Camp Urban Explorers: Bringing the Joy of Camp Directly to Patients and Families at Lurie Children’s

Every child looks forward to summer break. At Lurie Children’s, we make sure that our patients and families can experience a memorable slice of summer fun, regardless of circumstance. Our hospital-based summer camp program, Camp Urban Explorers, sponsored by Slalom, brings discovery and delight to our patients all summer long through fun and engaging learning opportunities.  

“Many students initially feel disappointed when a hospitalization disrupts their summer plans, but we often hear how Camp Urban Explorers helps these students to feel like they had a fun and worthwhile experience to tell their peers about when they return home,” said Teachers Scott and Katie, who lead Camp Urban Explorers. 

For every week of the summer, Teachers Katie and Scott offer a special theme for campers. Each theme focuses on a different subject area, such as art, STEAM, LGBTQ pride, animals, and magic, to name a few.  

Partnerships with community organizations help bring every theme to life with unique activities. With support from the DuPage Children’s Museum, our patients enjoyed making a Kazoo out of popsicle sticks and rubber bands for a fun auditory sensation during STEAM week. Camp counselors are also eager to share their new and improved magic tricks with campers after taking a course at The Trickery Chicago, a local magic lounge in East Lakeview. 

“The experience helps kids feel like kids and allows them to have a hands-on, authentic camp experience regardless of their environment,” Teachers Scott and Katie said.  

In every activity at Camp Urban Explorers, there is an opportunity for the whole family to make lasting memories.  

“One of my favorite things to see while running Camp Urban Explorers is parents and guardians partaking in the weekly activities with their child,” Teacher Katie said. “It is so special when families have something positive to reflect on when thinking about their hospital experience. Whether they are tying paracord keychains, making Monet-inspired art projects, or building together during the engineering challenge, it is an honor to provide creative and educational fun for families.” 

Community support with Slalom 

In the five years that Slalom has sponsored camp, the tradition has become an annual highlight for employees who volunteer their time and skills to plan the experience. Throughout the duration of summer camp, Slalom team members enjoy receiving weekly camp updates from Teachers Scott and Katie. Many smiles result from sharing these camp updates and their own personal camp experiences with each other, family and friends. 

“No kid should have to go a day without a smile – especially during summertime,” said Anna Volkmann, a Slalom consultant who volunteered with Camp Urban Explorers in previous years. “As a prior patient of Lurie Children’s, I know that these experiences and the extra love that Slalom delivers highlights the compassion and care the Chicago community has for one another.”  

All summer long, our campers and their families feel supported in every opportunity to learn, bond and make memories that long outlast their hospital visit.  

“With so many staff members aware of Camp Urban Explorers and the student's excitement for our weekly visits with new and engaging activities, many campers have mentioned how they don't want to go home until all eight weeks of camp are finished!” Teacher Scott said. 


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