19482428371_1deba0a147_zThis summer Oak Parkers likely saw the distinctive black and neon green BASE Camp t-shirts around town — on bikers, on painters, on map makers, on gardeners, on sailors, on rocket launchers. What’s up with that?

Completing its sixth year, Oak Park Education Foundation’s BASE Camp served more Oak Park area kids than ever — with a broader array of unique camps. Across four weeks, nearly 650 1st-8th grade kids participated in 25 different camps — most in more than one — for a total of 1,123 camp sessions! Over 50 kids attended BASE Camp with a scholarship.

But the number of participants only tells a small part of the BASE Camp story. Kids got singularly rich camp experiences, right in Oak Park. Taught by teachers who are passionate about their subject matter, the camps are so much fun that kids sometimes forget they’re learning. The majority of our instructors are favorite D97 teachers, and the rest are community partners who bring special expertise to our kids.

The 25 unique camps this summer included classic BASE Camps such as LEGO Engineering and LEGO Landmarks, VEX Robotics and Mural Project, and exciting new camps like Clay Animations, REACH Sailing (yes, kids took a bus every day to Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago), Build a Cottage, and Video Game Lab.

A couple of new BASE Camps are notable for their community connection:

  • Guillermo Delgado, BASE Camp teacher, community artist and D97 parent, led his Making Zines campers on a field trip to create their own public art installation on the Home Ave. pedestrian bridge over the 290 expressway!
  • Public Art 101 campers created a Science Mural Tour, both restoring murals from previous years and developing an informative tour on Google’s My Maps. They had a number of local resources come in to teach them about different topics, including Oak Park-based sculptor Margot McMahon about the why and how of public art, and Kim Scata of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust about giving tours. The campers also went to Visit Oak Park to learn about tourism in Oak Park.

It took so many wonderful teachers, youth counselors, volunteers, local businesses, and OPEF staff to make BASE Camp the success it was. We are grateful to them all. We are also grateful for the scholarship donations from generous BASE Camp families and the Rotary Club of Oak Park River Forest. Mostly we are thankful for the families who support this wonderful program, which not only provides quality enrichment for Oak Park area kids, but also helps fund OPEF’s free in-school programs.

Special thanks to:

  • Kristi Braun
  • Linda Carlisle, Oak Park Public Art Advisory Commission
  • John Condne, OPRF High School
  • District 97 staff, esp. at Brooks, Julian and Holmes, and Dr. Kelley
  • Bob & Todd Dressel, Dressel’s Hardware
  • Elizabeth Freeland
  • Handy Paint Pail
  • Paul Goyette
  • Alan Kastle, JC Licht
  • William Langston
  • Jim Lipsey
  • Mark Mazrimas, Lake Theatre
  • Margot McMahon
  • Cam Niederman
  • Oak Park area drivers who were so patient with our Urban Bikers
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Rotary Club of Oak Park River Forest
  • Kim Scata, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust
  • Laura Thompson, Visit Oak Park
  • Wednesday Journal
  • John Wielebnicki, Oak Park Public Works

Full roster of 2015 Summer BASE Camps:

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See pictures from 2015 Summer BASE Camp:

  1. Week 1
  2. Week 2
  3. Week 3
  4. Week 4