A model camper: On urban camps

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For most, summer camp conjures up images of hiking, fishing and canoeing in the great outdoors. Exploring in Mother Nature’s backyard. However, children who live in large urban areas can also attend camp without having to travel far from home.

This week, I would like to highlight a couple of Chicago summer day camps that have unique and creative missions I particularly admired and respected.

The first is Kids Science Lab (KSL), located at 1500 N. Kingsbury St. in Chicago. This camp nourishes children’s innate curiosity by engaging the campers in interactive, hands-on experiments, exploring an exclusive curriculum of topics related to science, engineering and design. The classes allow the children to think critically and creatively through a structured class schedule based around four essential elements to their learning: discovery time (investigating questions), hands-on exploration (engaging curiosity), innovation and redesign (problem-solving) and conceptual understanding (reflection).

According to the KSL website: “The curriculum is customized to meet your child’s specific interests and abilities, through hands-on science, critical thinking and creative design to explore the beauty of science all around us.”

The dedicated team of KSL science instructors actively engages the students in the learning process by stimulating their imaginations and allowing them to make their own discoveries rather than merely explaining concepts to them. During a typical day at KSL summer camp, campers could be exploring how rockets get to outer space, how to use a microscope, the biology of the human body or the physics of sound waves and how they make music. All classes are taught in KSL’s state of the art, eco-friendly 4,000-square-foot facility that includes three science labs. Registration is currently open for KSL summer camp, and winter break and academic school year camps are also available. For more information or to register your child in KSL, call (312) 846-1426 or online at www.kslchicago.com.

Another inner city summer camp I would encourage parents to consider for their child is Lillstreet Art Center located in the Ravenswood neighborhood at 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave. in Chicago.

Lillstreet children’s summer camp program, or Kidstreet, offers weeklong art classes in a variety of different artistic mediums, including wheel-throwing, painting, figure drawing and jewelry making. Along with these traditional art classes, Kidstreet also offers more advanced classes in areas such as fashion design, metal-working, film-making, digital photography and wax mold carving for casting bronze and silver rings, charms, pendants and other treasures.

Kidstreet also offers unique classes with specialized themes, such as Inspired by Nature, Cosmic Constructions and Joe’s Photo Safari Camp. Campers who attend Inspired by Nature ca�mp spend the week discovering exciting details about the natural world of flora and fauna and then transform their new knowledge into beautiful works of art. Cosmic Constructions week begins with a field trip to The Adler Planetarium to observe stars, planets and galaxies. The rest of the week is spent in the studio replicating the astrological wonders they discovered using clay and other mixed media. During Joe’s Photo Safari Camp, campers learn how to use cameras and are taught the basics of photographic composition. Afterwards, the children take a weeklong safari through the historic Ravenswood neighborhood capturing artistic images.

Kidstreet summer art camp provides the children with a wonderful avenue for fun and creative expression. Furthermore, campers who have aspirations of attending Fine Arts College after high school may use their pieces of art made during the camp in their portfolios submitted in college applications. Summer camp classes begin on June 10 and go until Aug. 30. Registration is currently open for summer camp sessions. For a complete list of courses, times, and prices, visit www.lillstreet.com/department/camps or call (773) 769-4226.