BASE Camp

For all kids from any school!

Highlights from summer 2016

Highlights from summer 2016

Enjoy lots of photos and videos from BASE Camp 2016. Share them with your friends!

Read camp details

Read camp details

Learn more about BASE Camp (now over until 2017) via full camp descriptions and teacher bios.

See our FAQs

See our FAQs

Check out our list of frequently asked questions to learn more about OPEF and BASE Camp.

2016 Planning Guide

BASE Camp 2016 Planning Guide

Click on the image at left to see a full-size 2016 Planning Guide or you can print it out. Be sure to print at “fit to page” or at 75% to fit on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper

Read full camp descriptions and more details below.

Note that all camps are located in Oak Park, Illinois.

Summer 2016 BASE Camp Descriptions

Learn more details


1st-2nd Grades
All camps at this grade level are held at Holmes Elementary. Read more about our amazing BASE Camp teachers.

LEGO Pre-Engineering Camp (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $110
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $135

1-wk session  Use LEGO Mechanisms to take on exciting challenges – building machines that carry the most weight, roll the farthest or the fastest! Working in groups or individually, you’ll build vehicles, mini-robots, catapults and contraptions of all sorts. Sketch, design and create small machines, figuring out along the way what works and what doesn’t. Some projects will incorporate instructions to follow while others will be free-form design, bringing out your inner inventor! You may register for multiple sessions; campers can build different machines each session!

Sound Science Camp (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $135

1-wk session  How do your ears hear cicadas, human voices, and kazoos? You’ll get a hands-on exploration of making and hearing sound. Bang on our drums, create and play your own musical instruments, make walkie talkies, build your own ear drum, and take on lots of other cool projects about vibration and sound in music and nature. Content will be the same each session.

LEGO Landmarks Camp (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $110
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $135

1-wk session  Use your creativity and problem-solving skills to construct celebrated natural and man-made wonders using LEGOs! Projects will build on ideas from famous Chicago-area architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Jeanne Gang, and Frank Gehry. Kids will work both individually and in small groups. We’ll document our projects and share them with friends and family at the end of camp. You may register for multiple sessions; campers can build different landmarks each session! Indicate a buddy request as you register if attending with a friend.

Experimentation Station (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $135
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $110

1-wk session  Become the scientist who conducts exciting experiments about the world around us! Investigate all disciplines of science with hands-on investigation of things gooey, strange, stinky, colorful, explosive, surprising and always fun! Campers are encouraged to share their own ideas about the science behind what they observe. You’ll finish camp with a lab book of experiments that can be conducted again at home. You may register for multiple sessions; each session will have some new and some repeated experiments.

Build It! Test It! – Jr Engineers (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $135
Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $110

1-wk session  Plan and carry out your own investigations to solve engineering challenges! Working in teams, you’ll design and build your own bridge and test its strength with toy animals. Construct your own bristle bot and test it in a maze of your own design. We’ll have a friendly competition to see whose straw house can withstand the earthquake on the shake table. Like a real engineer, you’ll have the chance to redesign and retest all your creations. We’ll use a variety of building materials, many likely found your own home. Content will be the same each session.

Fiesta Mexicana (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $135

1-wk session  There’s more to love about Mexico than just its food! Celebrate Mexican arts and culture with a field trip to the colorful and vibrant Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago. Explore Mexico’s native foods — and then make some salsa or guacamole yourself! Learn about beautiful and storied Mexican folk art like retablos and amate paintings and create some gorgeous Latin-inspired masterpieces of your own. ¡Sí, por favor! You may sign up for both sessions; explore different Pilsen landmarks, make different foods and art!

Passport to Creativity (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $135
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $135

1-wk session  Every day you will explore a different part of the world. Find each location on a map, learn greetings in the local language, hear exciting stories from these exotic lands, and create art inspired by your “travels.” Destinations will include Greece, Thailand and more, and each stop earns a stamp in our passports. You’ll also connect with new friends abroad by creating and exchanging videos about our home towns! Content will be the same each session.

Explorers & Map Makers (1st-2nd)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $135
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $110

1-wk session  From treasure maps to scavenger hunt maps — learn all about map reading and map making! Create your own maps to connect people, places and things. We’ll take walking tours in the neighborhood to explore, research and design our maps. Learn how to read maps to find your way from point A to point B. You’ll increase your ability to think and reason visually and spatially, and have fun doing it! Content will be the same each session. Wear comfortable shoes for our daily walks. Parents are welcome to accompany us!

Music Math & Movement (1st-2nd)

Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $110

1-wk session  Move and groove to your own sound! Explore different musical styles, instruments, and some history. Learn about note value, patterns and rhythm using your math skills. Play games that will help you understand musical notes. You’ll create, write and perform your own original music compositions using Finale Notepad, music writing software for iPad. Guest musicians will join our camp one day for a live demo! Content will be the same each session.

Origami Movie Shorts (1st-2nd)

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $110
Week 4  July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $135

1-wk session  Did you know that the word origami comes from the Japanese words “oru” meaning to fold and “kami” meaning paper? In this camp, you’ll work in small teams to make a short film using origami characters! Learn about the Japanese art of paper folding. Create your own origami characters and write a story script, film, and edit a short film making your characters come to life with iMovie and iPads. We will end the week with a film festival for friends and family while enjoying a Japanese snack! You may sign up for both sessions; create a new movie each week!

Steampunk Toys (1st-2nd)

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $110
Week 4  July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $135

1-wk session  Connect with the mechanical fantasy world of steampunk! Explore artsy yet functional contraptions of old and then build your own! You will create one-of-a-kind mechanical contraptions and toys from recycled materials like wheels, pipes, gears, and other recycled odds and ends. Collaborate on ways to improve mechanical design and steampunk style for maximum fun! Show off your cool creation to friends and family. You’re welcome to bring in your own recycled materials to add to ours. Content will be the same each session.

Run Jump Eat! (1st-2nd)

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $110
Week 4  July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $135

1-wk session  The recipe for feeling great is to eat healthy and move more! Play some crazy, fun games and sample yummy fresh fruits and vegetables, keeping active and fueling our bodies. We’ll walk to the Sugar Beet Schoolhouse kitchen garden at Cheney Mansion to identify, sample and harvest garden foods. On another day ride a school bus to feed, milk and care for nearby goats and sample goat milk products. Parents are welcome to join us on our walking field trip! Food sensitivities accommodated. Content will be the same each session. In partnership with Sugar Beet Co-op and Cheney Mansion

Mechanics of Sports (1st-2nd)

Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $135

1-wk session  How do you run fast?…and other fascinating sport science questions! Run races outside and compare notes on why and how we move as we do. Examine the effects of sports on your heart rate, muscles and bones. Analyze and replicate the construction of sports equipment like hockey sticks and footballs to understand their design and performance. Come ready for action!


3rd-5th Grades
All camps at this grade level are held at Holmes Elementary. Read more about our amazing BASE Camp teachers.

LEGO Engineering (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  Take on more sophisticated building challenges using LEGO Motorized Mechanisms, engineering machines that can carry the most weight and climb the steepest hill! Working in groups or individually, you’ll build vehicles, mini-robots, and motorized contraptions of all sorts. Sketch, design and create small machines, figuring out along the way what works and what doesn’t. Some projects will incorporate instructions to follow while others will be free-form design, bringing out your inner inventor! You may register for multiple sessions; campers can build different machines each session!

Coding for Kids (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $115
12:15-2:45 PM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $140
12:15-2:45 PM $140

1-wk session  Learn to code by exploring a variety of different coding sites, including MIT’s Scratch. This camp will provide kids with an opportunity to try out and explore programming and game design. Each child will have the opportunity to explore and create animations and games on sites such as Scratch, building up from wherever their skill level begins. This camp, taught by a D97 technology teacher, will provide kids the opportunity to apply math, problem-solving, critical thinking, reasoning, and computational skills to create digital projects in a fun educational environment. Content will be the same each session.

Science Olympiad (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  By land, by sea, or by air – build a balloon car, a floating boat, or a bottle rocket to learn about the physics of transportation. Work collaboratively in pairs and small groups, and learn about aerodynamics and Newton’s Laws by using air pressure to power your creations. Experience the impact of air resistance and terminal velocity by adding a deployable parachute to your bottle rocket in order to safely bring an “egg-o-naut” back to the ground. Design and build a straw replica of a skyscraper with high structural efficiency capable of supporting a weight. Content will be the same each session.

Brain Builders (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  Ever wonder how thoughts work? Curious about how your brain learns? In this camp, you’ll conduct hands-on experiments and create models to see how emotions like fear, disgust, sadness and happiness affect your brain and biochemistry, and what happens when you get anxious about a test! Find out the brain science behind the sayings ‘monkey see, monkey do,’ ‘practice makes perfect,’ and the idea of a lightbulb as a sign of a great idea. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest neuroscience research, and learn how to help your own brain work its best! Content will be the same each session.

Big House: Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture
(3rd-5th)

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $275

2-wk session  Collaboratively design and construct a large-scale Prairie-style model house complete with art glass light screens and an interior floor plan. Take walking field trips to FLW’s Home and Studio to get inspiration, exploring and observing its design to get ideas for the model. Our model will be big enough to walk through to experience both the interior and exterior, imagining it as a home. At the end of camp, take home your art glass design to share with family and friends. Special note: Participants may be working with X-ACTO knives under adult supervision. In partnership with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Build a Business (3rd-5th)

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $275

2-wk session  Money, money, money — saving, spending and earning it. How can you become a successful entrepreneur to make money? You’ll work in teams to develop a business, conducting focus groups, creating products, and buying and selling to each other. Experiment with what makes a business successful, analyzing profit and loss and supply and demand. Learn about the concept of stocks, looking at real companies, and buying stock in each other’s companies. You will need to be a creative problem-solver to maximize profits!

Critter Science (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $140

1-wk session  Inspect insects, mammals and other living things up close and personal! Analyze and dissect real specimens, learning all about insect parts, animal bones and muscles, a variety of chicken tissues, and lots more. You’ll learn how living organisms are built and what makes them function. Use microscopes for a closer look into the wonders of these small critters. Document your observations in a sketch journal just like a real scientist, and bring it home to continue your adventures. You may register for multiple sessions; each session will have some new and some repeated experiments.

Minecraft (3rd-5th)

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-2:45 PM $140
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-2:45 PM $140

1-wk session  Join fellow campers in a secure Minecraft world for unique design challenges. We will be using teamwork and problem-solving skills to create and read maps, tackle environmental challenges, and virtually explore architecture from different places and times. We’ll create our own adventures, build societies and systems, and plan treasure hunts in the immersive and creative world of Minecraft. Previous experience with Minecraft is helpful, but not necessary. Content will be the same each session.

Gizmos & Whirligigs (3rd-5th)

Week 2 June 27-
July 1
9:00-11:30 AM $140
Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  Create a wide variety of imaginative projects that are useful, whimsical, or just downright silly! Outdoor whirligigs can be put to work in the garden to keep critters from eating your carrots or hung from a tree to make passersby smile. We will repurpose many common household items, transforming them into delightful moveable “objets d’art.” Some of our gadgets will be games to be played during camp. Transform simple materials into irresistibly fun creations that can be enjoyed at camp and at home. You may register for multiple sessions; campers can build different gizmos each session! In partnership with The Little Bits Workshop

Run Jump Eat! (3rd-5th)

Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  The recipe for feeling great is to eat healthy and move more! Play some crazy, fun games and sample yummy fresh fruits and vegetables, keeping active and fueling our bodies. We’ll walk to the Sugar Beet Schoolhouse kitchen garden at Cheney Mansion to identify, sample and harvest garden foods. On another day ride a school bus to feed, milk and care for nearby goats and sample goat milk products. Parents are welcome to join us on our walking field trip! Food sensitivities accommodated. Content will be the same each session. In partnership with Sugar Beet Co-op and Cheney Mansion

Claymation (3rd-5th)

Week 3 July 5-8 9:00-11:30 AM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 9:00-11:30 AM $140

1-wk session  Make an animated movie using clay! Learn how to create an armature (framework), handle the camera, create your storyboard, build your characters from clay and create stop-motion animation. Then we’ll put it all together, making your clay character move so it appears seamlessly animated. Wear only clothes that can be ruined – clay is messy! – and bring simple, recycled materials to create your movie set (more information given during the first day of camp). You may register for multiple sessions; campers can animate different stories each session!

StorySlam (3rd-5th)

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $115
Week 4 July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $140

1-wk session  Has your life ever felt like a movie? In this camp, bring your own true stories to the screen through the art of digital storytelling! Use photography, music, and audio recording to make your stories come to life as a digital narrative! We will play lots of collaborative and interactive games and do activities aimed at stoking the fires of creativity. By the end of the week, you will have created a unique mini-movie that tells a piece of your personal story and can be shared with family and friends. Content will be the same each session.

Music Math & Movement (3rd-5th)

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $115

1-wk session  Move and groove to your own sound! Explore different musical styles, instruments, and some history. Learn about note value, patterns and rhythm using your math skills. Play games that will help you understand musical notes. You’ll create, write and perform your own original music compositions using Finale Notepad, music writing software for iPad. Guest musicians will join our camp one day for a live demo!

Mechanics of Sports (3rd-5th)

Week 4 July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $140

1-wk session  How do you run fast?…and other fascinating sport science questions! Run races outside and compare notes on why and how we move as we do. Examine the effects of sports on your heart rate, muscles and bones. Analyze and replicate the construction of sports equipment like hockey sticks and footballs to understand their design and performance. Come ready for action!


6th-8th Grades
Locations of camps for these grade levels are at Brooks Middle School, Julian Middle School or the Oak Park Public Works Center, as indicated below. Read more about our amazing BASE Camp teachers.

VEX Robotics (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
8:30-11:30 AM $325
Week 3/4 July 5-15 8:30-11:30 AM $300

2-wk session  Learn to design, build, and program remote-controlled robots from scratch. You’ll work in teams, taking on a series of exciting challenges that will build both mechanical and programming skills in creating bots. This is a great opportunity for those with no experience, as well as kids with previous experience, to experiment, learn and have fun! You may register for multiple sessions; you will take on new challenges with each.

VEX Robotics Coding (6th-8th) – Julian

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
8:30-11:30 AM $325
Week 3/4 July 5-15 8:30-11:30 AM $300

2-wk session  Learn to program and compete with pre-built robots. Working in teams, you’ll get a chance to dive into computer programming to bring the bots to life, working on your problem-solving, creative thinking, and computational thinking skills. This is a great opportunity for those with no experience, as well as kids with some previous experience, to develop coding skills and have fun with robots! Content will be the same each session.

VEX Robotics Intensive (6th-8th) – Julian

Week 1-4 June 20-
July 15
8:30-11:30 AM $620

4-wk session  Do you have competitive robotics experience? During this four-week intensive, hands-on camp, you will work with other experienced builders to design, create and program a competition-style robot, testing your bot and programming prowess with scrimmages. This camp is a great opportunity for you to take your technical and teamwork skills to the next level! You need to commit to the full four weeks; you may not join or leave part way through camp.

Computer Circuitry & Arduino (6th-8th) – Julian

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
8:30-11:30 AM $325
Week 3/4 July 5-15 8:30-11:30 AM $300

2-wk session  This camp will introduce you to the power of circuitry and give you the skills to jumpstart your technical endeavors. Progress from learning about basic components and electrical diagrams to building and controlling your own circuits. During the second week, you’ll program Arduino micro-controllers to create more sophisticated projects. You’ll learn skills that will connect you to the large DIY community devoted to Arduino-based projects. No experience required. Content will be the same each session.

Claymation (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1 June 20-24 8:30-11:30 AM $165
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
8:30-11:30 AM $165

1-wk session  Make an animated movie using clay! Learn how to create an armature (framework), handle the camera, create your storyboard, build your characters from clay and create stop-motion animation. Then we’ll put it all together, making your clay character move so it appears seamlessly animated. Wear only clothes that can be ruined – clay is messy! – and bring simple, recycled materials to create your movie set (more information given during the first day of camp). You may register for multiple sessions; campers can animate different stories each session!

Urban Biker (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1/2 June 20-
July 1
12:15-3:15 PM $325
Week 3/4 July 5-15 12:15-3:15 PM $300

2-wk session  On day one you’ll ride 10 miles with this chaperoned group, potentially building up to a fast-moving 26-mile ride on the last day of camp! Practice street navigation and safe group riding in an urban environment, following rules of the road and fixing problems along the way. Learn self-sufficiency, independence and navigation! In addition to exploring Oak Park and River Forest, ride The 606 trail in Chicago, the Salt Creek Trail and stop to see the sights in surrounding communities. Required daily items include a road-ready bike with gears (no dirt bikes) and its spare inner tube, bike lock, helmet, snacks, water bottle and closed-toe shoes. While camp content and destinations may be repeated, campers may register for both sessions. In partnership with Active Transportation Alliance and Greenline Wheels

Grrl Squad (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-3:15 PM $165
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-3:15 PM $165

1-wk session  Attention girls: Are you tired of being told how you should look, what you should care about, and who you should be? Unite with other like-minded girls on a quest to author your own identity, harnessing the power of poetry, fashion, art-making, crafting, blogging, performing, photography, music, journaling, exploring, and inventing! Build positive girl culture and friendships with this collaborative and innovative camp. You may register for multiple sessions, working on different projects and with different media.

Digital Photography (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1 June 20-24 12:15-3:15 PM $165
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
12:15-3:15 PM $165

1-wk session  Discover new ways to look at your everyday surroundings, and learn to capture and share that vision with others. Using an SLR digital camera, practice basics of composition and exposure and apply them to any subject, from people to architecture. Learn how to do simple touch-ups or dramatic manipulations of images with photo editing software, and share photos online. Wear walking shoes for our frequent outings, and we will take one bus field trip to a local point of interest. Kids are encouraged to bring their own SLR cameras (no digital point-and-shoot or smart phones), or rental cameras are available for $25 (select box when registering). Content will be the same each session. In partnership with Paul Goyette Photography

Architectural Drawing: Pleasant Home (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 2 June 27-
July 1
8:30-11:30 AM $165

1-wk session  Guided by a professional architect, you’ll explore, measure, sketch and document the architectural elements of Pleasant Home, one of Oak Park’s great historical landmarks. You’ll take a neighborhood walking tour to compare local architectural styles — Victorian, Prairie, Contemporary. Working in small groups, you’ll collaborate on a final project of detailed sketches that will become part of the permanent Pleasant Home archives! You’ll go home with a sketch pad filled with a collection of your personal work. Wear comfortable walking shoes. In partnership with Pleasant Home Foundation and B3architecture

Music Video (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 3/4 July 5-15 8:30-11:30 AM $300

2-wk session  Join us for this hands-on movie-making camp infused with music! We’ll work solo and in small teams to create your personal 4-minute original film set to music. Collaborate and get creative on the story-board development, scene design and staging. You’ll take turns acting out the story and filming it, working both sides of the camera. Using iMovie software, each member of the team will edit his or her own final cut to take home. A film fest of all works will end the session. Use of your own digital video camera is encouraged (no cell-phone cameras), or you may share camp-provided ones. In partnership with Oak Park River Forest High School

Comics Creator (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 3 July 5-8 8:30-11:30 AM $140
Week 4 July 11-15 8:30-11:30 AM $165

1-wk session  Write and design your own digital comics! Learn about the history of visual storytelling, starting with the classic comic strip, and discuss what makes a compelling character — from super heroes to villains, and everything in between. Create your own characters and write your own storyline. During the week, you’ll use increasingly complex online tools to put it all together and design your own comics. We’ll even have a guest speaker from the comics industry to talk about what it takes to get a comic published! The completed creations will be printed in a colorful comic book form to take home. Content will be the same each session.

Brain Builders (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-3:15 PM $140
Week 4 July 11-15 12:15-3:15 PM $165

1-wk session  Ever wonder how thoughts work? Curious about how your brain learns? In this camp, you’ll conduct hands-on experiments and create models to see how emotions like fear, disgust, sadness and happiness affect your brain and biochemistry, and what happens when you get anxious about a test! Find out the brain science behind the sayings ‘monkey see, monkey do,’ ‘practice makes perfect,’ and the idea of a lightbulb as a sign of a great idea. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest neuroscience research, and learn how to help your own brain work its best! Content will be the same each session.

Minecraft (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 3 July 5-8 12:15-2:45 PM $140
Week 4 July 11-15 12:15-2:45 PM $165

1-wk session  Join fellow campers in a secure Minecraft world for unique design challenges. We will be using teamwork and problem-solving skills to create and read maps, tackle environmental challenges, and virtually explore architecture from different places and times. We’ll create our own adventures, build societies and systems, and plan treasure hunts in the immersive and creative world of Minecraft. Previous experience with Minecraft is helpful, but not necessary. Content will be the same each session.

Urban Architecture: Pleasant Home (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 4 July 11-15 8:30-11:30 AM $165

1-wk session  What does it take to design an urban building? Work with a professional architect to explore the history of the Pleasant Home and take multiple extended walking tours through Oak Park, drawing, photographing and reflecting on what you see. Tour the Rogers Park Montessori School with its architect to see how designs translate into an actual building. Then consider the purpose, environment, site context, and other issues as you design your final project — a structure on the Pleasant Home grounds (Mills Park). The design will be for an open structure with a roof and a deck — the rest is up to you! Wear comfortable walking shoes. In partnership with Pleasant Home Foundation and B3architecture

REACH Sailing (6th-8th) – Brooks

Week 1 June 20-24 8:30-4:30 PM $525
Week 2 June 27-
July 1
8:30-4:30 PM  $525

1-wk session  Learn to sail on Lake Michigan and explore the science, technology, engineering and math that sailors use every day! We’ll take a bus each morning to the Columbia Yacht Club. Using REACH, US Sailing’s STEM education curriculum, answer questions like: How does this boat float? What does geometry have to do with sailing? Does the wind pull or push a sailboat? Half your day will be spent inside the yacht club doing hands-on, sailing-related STEM activities, and the other half out on the lake on a J/22 sailboat, five campers per boat, with a US Sailing-certified instructor. You may register for multiple sessions; content will be different each session. Price includes daily bus transportation to and from Brooks plus lunch and supervision at CYC. In partnership with the Columbia Yacht Club

Mural Project: Megaphone to Smartphone (6th-8th) – Oak Park Public Works Center

Week 4 July 11-15 8:30-3:30 PM $380

1-wk session  Create a colorful and informative mural under the el tracks this summer. Our topic will be the history of telecommunication, from megaphones to smartphones! We’ll look back at inventors like Guglielmo Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell, and learn about communication breakthroughs like the telegraph, fiber optics, cellular networks, i-devices, and more. We’ll dream about the future of telecommunications and make predictions, then design and paint a mural on the topic on the Lombard Ave. underpass in Oak Park. On the last day of camp, friends and family are invited to the unveiling of this 6th installment in the OPEF scientific mural series, which the community will enjoy for years to come. Drop-off and pick-up at the Oak Park Public Works Center. Lunch supervision is included with this camp. In partnership with the Village of Oak Park


Lunch & Extended Camp

Supervised Lunch – Holmes or Brooks

Bring your own lunch! When your child is registered for both a morning and an afternoon camp, Supervised Lunch at camp is included! Just add that selection to your camp online registration form. With Supervised Lunch, kids at Holmes and Brooks bring their own sack lunch and enjoy a little down time together, inside and on the playground, in the care of our friendly staff. After lunch, the afternoon camp fun begins!

Boxed Lunch & Snacks – Holmes, Brooks or Public Works

Week 1 June 20-24 11:30 AM-12:15 PM $30
Week 2 June 27-July 1 11:30 AM-12:15 PM $30
Week 3 July 5-8 11:30 AM-12:15 PM $24
Week 4 July 11-15 11:30 AM-12:15 PM $30

The boxed lunch menu will include a sandwich/wrap, fruit, vegetables, and a bottle of water, plus a morning and afternoon snack. See more information about the currently planned menu. The menu is subject to minor changes and there are no substitutions. The food is prepared by OPRF High School food service group, the vendor for D97 lunches during the school year. Boxed lunch with snacks are sold by the week only and must be prepaid; there will not be extra food on-site for sale. Deadline for ordering is May 13. Contact Lindsay Bruce with questions.

Extended Camp – Holmes only

If your day keeps you busy past 2:45 PM, register your child for our Extended Camp option along with your camp choices in our online form. Available only for children attending afternoon camp at Holmes Elementary, our staff will keep your child safe and engaged with games, books, and crafts in both structured and unstructured play time. You may pick up your child anytime convenient for you before 6:00 PM


BASE Camp Scholarships

BASE Camp Scholarships

OPEF provides camp scholarships to dozens of children every summer. The scholarships are generous but limited. As a policy, only children eligible for the D97 free- or reduced-lunch program qualify for camp scholarships. Families may apply by clicking the scholarship application box found in the online form. Be sure to first read all policy and guideline information there, then select your preferred camps and the application process will be underway!


BASE Camp Teachers

BASE Camp Teachers

Experienced and creative teachers make BASE Camp extra special for kids. We have a blend of beloved District 97 teachers and partnerships with expert community members who bring a passion for their subjects to every camp. Check out the BASE Camp teacher bios.


Register Now

BASE Camp News

Shark Tank winner to encourage BASE Camp entrepreneurs

Anna Stork, co-founder of LuminAID, will be dropping by a few of our summer BASE Camps on June 29 to share her expertise.

Read More

Summer BASE Camp to pilot boxed lunch program

OPEF is piloting a BASE Camp boxed lunch program for kids whose parents welcome the convenience of being able to buy (versus pack) a lunch during camp days.

Read More

Build 4 Good BASE Camp announced for MLK Day 2016

BASE Camp has added a community service twist to its popular MLK Day camps on January 18, 2016. All K-8th kids from any school are invited to register.

Read More

Arboretum Adventures BASE Camp was “brilliant for kids”

Nearly 90 Oak Park area children joined us for Arboretum Adventures, our first ever BASE Camp on the Columbus Day holiday.

Read More

VIEW ALL BASE CAMP NEWS >>

<span style="color:white;">BASE Camp Parent</span>

BASE Camp Parent

“Our daughter had an amazing time this summer... We were so impressed by the teachers, students and materials. We are already looking forward to next summer. Thanks!”

<span style="color:white;">BASE Camp Parent</span>

BASE Camp Parent

“My son had a wonderful experience thanks to the BASE Camp scholarship. And he's starting to understand if he really wants to do something all he has to do is keep trying.”

<span style="color:white;">District 97 Principal</span>

District 97 Principal

“Thank you for showing my daughter the unknown can be fun, exciting, and educational.”

<span style="color:white;">BASE Camp Teacher</span>

BASE Camp Teacher

"We know kids are having a good time when they don't ask what time it is and don't want to go home."

<span style="color:white;">BASE Camp Parent</span>

BASE Camp Parent

"What a great camp on every level! Love it. Fantastic job!"

BASE Camp Administration

Lindsay Bruce

Lindsay Bruce

BASE Camp Director / lbruce@opef.org

Lindsay Bruce joined OPEF in 2015 to help co-lead BASE Camp. In 2016, she was promoted to BASE Camp Director. Lindsay’s background in higher education administration has prepared her well to support BASE Camp’s growing programs. After completing her bachelor’s degree at Tufts University, Lindsay worked in college and high school admissions, connecting families with the right educational environments for their children. Lindsay earned her master’s degree at Harvard, where she studied access and success in education, higher education management and student development. Most recently, she ran the Student Success Center at University of Massachusetts Boston, working to increase graduation rates of STEM students through learning communities, academic support, and peer mentoring.

 Angie Hawkins

Angie Hawkins

BASE Camp Assistant Director / ahawkins@opef.org

Angie Hawkins, a 13-year veteran art teacher, worked primarily at Burnham Elementary School in Cicero. In addition to teaching, she collaborated with colleagues on various committees aimed at using data analysis to increase student achievement and parent involvement. She also brings several summers of experience working in a north suburban park district as a camp coordinator providing a safe and fun outdoor learning environment for children of all age ranges. Angie holds a BFA in Art Education from Michigan State University as well as a Master of Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois. She has been a part of the Oak Park community for four years with her husband and two young children.

Amy Struckmeyer

Amy Struckmeyer

BASE Camp Operations Coordinator / astruckmeyer@opef.org

Amy Struckmeyer, worked in the field of architecture for more than a decade, taking on many design and management roles. She has been active in the Irving PTO, developing and growing their relatively new after-school enrichment program. From programming and establishing a budget to facilitating enrollment and managing day-to-day operations, she was involved in overseeing all aspects of the now thriving program. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle. Amy and her husband, Jim, have lived in Oak Park since 2000. Their two children attend District 97 schools and have enjoyed many BASE Camp experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

More Info about BASE Camp

BASE Camp Summer 2016 Policies
Organizing more than 40 different camps this summer has the BASE Camp team with a lot of information to distribute, expectations to share, and policies to explain. We’ve got everything you need to know so your kids have a great experience. Questions? Contact BASE Camp Director Lindsay Bruce / 617-291-5418).

Who can go to BASE Camp?
BASE Camp is open to any elementary or middle-school student from any school, public or private, in Oak Park, River Forest, Galewood, Forest Park, Berwyn, Riverside, Chicago, and beyond! Have your grandchild or other relations visiting from out of town? They are also welcome to join us at camp!

What makes BASE Camp special?
BASE Camp makes learning fun for kids through hands-on projects that build creative problem-solving skills while connecting kids to their peers and their community. We focus on bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts to life in an engaging, playful atmosphere.

BASE Camp is also the Oak Park Education Foundation’s “innovation incubator,” and we are always looking for ways to improve favorite BASE Camps and devise new camps that make kids and parents say, “Cool!” 

How long has BASE Camp been in operation?
Launched in 2010, BASE Camp originally was designed to make our favorite in-school programs available in the summer, hence the title B.A.S.E., which stands for “Build a Summer Education.” The program has since grown to include a wide variety of stimulating camps, and isn’t just for summer anymore. We offer camps not only for four weeks in June and July, but also on days-off during the school year.

What is the Oak Park Education Foundation?
Founded in 1989, the Oak Park Education Foundation is a privately funded, nonprofit organization that brings artists, architects, scientists, and technology experts into K-8th grade classrooms at every District 97 school. Our professional partners share their passion for learning while conducting hands-on projects with more than 4,100 students each year.

OPEF runs BASE Camp as a way to continue the engaged learning into the summer and on days off from school. BASE Camp is also an important source of funds for OPEF’s free in-school programming for District 97.

Who teaches at BASE Camp?
We have a blend of beloved District 97 teachers and partnerships with expert community members who bring passion for their subjects to the camps. They are supported by mature and fun high school and college-age youth counselors. All BASE Camp staff have had background checks to ensure a safe, positive environment for kids.

Where are your camps held?
We are hosted by District 97 schools for our camps. Some camps simply start at a school, and then campers go to a different location for the camp itself (e.g., bused to sailing camp or walk to mural camp), but pick-up and drop-off typically will be at a D97 school. Many camps offer field trips as a part of the enrichment experience. 

How do you ensure the high quality of your programs?
We conduct extensive surveys of participating parents and teachers immediately after each BASE Camp program ends, and the programs consistently receive high marks. For example, last summer 96% of parent respondents said they are likely or highly likely to recommend BASE Camp to a friend, and 100% of teachers said they were highly likely to recommend BASE Camp to parents and kids.

Are there scholarships available for BASE Camp?
Yes! OPEF is pleased to make a generous but limited number of scholarships available to District 97 students. Contact Lindsay Bruce with questions. Our general scholarship policy is below:

  • Only children eligible for the Oak Park District 97 free or reduced lunch program qualify for BASE Camp scholarships.
  • Parents/guardians will be responsible for a portion of camp cost.
  • Those families requesting scholarships can register online, completing camp selections for their child but not paying their portion of the camp fee right away. They will be contacted and, if approved, camp prices will be adjusted to the scholarship levels.

In addition to scholarships provided by BASE Camp directly, the Oak Park Township offers Financial Assistance Scholarships (FAS) for youth, to assist children in participating in activities and/or programs they are financially unable to access. Learn more here.

Can I donate to the BASE Camp scholarship fund?
Yes, thank you! We are so appreciative of families and community members willing to donate. Your support helps make BASE Camp accessible to more kids who might otherwise not have access to high quality enrichment outside of school hours. Please donate here.

What is the cancellation policy for BASE Camp?
Refunds, less a small fee per camper per session, must be requested at least 14 days before the start of the camp session. No refunds will be issued after that date, but forfeited funds will be converted to a tax-deductible donation to OPEF (provided no services were actually received).

The specific cancellation fee varies based on camp type, so refer to the BASE Camp registration system for specifics.

I have a great BASE Camp idea - how can I share it?
We love great ideas — our best ones come from our teachers, families and community members. Please contact our BASE Camp program coordinators Jenny Roen or Lindsay Bruce. And thanks — your energy and ideas help us create awesome camps!

Can I volunteer for BASE Camp?
Thank you for wanting to share in the magic of BASE Camp. It truly takes a village to make BASE Camp great. We are especially happy to have volunteer photographers, experienced educators, and community resources with something unique to offer our campers (e.g., a scientist to visit a hands-on science camp, a field trip to a local site of interest). Please contact our BASE Camp program coordinators to volunteer. All volunteers are subject to background checks.

What is your food policy at camp?
If your child attends a camp where snacks are provided and they can’t enjoy the snacks due to multiple food allergies or dietary restrictions, parents are welcome to provide snacks and a container specifically for your child. Parents will be notified when snacks will be provided.

We are a nut-free program. Please do not send your child with peanut or tree-nut products for lunch or snack. If a child has special dietary needs due to medication, allergies, illness, or special circumstances, please note these needs in his/her registration form.

Depending on which BASE Camp your child is attending, more details about food at camp will be shared directly with parents/guardians via email.

What is OPEF's tax ID?
If needed for your year-end record keeping, the OPEF tax ID is 36-3488162, and the mailing address is Oak Park Education Foundation, 970 Madison St, Oak Park, IL 60302.

Whom can I contact if my question isn’t answered here?
Please contact our BASE Camp Director Lindsay Bruce with additional questions.