Summer camps may be the best time to introduce kids to a variety of sports.
The setting brings together kids who are at about the same skill level, is supportive with lots of help and attention at hand, and is planned to allow each camper to succeed.
Instilling a love of the game — whether a team or individual sport — happens naturally when children are young.
Here are 19 late-season summer sports camps in and around Chicagoland, offering everything from kung fu and basketball to acrobatics and soccer.
Baseball and Basketball
Chicago Cubs Baseball Camp
These one-week camps for children ages 5-13, and of every ability, let kids enjoy a Major League experience in various locations around the Chicago area, including Lake Forest, Palatine, Naperville and Evanston.
BASH Sports Academy
Four different 4-day camp sessions (all at Welles Park in Ravenswood) are offered this summer for kids 7-12, in either a mornings-only or full-day format. Mornings are for instruction in throwing, defense, hitting and baserunning. Afternoons are when the ball games take place.
Elite Baseball Training
Full-day and half-day weeklong camps teach the fundamentals of baseball and go over every facet of the game (throwing, defense, hitting and baserunning). Some also spend time on a specialty area, such as hitting or pitching. The camps are for kids ages 7-12 and run through August.
Lincoln Park Baseball Academy
LPBA’s summer baseball and softball day camp programs run Monday through Thursday until the end of August. Softball sessions are half-day and for girls between the ages of 7-13; baseball camps are offered as both half and full days. The two fields at Oz Park are used separately for ages 5-7 and 8-13 with regard to coed baseball.
Advantage Basketball Camps
Ball-handling and basketball shooting camps take place from June through August in various locations in Chicago and throughout the state. These are 3- and 5-day programs, some running from all day, others half the day, and are for children ages 6-18, of all levels and skill abilities.
Football and Soccer
Chicago Bears Youth Football Camps
Football camps for kids ages 6-14 are held throughout Chicagoland this summer, with options including half-day and full-day camps that last a week. There are also four-day mini camps, which are hour-long sessions for skills and conditioning. All programs are led by professional coaches, and Chicago Bears alumni heroes provide supplemental instruction.
Throughout the summer, weeklong soccer camps (all-day and half-day) are being offered at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch and a multitude of other parks, clubs and districts in the city and outlying areas.
SoccerPlus runs weeklong residential and day camps across the country every summer, including at the DePaul University campus.
Challenger Sports offers British, Brazilian and American-themed soccer camps for all ages and abilities through August. These camps will be held in dozens of different locations in Chicagoland. Most sessions range from 90 minutes to half days through the week. If you go to the site, you can search upcoming camps by ZIP code.
Dance and Gymnastic Camps
Thodos Dance Chicago
Different styles and levels of dance for all ages taught by professional dance educators at Thodos’ location near North and Clybourn. For 2015 summer options, download this class catalogue.
Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center
Campers can opt for full- or half-day classes, Monday through Friday. Classes options are Dance Medley, where kids learn a number of dance styles and techniques, or Broadway Bound, which includes voice and acting in addition to dance training.
The Little Gym
There are two summer camps for children at The Little Gym of Chicago: One for kids ages 3-8 years, and one for those between 6-12. The second is a gymnastics skill-building camp, held on Friday evenings from 6-9pm.
Weeklong half- and full-day camps at Lakeshore Academy are for children ages 5-12. The major activities are gymnastics and rock climbing, with structured games and fitness challenges, as well.
Martial Arts and Circus Camps
Bei Dou Kung Fu Chicago
Their second summer camp for 2015 runs from July 20 to July 31, and is open to kung fu practitioners of all ages, including adults and families.
Kids ages 6 and older can attend weekly full-day sessions, whether they’re new students trying circus for the first time or intermediate to advanced students who want to polish their skills. Some of these skills including acrobatics, clowning, juggling, stilt walking and tight wire performance.
Multiple Sports and General Recreational Camps
Chicago Park District
Summer and late-summer camps offered by the Chicago Park District in the 200-plus parks throughout the city include sport-specific half-day camps — such as basketball and boxing — as well as all-day sports camps that introduce children to a number of different sports such as basketball, biking and soccer.
General day camps are also offered, and these include recreational activities, sports and swimming (in a park pool or in Lake Michigan, depending on the location), in addition to field trips.
US Sports Camps
The official operator of Nike Sports Camps offers (at last count) 27 summer camps in Chicagoland for various ages and levels from beginner to expert. The sports taught include golf, cross-country running, tennis, soccer, basketball, football, baseball and softball. You can also train in water sports and lacrosse.
The full-day and half-day camps run right through the summer at the 23 YMCAs in the Chicagoland area, and there are four overnight locations that operate until mid-August. The day camps are for kids from 3 years old to teens and include fields trips, sports, group games and swimming. Some camps, such as the half-day British Soccer Camp, focus on a specific activity.
University of Chicago Super Summer Sports Camp
This weekly Monday-to-Friday program (offered mornings, afternoons or all day) teaches children of all ability levels in team sports that include basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball. There are games as well as individual skill-building in swimming, tennis and archery.
Prefer a Triathlon?
If a summer sports camps just doesn’t fit into your schedule this year, Dana Neer, the race director for the Lake Max Triathlon down in Culver, Indiana, on August 8, says they have around 40 participants from the Chicago area every year. She adds that there’s a free hour-long, 8-week tri prep class at noon every Wednesday.
This could actually be a family event, as in addition to the USAT-certified 400-meter swim / 12-mile bike / 5K run triathlon, there will be three other age-appropriate tri-races for kids ages 5-7, 8-10 and 11-12.