking techniques and food preparation as well as compete against other culinary teams for the Top Scot’s Teen Chef Award.

For more information, visit




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The Studio Art Camp

Treat your child to the pure joy of art-making! At The Studio in McHenry, students will explore, discover, imagine and invent as they build technical and critical thinking skills. Instructors provide a guided learning experience designed to encourage your child’s creativity. Enjoy a variety of drawing, painting, pastel and pottery projects. Each week brings new inspiration and art activities. Instruction by Lucy Tonyan and The Studio staff. Learn more about the classes. 


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fb logo"Art Escapades" Camp at Amber's Art Place

Summer "Art Escapades" Camp at Amber's Art Place at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake offers unique art projects and fun summer adventures. Create T-shirts, graphite drawing outside and inside the Dole Mansion, acrylic painting on canvas, soft pastel, clay sculpture, sketchbook/smashbook, paper mache and other individualized creations.


Take a midday break with "paint and swim" at Main Beach, water games, playground fun and a walk to The Freeze for ice cream. Teen Camp features a day trip to the Chicago Art Institute.


 • Camps for ages 4-17: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Thursday, June 15-August 11, $165 per participant (10 percent off for early registration by May 15; 10 percent off for sibling registration).


Visit the website for more details and pictures. Register online, call 815.404.6520 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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Cary Park District: Camp ECHOfb logo

Camp ECHO is ready and in full force this summer! This camp for children and teens in kindergarten through grade 8 is jam-packed with a variety of non-stop activities that will keep your child going for the entire day. Camp ECHO is located at the beautiful Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area. The majority of the day is located outside where children play, exercise, gain independence, learn life skills, make friends and have a memorable summer. In addition to crafts, sports, swimming, games, and field trips, campers will explore the outdoors through fishing, hiking, scavenger hunts, treasure hunts and more.

Camp ECHO offers the following:

• Camp ECHO for children in kindergarten-grade 5.  

• ECHO Extreme for teens in grades 6-8.  

• One week sessions all summer long.

Options for five or two days a week.

• Early bird registration (ending 5 p.m., Friday, May 22). 

• Before and after camp programming.

• Multiple session rewards.

Learn more and register here




McHenry County 4-H "Health Rocks" Day Campfb logo

The McHenry County 4-H program will be conducting a “Health Rocks” Day camp 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., June 15-19 for children ages 5 to 8. You do not need to be a member of 4-H to attend the day camp. What is unique about the McHenry County 4-H Day Camp is that the 4-H teens design and teach the day camp along with adult support. The camp will have focus on making healthy food choice, growing healthy food and fun activities to promote exercise. Camp takes place at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock. Register here. Call Cindy Sarkady for more information: 815.338.3737.






fb logoMcHenry County Conservation District Day Camps

Hike, camp, fish, explore, craft and discover! McHenry County Conservation District offers everything from day camps with an adult for the first-time camper to half-day camps to full-day camps, ages 5-15. Locations include Woodstock, Marengo, Crystal Lake, Ringwood and Richmond. Options include Day Camp Discovery, Young Explorers Camp, Fishing Camp, Outdoor Adventure Camp, Time Travelers Camp and Wild Things Camp. Learn more at the website, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 815.479.5779.


A Day at the Beach

01 June 2009
Published in History
The story behind Crystal Lake’s Main Beach and The Gates includes colorful tales of corporate greed, gangsters and eccentric tycoons, but most importantly, a triumph for conservation and community.

Dole Manison - An Old Friend

01 October 2007
Published in History
If walls could talk—and some believe that, in this case, they do—the Dole Mansion would have quite a tale to tell. It has stood for nearly a century and a half. Yet, just a few years ago, this storied McHenry County icon was nearly lost to the wrecking ball. Saved by a grassroots fundraising campaign, this local landmark is now being restored room by room, and its annex is home to the Lakeside Legacy Arts Park.