Ready to send your kid to sleepaway camp this year? We're gathering parent recommendations for the best overnight camps near Chicago...or near enough to be worth the trip for an epic summer experience!

Parent reviews are essential to picking out the right overnight camp, so please comment below if your kids have attended any of these. Chicago parents, if your favorite overnight summer camps in Illinois or around the Midwest aren't on the list yet, please suggest them as new recommendations to let us know about them.

Find more summer fun on our full Chicago camp guide.

    Camp Manitoqua

     (734.3 mi)

    1 week sessions, overnight


    2nd- 9th graders

    Vanessa M.:  Camp Manitoqua is a retreat from the everyday, and into a one of a kind overnight summer camp experience. With a focus on the Christian faith, campers will also enjoy campfires, team-building challenges, high ropes, ziplines, paintball, sports, outdoor education, nature studies, and more. Day Camps are also available.

    Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See

     (742.4 mi)

    3, 5, and 7-day sessions, overnight


    Age 7-17

    Ann Moody:  A classic summer camp with 4-H roots now open to the public. The camp accommodates about 150 kids per session in rustic cabins with plenty of outdoor, unplugged activities. There are no specific themes or agendas here. Just fun, friendliness and an all-are-welcome approach. Located on Rock Creek, a small and lovely tributary to the Kankakee River near the state park in a beautiful rural setting. The camp goes back generations and fell into a state of disrepair but has been gradually restored and updated so that you are greeted with well-tended grounds and cheerfully painted bright cabins.

    Emagination Computer Camps

     (752.2 mi)

    2-week sessions, overnight

    $3249/overnight, $1695/day

    Age 8 - 17

    Gina I.:  At Emagination Computer Camps, kids enjoy the perfect mix of technology learning and summer fun! Hosted at Lake Forest College, campers are assigned to small groups by age and enjoy hands-on learning from well qualified camp counselors. Kids stay in the college's dorms with supervision.

    Offense-Defense Chicago Football Camp

     (753.5 mi)

    2-day & 3-day camps offered

    Overnight or day camp


    Entering 1st - 12th grade

    Gina I.:  Learn from the best at Offense-Defense Football Camp! Hosted at Lake Forest Academy, players will receive coaching and instruction from former NFL players, as well as retired NFL and current college coaches in this high-intensity camp. Campers will participate in 3 practices a day and is open to players of all skill levels. They will honor roommate requests.

    Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts

     (757.1 mi)

    1, 3 & 6-week overnight options


    Age 7-18

    Shila:  Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts was one of the nation's first co-ed, residential camps to combine singing, dancing, and acting with the fun of traditional camp activities. Campers will spend half the day in theater classes and the other half enjoying sports and elective activities, excursions, and all-camp events. Sessions culminate with large-scale performances in the state-of-the-art theater.

    YMCA Camp Duncan

     (773.6 mi)

    1-2 week sessions, overnight

    $560-$1,420 per session

    Age 7-17

    Vanessa M.:  Chicago YMCA's Camp Duncan is a great place for kids to get out of the city/suburbs this summer, and have a real summer camp adventure! With swimming, boating, ropes course, arts & crafts, climbing wall, nature hikes, campfires, sports, and so much more, campers will never want to leave.

    Beber Camp

     (796.7 mi)

    2 week or 26 day sessions, overnight

    $2,980 - $5,750 per session

    Entering grade 2-12

    Gina I.:  If you're looking for a Jewish camp packed with summer fun, Camp Beber is the place to be! This fun and supportive camp creates the perfect environment for kids to grow, learn, and just be themselves. Activities include: hiking, challenge course, swimming, arts & crafts, tennis, and so much more.

    Camp Timber-lee

     (805.8 mi)

    1 week sessions, overnight


    Entering 4th - 12th grade

    Vanessa M.:  Adventure awaits kids and teens at Camp Timber-lee, a Christian overnight camp situated in the beautiful Wisconsin woods. Campers can choose from Classic Camp, with horseback riding, tower climb, zipline, high ropes, lake swimming, boating, Science Education Center, campfires, crafts, and daily chapel, or specialty camps which focus on target sports, animal adventure, music camp, horse camp, and more.

    The University of Whitewater Gymnastics Camp

     (822.1 mi)

    1 week sessions, overnight


    Age 6 - 18

    Kristy Pepping:  The University of Whitewater is a great option if you are looking for a gymnastics camp for your daughter. They take all levels of gymnasts whether you are a beginner or more advanced. Plus, this is only a week and takes children as young as six so a great first sleepaway camp experience. Besides gymnastics, kids will get to do fun activities organized by camp counselors.

    White Pines Ranch

     (849.5 mi)

    1 week sessions, overnight


    Age 8-15

    Gina I.:  Perfect for the kid who loves their horseback riding lessons! Just 90 minutes outside of Chicago, kids will enjoy an authentic dude ranch experience at White Pines Ranch. Weekly sessions include archery, swimming, night hikes, arts & crafts, talent show, a Friday Night Dance, and of course...lots of horseback riding!

    Camp Kupugani

     (856.7 mi)

    2, 4 or 6-week sessions, overnight

    $2,695 - $7,180 per session

    Age 7-15

    Gina I.:  Camp Kupugani is a family run, multicultural summer camp located less than 2 hours outside of Chicago. Programs include a girls summer camp and a blended camp, as well as mother/daughter and parent/child weekends. The camp features an array of outdoor activities like sand & mud volleyball, climbing walls, swimming pool and waterfront, archery, and more. Most importantly, campers have the opportunity to celebrate diversity in a fun, welcoming environment.

    YMCA Camp Benson

     (891.6 mi)

    4-14 day sessions, overnight

    $475 - $1,150 per session

    Entering 1st - 12th grade

    Gina I.:  Camp Benson has been a favorite summer destination for more than 80 years! They offer overnight camp options from 4 to 14 days. They have lots of great options for safe, well-supervised, and “unplugged” summer fun for your kiddos.

    JCC Chicago - Camp Chi

     (908.5 mi)

    4 day - 8 week sessions, overnight

    $385 - $8,350 per session

    Entering 3rd - 11th grade

    Gina I.:  Unplug from technology and experience a summer that is full of fun, friends, and unforgettable experiences at Camp Chi! Located on beautiful Lake Delton, Camp Chi offers programs ranging from 4 days-8 weeks, as well as 50+ camp activities designed to help kids explore new interests and foster a deeper connection to their Jewish identity.

    Chippewa Ranch Camp

     (951.4 mi)

    4- or 8-week sessions, overnight

    $6,300/4 weeks or $11,350/8 weeks

    Age 7 - 15, girls

    Alexandra F.:  A traditional overnight camp for girls, Chippewa offers 4- and 8-week sessions at its beautiful lakeside, forest-filled campgrounds, where activities range from fishing, windsurfing and sailing, to aerobics, tennis, and trampball (think volleyball+four square+trampolines!), as well as horses, archery, pottery, theater and much more!

    Camp Birch Trail

     (1105.7 mi)

    4- or 8-week sessions, overnight

    $6650/4-weeks, $12,300/8-weeks

    Completed 2nd - 10th grade, girls

    Alexandra F.:  A traditional camp for girls in beautiful Wisconsin, the days at Birch Trail are filled with activities like guitar, outdoor cooking, martial arts, and canoeing. The nights bring on after-dinner programs such as council fires and dance parties. And, no camp experience is complete without the tailored wilderness trips, which vary in length and destination according to age, ability and interest.

    The Road Less Traveled Summer Travel Programs

    $4,150 - $7,950+

    Completed grades 6-12

    Gina I.:  Although it's not your typical summer camp experience, The Road Less Traveled offers wonderful life changing travel opportunities for middle school and high school students. Students can go many places inside the United States or can travel internationally! From community service and language programs to scuba diving and summer adventures, there are lifelong memories to be made at every destination!

Primary photo:   Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center

Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.

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