Here is what parents, campers, and local experts have to say about Camp Play-A-Lot!
“One of my sons (12 y.o.) was not sure what to do for the PAL talent show. After the practice day, he told me that he saw a little girl sitting by herself, seeming sad and also not having an act planned for the show. He asked her to be a part of his show. At home, he collected props and costumes to share with her. I was impressed at how Camp PAL had fostered the environment to make that happen. ”
“I appreciated that the camp was small enough that the kids got personal attention, and yet big enough that they were able to expand their social circle beyond just their school friends. We love seeing other campers at soccer games, and the kids always seek each other out to say hi and catch up. I felt like the kids’ personalities and individuality was able to come through in the variety of activities that were offered. I remember hearing one friend say that you really named that camp well, because you play A LOT!”
“The kids had fun. They played – a lot. The counselors really care.”
“We really appreciate the camp’s mission, and the focus on diversity. Also, kids get to participate in a variety of activities (swimming, field trips, group activities), so there is something for everyone.”
“I am so impressed by the way this camp is put together and run, the way communication works to and from camp and parents, the way the kids are excited about the theme each week. ”
“Sam had a great summer at camp pal and said it was his favorite camp ever! I think the caring and intentional focus of the staff and mission of the camp really came through! I was very impressed with the values based curriculum and how this was executed in a way that was meaningful without being too heavy handed for the campers.”
“All the Coaches were always very cheerful and encouraging. I like how the program empowers all the children to be leaders.”
“The counselors are outstanding. The camp provides many wonderful, different experiences. It is a wonderful neighborhood camp that is so good that it will draw outside the neighborhood.”
From Our Partners / Visitors
“This is one of the best summer camps I know of. Jenn and her staff implement best practice from the field of youth development beautifully. It would be a great learning experience for anyone to get involved with so pass it on.” -Paul Wright, Ph.D, Director of Physical Activity and Life Skills Group, Northern Illinois University
“As a former camp director, I was amazed to witness the ease with which the staff was able to handle the multiple challenges a day camp presents. Not only were they able to create a safe environment for the kids, they did so in an educational way. They make it look easy, but it really isn’t! I would strongly recommend any camp director looking for ideas on how to improve their camp to spend some time at Camp Play-a-lot.” – Seira Fortin-Suzuki, Université de Sherbrooke
“I first heard about Camp Play-a-lot at an international conference. We asked Jenn, the camp director, if we could spend the day with staff and campers. As international colleagues from Canada, we were happy to be given the opportunity to learn more about camp Play-a-lot and its activities. What we experienced during our short visit was way more than what one should expect from a regular day camp…
We saw a camp where diversity is embraced and promoted, where everyone feels at home. Where you can play music chairs and express yourself through creative dance moves – even pretend to be a firefighter! Where a four year-old can create and teach yoga postures to older kids. Where ‘Onion flavor bunion cream’ is a great name for a team. Where DIRT (daily independent reading time) is looked forward to and enjoyed by all campers and staff.
We’ve seen kids sharing their voices and who they are – out loud or with bright colors on posters on the wall. We’ve seen kids taught to make better choices for themselves, either for an activity, a leader, a team or a book to read. We’ve seen kids misbehaving being taught about how to make better choices for themselves instead of being punished. We’ve seen a camp director welcoming parents and kids, knowing most (if not all) of them by their names, even if it was only day 2. We’ve seen staff sharing personal stories with the kids to help them envision their possible future.
We’ve seen older kids being empowered and showing positive leadership with younger kids and with their peers, teaching them how to behave during the pool activity later that afternoon.
We’ve seen campers and staff ‘play-a-lot’, but also ‘learn-a-lot’. We’ve seen staff being involved in on-site professional development activities, providing them with opportunities for success as well as building their self-confidence. Working at camp Play-a-lot looks way more than a summer job: it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow as a leader.”
-Sylvie Beaudoin, Ph.D. Université de Sherbrooke
“Everyday was a new game or craft or adventure!”
“I liked all the cool campers!”
“Camp Play-A-Lot is the best camp in Chicago, probably even the world but I am not for sure 100 percent.”
“Camp Play-A-Lot is more fun than the weekends!”