How Chicagoland Families are Feeling about Summer Camps 2020

A huge thank you to everyone who filled out our summer camp survey. This will be so helpful to our local summer camps as they are planning how to handle summer 2020. We thought it would also be helpful for families to see how everyone else is feeling, so please see the comments below. We have not included any names to protect anonymity. As summer camps make decisions, we will be updating our Summer Camp Guide so you can get real-time updates.

There were 454 responses to the survey, collected from April 29 – May 3, 2020. Please keep in mind that people could choose multiple answers, so the percentages will not total 100.

Summer Camp Survey Results to the Question: “How are you feeling about summer camps this year?”

43.4% said that they already signed up for summer camps and are waiting to hear updates.

26.2% said virtual camps defeat the purpose of camp for their family.

26% are waiting to see what happens and will sign their kids up later.

20.3% said that if there is a clear refund policy, they would love to sign up for camps right now.

18.3% said they are skipping summer camps this year.

16.5% said “Give me camp info! My kids need camp even more because they have missed out on so much already.”

13.2% will only sign up for camps if there are modified procedures, such as limited number of kids, masks required, and/or body temperatures taken daily.

12.8% are doing camps because they need summer camps to happen June through August for childcare.

9.5% are avoiding camps in June, but will maybe sign up for July.

9.5% said their family is interested in 1-2 hour virtual classes in lieu of in-person camps.

6.2% said their family is interested in weeklong virtual camps in lieu of in-person camps.

2.6% would feel more comfortable with small camps run out of a home-based studio.

“Other” Write-in Multiple Choice Answers

“I need more data, and absolute flexibility.”

“I signed up but hoping that there are modifications or I’ll request a refund”

“Signed up but most likely canceling”

“I signed up for camp earlier this year but I am having serious second thoughts about sending my kids, if camps run. It is a tough decision because camp is an important part of their development! I hope I can get my money back.”

“The June camps we signed up for have already been cancelled”

“We were signed up for multiple camps (day & resident) only to have them all cancelled for the entire summer :(“

“I am interested in camp if it is a shorter day (since activities are likely limited) and a reduced rate”

“Our summer camp with Northwestern has already been cancelled”

“Signed up in March. ADA camp. They’ve canceled”

“I’ve signed up for one week, that I know has refunds a couple weeks beforehand. Don’t want to sign up for any more weeks because of uncertainty”

“We were signed up for camps that have already canceled”

“We signed up for camp before the pandemic. Hoping for a refund. Camp is not worth risk of illness for our family.”

“Both my kids are in Extended School Year due to their special needs– so while we don’t do camps, i am very concerned whether our planned schedule will be taking place. All the other parents will be off the hook from academics and e-learning and my husband and my employers don’t understand the obligations we will continue to have as parents of special needs kids.”

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Most Common Response Combinations

The bulk of the responders chose one of the multiple choice answers and submitted the survey, but here are the most common response combinations that people selected.

Additional Comments

“We signed my son up in February so waiting to hear if its canceled.”

“I am really worried about people rushing out to get together even though I love activities as the more others gather the more I’ll feel we need to isolate”

“We signed up well before this happened. We are debating requesting a refund even if they do open with modifications. I do not see how they could effectively have camp for 200+ kids and keep them safe.”

“Hope they still happen!”

“I’ve never signed my kids up for summer camp but I would do it this year if offered because they need that time with other kids and structure that they’ve been missing.”

“Likely skipping all camps this year but will see how this plays out in next month.”

“Kids NEED normalcy and to be around other kiddos!! Crossing our fingers we can still attend planned camps :)”

“I wish camps would make a definitive decision right now or at least be more transparent with their thought processes. For example: what would need to happen to open? I wish they would say that vs. the information we’re getting which is basically ‘we’re waiting and seeing'”

“If I hadn’t signed up already I would not feel comfortable signing up at all and am considering just canceling. I don’t know how social distancing or masks will be possible for a three year old.”

“The Darien Park district has already canceled all their summer camp programs”

“We have a daycare based camps and desperately need it. I feel safer with the kids there then with a sitter”

“We are both essential workers so feel both the need but then the risk of us sending our kids when we are exposed and our kids being exposed and not being able to work. We also do not understand how it would be possible as our current jobs cant keep up with cleaning and sanitation supplies for our job, how are we going to be able to clean and sanitize more businesses? We really wish they’d be canceled and refunded this year but if not I guess our kiddo may have to go to BSA camp we already paid 450 for?”

“I signed up in February so I’m waiting to see. I honestly don’t think they’ll happen though. My only hope is a theatre camp in August.”

“As my kids are small (5yrs and 3yrs) summer camp is an extension of daycare (our family have both parents working). Short virtual classes work ok for 5 yr old if she knows the kids and teacher but wouldn’t work for a ‘new’ summer camp where she doesn’t know anyone. Virtual classes don’t work for 2-3 yr old group.”

“Please share the results, curious of how parents are deciding”

“All of our summer camps have already been cancelled. Just received an email tonight that the swim camp at Northwestern University was cancelled for my daughter. So sad, but I get it 😢”

“This has gone on long enough. There better be camp this summer.”

“We did sign up for a baking camp in July but will cancel if necessary”

“I need camps for childcare but will follow the state’s guidance (and may be even stricter than that!)”

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“Both Brookfield Zoo Camp and Girl Scout camp have contacted me this week canceling all summer programs. Highlands school district has also cancelled summer programming.”

“I personally hope my summer camp is cancelled and refunded. Even when the shelter in place order is lifted, large gatherings will still not be allowed. I plan to keep my 3 kids home and safe for a very long time.”

“Also really interested in how pools will open/what their policies will be for summer!”

“Do not think it will be safe for camps to happen this summer.”

“Because I run the camps I depend on camps for my kids. If we were to be home still and not need camp I would love virtual options to give me some free time.”

“I’m having a baby at the end of May and do not feel comfortable sending my 3 year old to camp(s).”

“We are signed up for camp but do not see us following through at this point.”

“After E-learning, I’m over all things virtual for my kids this summer. We will either do in person camps, if offered, or nothing.”

“It would be irresponsible for anyone to host a summer camp if schools have been cancelled (country-wide) this year.”

“We were signed up for camp but had to hire a nanny and cancel camp because of the uncertainty of camp happening this summer and we need reliable childcare. Unable to wait until a week before to try to scramble and find care”

“We feel it’s too soon to be around people this summer. Virtual camps (maybe like the St Louis Zoo daily chats or the Brookfield Zoo daily chats on Facebook) would be a good idea. Especially if they provide a way to do things hands-on at home.”

“I had my son signed up for 2 camps. Brookfield has already canceled.”

“I would do maybe a small class, like art class or sports class with a small number of children. Even better if it was outdoors.”

“If the camps do open, I am apprehensive about sending the boys.”

“We love my girls’ summer camp and they cannot wait to go back! I know Westmont Yard will do everything they can to protect our children!”

“Until there is a vaccine I will not feel comfortable sending my kids anywhere. Too many uncertainties at this time.”

“Great question”

“I’m unsure of how camps can operate safely this summer. I don’t plan on letting my kids go to anything in June. I wish all organizations would make a unified decision to cancel with refunds, or postpone until August at the very least.”

“I’m afraid they’ll all be canceled, but we would LOVE for our kids to go to anything they can. For their mental and physical health and so my husband and I can work. We’re lucky to have flexible jobs that we can do from home, but we need the daytime to work and our young kindergarten/preschool girls need to get out for a few hours! We’ll send them if camps are open.”

“We would rely on camps for childcare, but with all the uncertainty, including whether or not when or if I’ll have a job to go back to, we may not need/afford them afterall.”

“If there is a clear refund policy, I may sign up now. I would hate to pay, have the camp continue in a manner I felt was unsafe or unsuited for my child such as virtual camp, and be unable to get money refunded. Most camps refund if cancelled by camp but not if cancelled by parents. Also, money is tight so to pay now when it seems unlikely to happen is also tough even if it is refunded later. But I would love camp to happen. My child loves day camp. It is so difficult to plan as a family that I can understand how it is 100x more difficult for camps to plan as well.”

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“My daughter is probably too young for camps, but if she were school age we’d definitely be going to camp if it’s available. If I could get a full refund if the camp were scaled back or canceled we would have signed up already.”

“We would maybe do a camp with modified procedures in July of it were just outdoors following distancing.”

“Mostly wait and see. A lot can change by summer. I signed up for some in February but waiting to sign up for others.”

“It’s hard to say now. I might consider camps later in summer, end of July/Aug. Only if it’s smaller and managed well with procedures in place.”

“Let’s keep everyone safe for this Summer so we can get these kids back to school this Fall!”

“Our kids miss their friends. They need some social interaction and I am hoping camps can find a responsible way to open.”

“We won’t be doing in-person camps, but would be very interested in virtual camps of different styles and lengths.”

“The kids definitely need some things to do – whether in person or virtual. But safety is paramount so it will all depend. There are some things I would love to sign up for. I just am not sure yet what is happening.”

“No way I’m sending my kids to a group camp”

“My oldest was going to sleep away camp through the Girl Scouts. They have canceled all in person programming until August. I also can not see a situation where I feel comfortable dropping my kids anywhere right now when everyone is required to wear masks.”

“I would love for my kids to have interaction with others, but would feel better if they can keep group sizes smaller than they would normally do and figure out how to do things like field trips (maybe bringing people in vs. kids going out).”

“Though it would be challenging, I’m ok not having my children attend camps this year if that is what is recommended by the CDC or other public health officials. For those of us who can afford to have our children home (we can work from home or have childcare come into the home), I’m ok with forgoing camp if that would help reduce the spread of covid-19.”

“My daughter is really wanting to do the cosplay camp again – our fingers are crossed for that”

Thanks again for sharing your opinions and giving feedback!

The survey has been closed, but the original call for responses is below for your reference.

Important! Share Your Thoughts About Summer Camp This Year

We need your feedback! As the Kidlist Team is planning summer content and summer camps are making decisions, it would be helpful for all of you to weigh in on what your plans are and how you are feeling about summer camps this year. We know things can change, but please answer honestly with your thoughts at the moment.

Thanks for filling out this one-question survey:

Thank you!

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

1 Comment on "How Chicagoland Families are Feeling about Summer Camps 2020"

  1. THANK YOU ANNIE for doing this and collecting and sharing this data. It is INVALUABLE!

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