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Winter camps the perfect break for kids

Wheel throwing camp is among several winter break offerings Lill Street Art Center.

Wheel throwing camp is among several winter break offerings at the Lill Street Art Center.

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:04PM

Winter break is great — until boredom sets in, usually when the novelty of new toys and gadgets wears off. Offset the “I’m bored” with a short stint at a winter break camp. With themes ranging from art and theater to nature and sports, there are camps to satisfy all interests.

These camps tend to fill fast and require advance registration, so act quickly. And if you miss out, check with your local sports center, park district and library, where winter break drop-in activities may be available.


Lill Street Art Center: The studio provides winter break fun through a variety of short camps for ages 5 to 17.

“There’s a bunch of different offerings,” said Julia Zema, director of marketing and communications. She recommended winter break camp as “a trial version” of five-day camps Lill Street offers in the summer.

The lineup features clay and multimedia (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4, ages 5-12, $195), wheel throwing (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4, ages 8-12, $195), screen-printed school clothes (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Jan. 2-4, ages 10-14, $195), sewing (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 26-28, ages 10-14, $195), metals (9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4, ages 10-16, $145) and holiday glass fusing and beadmaking (9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4, ages 14-17, $165).

Can’t make camp? Check out family drop-in workshops from 10-11 a.m. Saturdays ($10, reservations recommended).

Lill Street is at 4401 N. Ravenswood; call (773) 769-4226 or visit

Wishcraft: Things are less structured during Wishcraft’s winter break camps, dubbed FUNordinary Creative Camps. Staff considers the ages of registered campers and then plans the day’s activities, which can include art and craft projects, games, outdoor play (weather permitting), a midmorning snack and hangout time.

Geared for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade, the sessions run from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 17-21, Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4 and cost $65 per day (discounts are offered when kids register for multiple camps). Extended care is available from 2-6 p.m. for $25 (recommended for ages 5-10).

Wishcraft is at 2312 W. Roscoe; call (773) 348-9474 or visit


Brookfield Zoo: Flurries of Fun 2012 for kids 6-12 takes place in the Discovery Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 19-21, Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4. Campers should come dressed for the weather; they’ll play games, sing songs and help animal keepers by making enrichment treats for animals.

If kids can’t make all three days, sign them up for just one or two. Cost is $90 per day or $250 for three; early arrival (8 to 9 a.m.) and late pickup (3:30 to 5 p.m.) is available at $10 per child per day.

The zoo is at 31st Street and First Avenue in Brookfield. Register at (708) 688-8277 or visit for more information.

Chicago Botanic Garden: Winter break camp provides more flexibility this year because participants can register by the day instead of for the entire camp. Geared toward kids 5-8, the camp offers indoor and outdoor activities — so campers should dress for the weather.

On tap: Winter Weather & Animals (Dec. 27), A Visit to Japan (Dec. 28), Everything Snow! (Jan. 2), All Aboard Wonderland Express! (Jan. 3, includes activities with Writers’ Theatre) and Plant Packages (Jan. 4).

Cost is $69 per child per day and camps run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe. Register at (847) 835-8361 or


DuPage Children’s Museum: Kids 7-10 years old can participate in Cool Chemical Concoctions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 27-28 or Fantastic Mask Making from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 3-4 ($120 for each session). Legos are the main event for kids 5-6 during Jedi Engineering from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 2-4; Sportsbots with Legos targets kids 7-10 from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 2-4 ($135 per session).

DCM is at 301 N. Washington St., Naperville. Call (630) 637-8000 or visit for more information.


The Little Gym: The Lincoln Park and Gurnee locations offer winter holiday camps targeting kids 3-8 (must be potty-trained).

In Lincoln Park, camp is offered on select days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4. Kids can sign up for one day or more. Each day of camp will have a different theme that gets kids moving. Camps are offered from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. each day. Cost is $50 for one day, $90 for two days, $125 for three days, $155 for four days and $180 for five days. A current family membership ($40) is required to participate.

The Gurnee location offers themed camps: reindeer games (Dec. 27); New Year’s Eve beach bash (Dec. 28); fantasy ice castle (Jan. 2); ninjas, knights and food fights (Jan. 3; food fights use real food); and holiday cheer (Jan. 4, cheerleading). Camps run 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $25 for one day, $20 per day for more than one day; siblings are discounted 20 percent; membership not required to participate in Gurnee winter camps.

Locations: 3216 N. Lincoln, (773) 525-5750,, or 101 Ambrogio Drive, Gurnee, (847) 244-4496,


Starland: This North Shore creativity center offers something for everyone with its half-day and full-day options for winter break camps from Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4. Choose from Princess Ballerina Camp, Sports Shorts Camp, Brush to the Beat Camp (art and music) and Discovering the Stars Camp (movie-themed activities). Camps target ages 2.5-7 and cost is $40 for half days and $70 for full days.

Starland is at 445 Pine St. in Deerfield. Call (847) 914-9100 or visit


Emerald City Theatre: Young thespians can act out during Winter Wonderland Camp (ages 3.5-5, 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 2-4, $135) and Cinderella’s Adventure Camp (ages 6-10, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 2-4, $225). Music, dance, drama games, storytelling and other activities will be featured in both camps, which culminate in a presentation for family during the last 15 minutes on Jan. 4.

Camps are held at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Call (773) 529-2690 or visit

Metropolis School of the Performing Arts: Four different winter break camps are offered at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Beginning guitar boot camp offers two-hour sessions Jan. 2-4 broken down by age ($75, requires acoustic guitar). Middle-school singers can hone their audition skills 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 2-4 ($125). High school vocalists can prepare for college auditions during a camp offered from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 2-4 ($95).

Snowed in on Winter Break Camps are offered Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4. They are broken down by age, explore age-appropriate stories and are offered from 9 a.m.-noon for preschool through fifth grade and 1-4 p.m. for sixth- through 12th-graders. Campers showcase what they learned during the last 15 minutes of the last day. Cost is $95. Extended care is available; cost varies.

Metropolis is at 111 W. Campbell St. in Arlington Heights; call (847) 577-5982, ext. 244, or visit


♦ Epic Theatre Company presents the Beatles-inspired rock opera “Let It Be Christmas” Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-22 at the Community Christian Church, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville. Donations of $10 for adults, $5 for kids 11 and younger are accepted online at or at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (630) 388-5000 for more information.

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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