South Side Summer Camps

School lets out soon. What's next?

The last day of school for Chicago Public Schools is June 19. What happens next? The Weekly has compiled a list of summer programs for young people across the South Side to fill their days with. Feel free to send information about other opportunities to!

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XS Tennis Camps
XS Tennis, 1301 E. 47th St. Monday-Friday; June 22-Aug. 21; full day 9am-4pm, half-day 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm. Ages 5-14. (773)548-7529. $50 for each five-week session

This summer, XS Tennis will offer two programs: Tennis and STEM Camp is for tennis juniors who are aiming to reach a district, sectional, or national ranking; the schedule includes drilling, training, and match play. Sports and STEM Camp lets campers try out tennis as well as basketball, volleyball, baseball, and soccer with the help of staff who are professional and collegiate-level athletes. Sports and STEM campers work on skill building in the mornings, and put those skills to use in afternoon games. Sports camp also includes field trips, weekly trips to the 31st Street beach, and arts and crafts workshops. Both camps include Project SYNCERE’s Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) curriculum, which employs project-based learning to engage students in working with engineering and teamwork. You can register for eight weeks at a set price, or pay at weekly rates for additional weeks. To register, contact XS Tennis at 773-548-PLAY. (Mari Cohen)

South Side Junior Tennis Camp
South Side Junior Tennis, 1362 E. 59th St. Saturdays, June 6-July 11 (Session 1) and July 18-August 15 (Session 2), 10am-11:45am. Ages 5-14.

Founded in 2011, the South Side Junior Tennis Camp offers an affordable introduction to tennis with an emphasis on sportsmanship, perseverance, and healthy living. All coaches have experience playing collegiate tennis, ensuring that each student receives one-on-one instruction focused on developing fundamental skills and basic stroke mechanics. This year the organization will offer two sessions of weekly Saturday classes, with three levels of instruction split between students aged ten and under, beginners aged eleven to fourteen, and advanced beginners aged eleven to fourteen. Class sessions will be one hour for students ten and under, and two hours for older students. Tennis rackets and other equipment will be provided, with junior sized rackets and courts available for younger participants. (Peter Gao)


Red Clay Dance Company
Summer Dance Intensive at the American Rhythm Center, 410 S. Michigan Ave., 3rd Fl. July 13-17. Monday-Friday, 9am-2:30pm. Session culminates with an informal studio showing Friday July 17 at noon and company auditions Friday July 17, 2:30pm-4:30pm. (773)624-8411. Registration for the Red Clay Summer Intensive is by July 6th; $300 fee must be paid in full.

The South Side-based Red Clay Dance Company is known across the city for its dedication to global engagement and local change, enacted through Afro-Contemporary dance. This summer, young dancers set on something more rigorous than a weekly drop-in class will have the chance to enroll in Red Clay Dance Company’s Summer Dance Intensive. Designed to provide a professional-level training experience, this program builds on the technical rigor and cultural artistry of Afro-Contemporary technique. Classes range in style from West African to ballet, yoga, and training in Company repertoire. Twenty-five spots are available for dancers ages eighteen and up. In addition to their summer intensive, Red Clay is running programing for its Youth Ensemble, from July 6 to August 13. Open to intermediate and advanced dancers ages fourteen to eighteen, the Ensemble provides a pre-professional opportunity for teens at the Gary Comer Youth Center, Monday through Thursday, 9am-1pm. (Meaghan Murphy)

Dynamic Force Dance Summer Session
Dynamic Force Dance at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. Multiple styles and ages, see website for details and registration. (773)932-6230.

Dynamic Force is a performance dance program with a mission to unite youth of all backgrounds and prepare them in the techniques of jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical ballet. Children between the ages of two and five can start off with Tot Ballet and Tumbling, while older dancers can enjoy Dynamic Force’s signature Fusion Dance, a multilevel, multicultural class designed to connect dancers with upbeat drum beats. Speaking over the phone, Fusion Dance assures the Weekly that big things are happening this summer. “We’re doing performances. They’re coming up for all students involved with the twelve-week summer session.” The summer session includes classes for all ages in hip-hop, jazz, tumbling, and break dance on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at Dynamic Force’s home base of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and on the North Side (see website for details). Dancers between the ages of six and sixteen are welcome to Dynamic Force’s open clinic and company auditions from 11am to 3pm. Contact with questions. (Meaghan Murphy)

Ayodele Drum and Dance Company
Sesa Wo Suban, 1301 W. 52nd St. Saturdays, June 13-July 25, 11am-2pm. (773)242-9631. $90 with snack provided.

Ayodele Drum and Dance Company presents Sesa Wo Suban, a six-week program that teaches girls ages five to nine the fundamentals of African music and dance. Ayodele, Yoruba for “joy in the home,” is a company of twenty performers that seeks to bring women together through African drum and dance. Sesa Wo Suban, or “transform your character,” is their project to cultivate confidence and creative expression in women at a young age, along with developing music and dance technique. The program will also include arts and crafts, storytelling, and history lessons. Sessions are Saturday from 11am-2pm at the Sherman Park Fieldhouse. Contact for more information. (Andrew Yang)

Camp DJ
Master Mix Academy, 6701 S. Crandon Ave., Unit 10a. July 25-August 22, 10am-12pm. Ages 8-14. (773)501-6797.

Camp DJ is exactly what it sounds like—a camp that teaches the art of DJing to Chicago-area youth. It teaches both traditional and technological approaches, including analog and digital sound perception. In addition to educating youth on how to use various technologies needed to DJ, the camp also focuses on hands-on exercises and practices, so students learn by doing. The camp will include a workshop on the “History of DJ” as well as one on how to use DJ audio equipment. The final focus of the camp is “DJ 101,” in which students learn how to use time signatures in music transition, cueing, and beat matching and BPMs. To “impact the community one DJ at a time,” Master Mix Academy has created a survey course for kids of how to create an art form that does not seem untouchable. (Lauren Poulson)

United We Drum Summer Percussive Class
Muntu Dance Theater, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. July 11-July 22, Saturdays, 10am-11am. Presentation and family day event July 22, 12pm-4pm. Ages 8 to 17. Ongoing registration (see website). (773)241-6080. $70 for the seven-week program (individual classes are $10 each). Scholarships are also available.

Muntu Dance Theater performs dynamic interpretations of African and African-American dance and music both new and old. This summer, the company continues its commitment to teaching with its percussive camp United We Drum. Master drummers will teach participants how to play instruments such as percussive bells and types of drums from djembe to sangba to kenkeni, but they won’t stop there: students will also learn the history of each drum, why it is played, and what part of the rhythm it carries. After several weeks of creativity, cultural exploration, and fun, the program will culminate with United We Drum Family Saturday at the Logan Center, where participants will present what they’ve learned alongside performances from professional groups such as the musically and ethnically diverse Funkadesi. “This program has definitely piqued my children’s interest in African Drumming,” says parent Terryn Polk. “Both of my boys are experienced with drumming. However, this is their first experience with African Drumming and they have actually found a new love!” (Olivia Stovicek)


Young Chicago Authors Summer Writing Institute
Young Chicago Authors, 1180 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Fl. Monday-Friday, July 20-24, 10am-5pm. Ages 13-19.       

Since it was founded in 1991, Young Chicago Authors has aimed to empower youth to get in touch with themselves through the power of spoken and written word. This year’s summer program will be “Write to the City,” an exploration of the importance of spoken word in Chicago hip-hop and a reflection of working class life and visual arts. Through this programming, the organization hopes to teach youth the importance of their own voice for themselves and society at large, redefining youths’ concepts of who makes art and why. The summer program is augmented by work with professional writers and artists and trips to arts and cultural spaces across Chicago. Ultimately, YCA hopes that the words of the youth they work with can help to break down social barriers and rewrite the world. (Lauren Poulson)

I Am We

I Am We, 8930 S. Muskegon Ave. Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 23-July 30, 10am-12pm. Ages 11-17. Register at $25 registration fee.

With an eye on building community and cohesion throughout Chicago, a group of artists, educators, and anthropologists founded I Am We in 2011 in order to study some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods and understand their needs. As Leticia Thomas, one of the organization’s founders puts it, “I Am We aims to give young people a way to share their experiences and to engage meaningfully with their communities.” This summer, I Am We will offer two programs, both located in Bessemer Park. C.A.K.E.—standing for Communication, Accountability, Knowledge, and Effectiveness—is a journalism program for girls aged eleven to seventeen that focuses on improving communication skills and increasing students’ self-confidence. The program also hopes to connect its students to women leaders from the local community and to educate students about career opportunities. I Am We’s second program, Chicago Voices, caters to all students aged eleven to seventeen, introducing them to advocacy through digital media. According to Thomas, the program intends to develop students’ critical thinking skills by encouraging them to discuss solutions to issues in their communities. C.A.K.E. will take place on Tuesdays from 10am-12 pm, and Chicago Voices will take place on Thursdays from 10am-12 pm. (Peter Gao)

StoryArts Summer Camp

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. June 22-July 3, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. 6th and 7th grade students. Free.

StoryArts Summer Camp is a free, full-day summer camp for Mid-South Side sixth and seventh graders. The program will guide campers through the process of telling stories about themselves and their communities through different artistic mediums. Students will create comics, a short documentary film, and wheat paste mural posters in three project modules, each led by a different Chicago-based teaching artist. Campers will also take a field trip to Pilsen to discuss the role that public art can play in their communities. There will be a final gallery show and celebration for campers and their families at Currency Exchange Café in Washington Park on July 3. Lunch and snacks will be provided every day. (Maira Khwaja)


El Hogar del Niño
El Hogar del Niño, 1710 S. Loomis St. Monday-Friday, June 1-September 4, 7am-6pm. Ages 3-12. (312) 563-0644, ext. 262. . Payment is on a sliding scale based on family income.

El Hogar del Niño, provider of year-round supportive afterschool and preschool programs, brings kids a summer full of education, physical activity, and field trips. With help from an all-bilingual staff, kids will work on skills they’ve learned in school the previous year and begin preparing for the upcoming year. According to Early Childhood Regional Director Leo Ortega, the curriculum is customized based on each student’s needs and strengths. Program attendees also will participate in physical activity using the research-based SPARK physical education program, will spend time in the computer lab, and go on field trips around Chicago. Previous field trips have included the zoo, museums, and local parks. There’s food, too: breakfast, lunch, and snack are included in a full day’s schedule. All kids are accepted, including special needs children, military families, and those who don’t participate in El Hogar del Niño’s afterschool programs. However, call to register ASAP, because spots go fast.(Mari Cohen)

CHA Summer Youth Employment Project
Chicago Housing Authority Summer Youth Employment Project. Ages 16-24. (312)786-6930.

The Chicago Housing Authority is offering the Summer Youth Employment Project through its Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). The program, part of the One Summer Chicago employment initiative, pairs Chicago Housing Authority residents ages sixteen to twenty-four with employers for paid work and enrichment. Partnered employers include neighborhood and community organizations from across Chicago; the full list can be found on the DFSS website. In addition to employment experience, youths receive mentorship from their organization on financial literacy and career development skills such as résumé-building and interviewing. Applications for the program should be submitted online by June 15. Go to the program’s website for more information. (Andrew Yang)

1 Comment

  1. Yes! I am só excited.about All the summer.programs listed
    above. Greetings to All:
    As a single Mother the Hyde Park/ Bronzeville neighborhood, I am excited. For My 3 .Daughters and Grand-Daughter to have the opportunity
    To of these summer. programs
    Especially given this late notice. I’m a self-taught.Drummer myself; -learning to play the bass guitar and I would Love to network with positive-creative. energetic , people who Love to jam.out!From time to time. Until Then; Peace and Love to All.

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