Publish Date
2022 Summer Day Camp runs through August 12.
2022 Summer Day Camp runs through August 12.
Photo: Chicago Park District

The District welcomes 23,000 campers to the parks for the first day of summer fun opportunities  including various day camps, Rollin’ Rec, Night Out in the Parks, swim and water features 

Today, the Chicago Park District celebrates the first day of summer programming by welcoming 23,0000 campers, including 14,000 day camp participants at 189 parks across the city. The District opened 37 neighborhood swimming pools offering most residents access to safe swim options within a two mile radius of their home, as well as 22 beaches and has activated 200 plus water features throughout the park system. Also today, the District’s Rollin’ Rec van will begin making stops at unstaffed park locations delivering fun and engaging activities to young residents and families. Although camp has started, there are still spaces available!

“Summer in the parks is in full swing at the parks,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareno. “We’re so excited to welcome our campers today and have a great experience planned for them all summer. Today, we’re also kicking off our Rollin’ Rec program that brings fun and engaging activities to our parks and opening swimming pools. These opportunities along with our spray features, beach outings and free cultural events offered through our Night Out series are part of the summer tradition for so many families. We encourage residents to enjoy the many opportunities we have available enjoy this season,”  

Under the banner, “Adventure Starts Here”, day campers will enjoy six weeks of activities including sports, fitness, arts and outdoor activities that infuse lessons in community engagement, environmental awareness, inclusion and kindness into the camp experience. In addition to traditional day camp, the District also offers other camp opportunities, including Play Camp for ages 3 to 5, Teen Camp for 13 to 17 year olds and Special Recreation Camp for children with special needs. There are currently 3100 camp slots, including 500 day camp spaces remaining. Camp runs through August 12. Some parks offer an extended camp that runs through August 19. To find out what parks have availability, use the map locator on the District’s website.

Also today, the Park District’s Rollin’ Rec program makes its return this summer to more than 45 park locations across the city. Vans decorated with Park District and Rollin’ Rec logos will be visiting locations without organized programming to bring recreation opportunities to park patrons.  Staff will provide sports, games and fitness activities. All activities are geared toward the entire family, no advanced registration is necessary and participation is free to the public. Most vans visit select parks for 60-minutes twice a week. 

This year, the Chicago Park District will partner with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to offer the Lunch Bus route, which will bring free meals to four Rollin’ Rec sites from Monday to Thursday for 6-weeks. Mealtime runs during the final 30-minutes of the Rollin’ Rec visit at the following park locations: 

⦁    12:00 – 1:00 pm: Back of the Yards Park, 4922 S. Throop St. 
⦁    1:30 – 2:30 pm: La Villita Park, 2800 S. Sacramento Blvd. 
⦁    3:00 – 4:00 pm: Park #500, 730 S. Springfield Ave. 
⦁    4:30 – 5:30 pm: Magnolia Park, 3224 W. Flournoy St.

A brand-new lakefront route is scheduled to visit four sites on Fridays, July 5 through August 12.

The following sites will be visited as part of the Lakefront Park route:

⦁    12:00-1:00 pm: Loyola Park, 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave. 
⦁    1:30- 2:30 pm: Buttercup Park 4901 N. Sheridan Rd.
⦁    3:00-4:00 pm: Northerly Island Park, 1521 S. Linn White Dr. 
⦁    4:30-5:30 pm: Lake Meadows Park, 3117 S. Rhodes Ave. 

A full schedule with exact locations and hours is available at During the last, pre-pandemic year, more than 4,500 children participated in the Rollin’ Rec program.

Last week, the Park District announced its plan to open 37 neighborhood pools across the city, including 15 indoor and 22 outdoor pools based on the number of qualified lifeguards who successfully completed the hiring process. 

To open as many pools as possible, the District has limited access to small portions of North Avenue Beach and Calumet Beach to divert lifeguards to neighborhood pools. In addition, due to ongoing construction, swimming at 12th Street Beach will be prohibited detailing the additional staff to be assigned to pools in communities citywide. The public will see barricades and signage indicating these beach areas are closed.  

Reducing the footprint of North Avenue Beach, at the northern section of the beach, just south of Fullerton Avenue and the small beach at Calumet Park, just north of the Coast Guard station, will lessen the number of lifeguards needed on the lakefront. This measure will allow 23 to 25 guards to be assigned to pools in areas further from the lakefront. 

“We are grateful to the lifeguards who have chosen to work at our Parks – the more guards the more pools we can open.  Like so many park districts and municipalities across the country, we are severely impacted by the national lifeguard shortage,” said Escareno. To provide most residents with access to a pool within a two mile radius of their home, we had to maximize the limited number of lifeguards. We are confident that we have a sound plan that allowed us to open as many pools as possible and continue to recruit lifeguards to provide and possibly increase the availability of these incredibly important resources.”   

Most pools will be open to the public five (5) days a week from 11am to 7pm.  Days of operation will be determined by park hours and staff capacity. Patrons should visit the District’s website or contact the park for pool hours. A total of 21 beaches will remain available for swimming daily through Labor Day from 11am to 7pm. Water quality is tested every day at our beaches with rapid results updated daily.  

Patrons can check the District’s website for water quality and swim status information on the Park District website before heading to the beach.  Please observe the flag notification system at each beach and note that swimming restrictions can change throughout the day based on weather and surf conditions. 

⦁    Green – Swimming is permitted. Weather conditions are fair and water quality is good.

⦁    Yellow – Swimming is permitted, but caution is advised. Weather conditions are unpredictable or bacteria levels are higher than the water quality criteria set by EPA for notifying the public.

⦁    Red – Swimming is not permitted. Weather conditions are dangerous or water quality conditions are dangerous.

Families can also cool off at one of the 200 spray features across the city which are activated and available for public use. Some larger water playgrounds may remain closed if they require a lifeguard to activate, and some water features may be closed if they are under construction for upgrades.

This year, the Park District celebrates a milestone of bringing world class, cultural opportunities to every neighborhood in the city. The 10th annual Night Out in the Parks edition will bring over 700 world-class events, including over 158 movies, 146 dance showcases, 128 musical performances, 120 theater, 71 nature experiences, 22 community festivals, 13 wellness immersions, and numerous holiday-themed events to every one of the city's 77 community areas and in all 50 wards.  More than 120 Chicago-based artists will be involved as part of the family-friendly park event series in 250 parks citywide. Nearly all events are offered with free admission.

Launched in the summer of 2013, Night Out in the Parks is a key component of the Chicago Park District’s citywide vision for art and culture. Park neighborhood activations foster a long-time appreciation for the arts and parks among diverse audiences and continue to create safe spaces for entertainment and educational experiences to thrive throughout the year. 

In the span of a decade, Night Out in the Parks has welcomed over 350 Chicago-based artists to showcase their diverse talents in parks citywide, employed 10,617 artists and crew members, and entertained nearly 1.8 million park visitors during 12,901 cultural events and over 1,500 movie selections in Chicago’s parks. Chicago Park District’s arts and culture team completed over 45,000 hours of on-site work to bring free, accessible cultural events to Chicago’s neighborhoods. Since its inception, Night Out in the Parks has provided thousands of hours of safe, diverse, and unique arts programming with $750,000 in yearly grant support from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

Today also marks the first day of work for many of the District’s seasonal staff including recreation leaders, lifeguards, junior laborers. These roles are instrumental in delivering the quality of park services residents expect. While the majority of the 2100 seasonal positions have been filled, the District is still accepting applications for seasonal lifeguard and laborer positions.  

For more information on summer job opportunities in the parks, including bonuses, check out the District’s Seasonal Jobs Flyer.