Think back to your childhood… those halcyon days of yore. Without school to structure your existence, the summers were big, blank canvases teeming with all the possibilities your youthful mind could conjure. Long days that never seemed to end, new friends, fun things to do and learn…
As children, most of us went to some sort of summer camp, whether through church, the Scouts, a park district, or otherwise. And while the experience itself is short-lived, its impact can be lasting—even lifelong. Indeed, for many, summer camp remains one of our most cherished memories.
Now, you have your own kids, and life’s a bit different than it was when you were their age. But even today, there remain some enduring truths, the benefits of the camp experience among them. And considering the disconnectedness—from nature and other people—so easily engendered by the digital age, camp may just be more vital than ever.
A sense of community. Enhanced social skills. Learning through experience. Lessons in leadership and responsibility. Self-esteem, self-worth, and on and on…the impact runs deep and wide. Here in central Illinois, the Peoria Park District offers a wide range of summer camps for children of all ages and interests. Take a look, find the right camp for your child, and sign up today!
- Ancient Oaks Day Camp, Ages 5-13. Have fun—and learn a thing or two—in the great outdoors of Sommer Park, with its woods, open fields, ponds and trails. Running from June to early August, each week offers a new theme, from astronomy to dinosaurs to art and music. Call 691-6295.
- CampZone/Early Learners, Ages 4-5. This half-day preschool program features games, crafts, playtime and more, with a focus on socialization and early childhood motor development. Camp meets Monday through Friday, 9am to noon. Call 681-2865.
- CampZone at Glen Oak, Ages 6-12. Choose your theme, from “Walking on the Moon” to “Wizard School.” Each of the 10 weeklong sessions features activities such as sports, games, arts and crafts, nature programs, fishing, special events, and more. Call 681-2865.
- Camp Onstage, Ages 6-13. Peoria’s premier performing arts camp features instruction in drama, dance and music, while campers write an original play to be performed at the Glen Oak Park Amphitheatre. Other activities include set and costume design, make-up skills, swimming and games. Call 681-2861.
- Fine Arts Camps, Ages 7-12. With hands-on activities in the fine arts, each week has a different focus, from art and photography to pottery, magic, sculpture and more. Call 681-2861.
- Proctor Center Summer Fun Academy. Mornings feature out-of-the-box teaching in math, science and reading, while afternoons are full of sports and other extracurricular activities—with a field trip every Friday! Children are grouped by age. Call 673-9183.
- Summer Band & Orchestra, Ages 8-18. Learn to play a variety of music, from jazz to country, while performing at a variety of locations in central Illinois. Students are grouped by skill level; Senior Summer Band is available for high school students. Call 681-2861.
- Zoo Camp, Grades K-8. Discover “where the wild things are” at the Peoria Zoo and learn about animal habitats at this weeklong day camp. Each session is tailored to a specific age group and topic. Call 681-3513.
- RiverPlex Summer Day Camp, Ages 5-12. Campers will enjoy a wide variety of activities, from the indoor AquaPlex and outdoor water/sand play area to arts and crafts, health and fitness activities, and sports. Call 282-1508.
For more information, call the Peoria Park District at 688-3667, or visit peoriaparks.org/summer-camps and download the 2012 Summer Day Camp Guide. a&s
The Peoria Park District is not the only organization with big plans for the summer. Here are a variety of other options for sending your children off to explore, learn and have fun!
- The Sun Foundation’s Art & Science In The Woods returns for its 38th year from June 11th to 15th. Children ages six to 18 are taught by inspiring artists, engineers, archeologists, scientists and more, while taking in the natural beauty of the outdoors. Visit sunfoundation.org or call (309) 251-2819.
- Geared for 4th through 10th graders, ICC’s College For Kids offers two sessions in June and July. Choose from a variety of fun, educational classes in art, adventure, math, science, dance, theatre, computers, language and more. Visit icc.edu/cfk or call (309) 690-6914.
- The Peoria Humane Society offers several camps for animal lovers. Go behind the scenes at PAWS during Kids & Critters Camp (grades 5-8) or learn about animal protection and care at Animal Welfare Summer Camp (high schoolers). Visit peoriahs.org or call (309) 672-2447.
- The Lakeview Museum Summer Camp takes place in July and features LEGO and Harry Potter-themed activities, among many others. From preschool to 6th grade. Call (309) 686.7000, ext. 148.
- Spend time with the naturalists at Wildlife Prairie State Park and have fun learning about nature. The park’s day camp for kids ages six to 11 runs from June 25th to 29th. Call (309) 676-0998 or visit wildlifeprairiestatepark.org.
- If you’re not a Peoria resident, call your local park district—most offer camps for children among their summer activities!