Kid making things at science camp
May 12, 2022

Investing in Unforgettable Experiences

Last summer, we adapted to the challenges of a changing world to make summer magic happen for our community’s kids.

With dozens of Day Camps throughout the Chicagoland area and Overnight Camps on four scenic campgrounds throughout the Midwest, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is a trusted leader in bringing unforgettable, life-shaping experiences to youth and teens.

And 2021 was no exception.

This past summer, YMCA Camp Duncan celebrated its 100th year of fostering confidence and resilience in children and teens. After a yearlong hiatus, camp staff worked tirelessly to ensure the 300-acre campsite in Ingleside, Illinois was ready to give campers the warm welcome they’d been waiting for.

New COVID-19 safety protocols, like rearranging bunks and keeping campers in “pods” based on cabin groups, made it possible for youth to enjoy loads of summer fun while giving parents peace of mind.

Still, what makes the Y’s Overnight Camps so special for generations of campers hasn’t changed: they’re places where youth can be their fullest, most authentic selves, surrounded by friends and role models who embrace them for exactly who they are.

One teen camper at YMCA Camp Duncan spoke about finding a sense of belonging at camp: “At school and in my neighborhood, I have to kind of dress up or act a certain way. I have to make sure I don’t act too goofy or silly. At camp, acting that way is encouraged, and you’re the oddball out if you act normal!”

While our Overnight Camps give young people a “home away from home” in which to explore their passions, make friends, and develop their leadership skills, our centers bring more than their fair share of summer excitement closer to home through our Day Camp program.

From traditional options that offer the classic summer experience families know and love to Specialty Camps tailored to sports, science, the arts, and more, the Y’s Day Camps embody the spirit of year-round learning. This year’s campers created non-Newtonian fluids out of cornstarch and water, prepared healthy snacks, led volunteer projects, practiced sports fundamentals, and more!

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our Day Camps found innovative ways to bring exciting field trips to our communities’ kids. Safe, masked, and outdoors, the Lake View YMCA’s Sports Camp got to put their golf skills to the test at a miniature golf course. Meanwhile, Irving Park YMCA campers had a chance to learn about the endangered species in their own backyards through a documentary screening and visiting guest speaker.

Across the full breadth of the Y’s Overnight Camps and Day Camps, youth of all identities and passions can count on meaningful adventures led by caring, enthusiastic staff who put their growth and wellbeing first.

That’s how we change lives, one summer at a time.