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posted: 3/26/2014 7:55 AM

Five Reasons to Send Your Kids to Summer Camp

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  • Kids make new friends from different schools, communities, and backgrounds at camp.Lisa Haring

    Kids make new friends from different schools, communities, and backgrounds at camp.Lisa Haring

Lisa Haring

Summer camp can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in a child's life. Camp provides children with a community of caring mentors who introduce them to new and exciting things; help them develop social skills and build character; teach them to face challenges; and encourage them to embrace a healthy lifestyle. In addition, kids at camp make lifelong friendships, reconnect with nature, and unplug from technology. Here are five reasons kids should go to summer camp: 

5. To try new things and experience diversity. Camp shows children how to move out of their comfort zone, and it exposes them to new activities and experiences. Campers get the opportunity to try out different sports and discover new hobbies. Campers at Lake Park, for example, can try paddle boating, kayaking, fishing, bags, and bocce ball. They learn to work together with children from different schools, communities, and family backgrounds.

4. To develop social skills and build character. Camp games teach children to communicate with their peers and to work together as part of a team. When campers at Arndt Park compete during Olympic Week, they learn that individuals and teams are to be commended for both the effort and the accomplishment. Camp also teaches children the core values of ethics, honesty, and respect, whether they are deciding if a fellow camper is 'out at the plate' on the ball field or the true winner of a board game.

3. To face challenges and gain resiliency. Kids at camp feel safe enough to take healthy risks when setting personal goals, such as climbing to the top of the jungle gym at West Park or being the goalie in a soccer game. At camp, children learn the importance of working hard to accomplish what they want and to never give up, all in a low-stress environment.

2. Kids at camp unplug and learn to embrace a healthy lifestyle. At camp, everybody plays! Running, swimming, jumping, hiking, and climbing are built into every day's activities. When kids take a break from their screens, they rediscover their creative powers and engage the real world.

1. Make true friends. All the fun at camp draws everyone closer--singing, laughing, talking, playing, and doing almost everything together. Free from the social expectations pressuring them at school, camp encourages kids to relax and make friends naturally.

The primary goal of the Des Plaines Park District camp program is to make sure children have the time of their lives. A much-needed break from the academic year, summer camp is where creativity, adventure, thrills, smiles, and plain old good times are the priority.

Registration is in progress for Des Plaines Park District summer camps. Both half-day and full-day camps, with before and after care options, are available. Participants can choose from traditional day camps with themed activity weeks; sports camp; an adventure camp with daily field trips; and dance and arts camps that perform onstage at the Prairie Lakes Theatre. Campers take advantage of paddle boating and fishing at Lake Opeka, swimming at Chippewa Pool, Iroquois Pool, and Mystic Waters, mini-golf at Mountain View Mines Adventure Center, the Game Room at the Leisure Center, as well as field trips, sports, games, crafts, outdoor play, and exercise, all in safe, supervised, fun environments. Camps are available for children ages 3-14 and start as low as $66 a week. Payment plans are available.

Residents and non-residents can take advantage of Early Bird Camp Specials by registering before May 19. Early Birds get a reduced camp rate and a Recreation Relief Card good for discounts on admissions to Mountain View Adventure Center, Mystic Waters, Chippewa and Iroquois Pools, Lake Park Golf Course and Marina, and the Golf Center Des Plaines, as well as classes and concessions. It's a great deal.

The Summer 2014 Camp Guide, which describes all the camps in detail, is in the Spring Spectrum Program & Events Guide. The Spectrum is available at all Park District facilities and is online at For more information, call 847-391-5700.