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Strike camps spring up around Chicago to give kids place to go

Lookingglass Theatre Workshop teaching artist Kish Jacksimprovises with JuliSpainhour as ChiarNandapurkar watches during workshop classes Lookingglass Theatre Company studio John

Lookingglass Theatre Workshop teaching artist, Kish Jackson improvises with Julia Spainhour as Chiara Nandapurkar watches during workshop classes at the Lookingglass Theatre Company studio in the John Hancock Building Tuesday, September 11, 2010. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 14, 2012 1:46PM



Responding to demand caused by the Chicago teachers strike, local enterprises are setting up strike camps for parents looking for constructive and creative places to leave their kids during the day, but nearly all come at a cost.

Lookingglass Theatre is one of a number of groups offering day-to-day drama workshop programs. Lookingglass is holding its camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the strike on the 22nd floor of the John Hancock building Children ages 5 to 8 can engage in arts exploration activities, including storytelling, music and art, and kids 9 to 13 learn theater. The cost is $65 per day, the same as Lookingglass charges for its summer camp program.

“It covers expenses for teachers and the staffing,” said Andy White, artistic director.

He noted many of the staff at Lookingglass are parents and realize there is an urgent need for affordable and quality programming that keeps students safe and engaged during school hours.

Sixteen kids participated in the camp Tuesday, up from 13 Monday. Lookinglass can accommodate about 30 kids, White said.

Multilingual Chicago is a language school in the Logan Square and Avondale neighborhoods that provides language classes for adults and kids, and offers a summer language camp for kids. It launched a Spanish-emersion strike camp Monday at a cost of $299 for the week or $60 a day, said Jill Kushner Bishop, president of Multilingual Chicago.

“The kids are immersed in Spanish the entire time,” Bishop said. “The teachers speak to them in Spanish, and [the children] do activities, writing. They play games in Spanish. They’re doing art projects. They have a brief Spanish cartoon break after lunch.”

The program includes children who are highly fluent in Spanish “and kids who don’t know a word of Spanish,” Bishop said. “They’re all learning together in the same class, including my 6-year-old.”

She added her son was part of the impetus for her starting the strike program, “so he’d have somewhere to go during the strike.”

Eight children participated in the camp Tuesday. Bishop said she can accommodate about a dozen children.

At Sylvan Learning Centers in Hyde Park and Chatham, parents have access to a free strike program for grades K through 12 offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the strike, said Ian Coburn, director of the two centers. Participants focus on reading and math, and older children receive assistance preparing for the ACT test.

Just before the strike “we were getting about 30 percent more calls from folks asking about our tutoring services and what kind of hours we were going to have available, so we decided this would be the best way, to make this available to the children,” he said of the free program that’s being offered.

Sylvan’s tutoring services normally costs $40 to $50 an hour, and in some cases $25 an hour, Coburn said.

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness at 1320 W. Fullerton, renewed its summer camp until the strike ends and had 30 children enrolled the first day.

Lakeshore’s camp, which had originally ended on Aug. 31, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $80 per child each day for Lakeshore members and $100 per child each day for non-members. Activities include sports, dancing, swimming, arts and crafts and trips to the park.

In addition to the Lookingglass Theater, the League of Chicago Theatres mentioned four other strike camps:

♦Hubbard Street Dance camps for grades K through 6. 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost for the contemporary dance program is $60 a day or $180 for three days Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and $300 for next week/$60 a day.

♦Brain Surgeon’s Make a Movie camp. Students storyboard a mini movie, movie trailer, music video, short film or silent movie. Cost is $45 a day.

♦NeuroKitchen’s Curiosity Club camp. Designed to nurture elementary school kids’ inquisitiveness and encourage children to take initiative for their own learning. Curriculum designed by the class as a group based on each students’ interests and areas of challenge. Cost is $40 a day. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

♦Studio BE is offering workshops for ages 7-16, from 8:30-4 p.m., with structured learning ending at 3. Workshops include plot structure, dance, creative writing and public speaking. Workshops are $20 a day.

Contributing: Sandra Guy



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