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They say variety is the spice of life.
It can also be an important factor when it comes to selecting a camp as evidenced by the number of different vendors at the sixth annual 22nd Century Media Camp Expo, held Saturday, Feb. 22, at Northbrook Court.
The event, sponsored by Lake Forest’s Banner Day Camp as well as Glenview’s Sports & Ortho Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, offered more than 50 camps from across the Midwest region and beyond.
“We had the most attendees ever for this event. There’s definitely something for everybody,” said Heather Warthen, chief events officer of 22nd Century Media. “We offer sports camps. We’ve seen an uptick in STEM camps. There are a lot of art camps. It’s really nice to have that variety.”
22nd Century Media is the parent company of The Wilmette Beacon.
The 22CM Camp Expo gives businesses a chance to meet potential camp attendees and for a handful of children-focused local businesses to connect with camping families. The event features a variety of camps from day camps and overnight camps to sports camps and arts camps, as well as interactive activities for children and teens.
“Summer will be here before you know it. We always hold this near the end of February to give parents some options for what to do with their kids in the summer, but also year-round,” Warthen said. “It’s a great one-stop shop as one of the attendees said.”
The first 200 attendees received a free drawstring backpack, courtesy of Sports & Ortho Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. There was also a free photo booth, courtesy of PlayGround Games. In addition, free face painting and a balloon artist were also in attendance.
Ryan Callahan, of Lake Forest’s Banner Day Camp, met with expo attendees at his booth and walked them through all the camp’s offerings.
“We have a ton of different activities. We swim every day. We feed them lunch,” Callahan said of his camp, which offers programming for children between the ages of 3 and 12. “We have a door-to-door bus service. Parents have been enjoying hearing information about the camp.”
A popular option among young people for camps are those that offer music instruction like School of Rock, which will open in Northbrook in April, and Glenview’s Twelve Tone Music School.
“All of my kids play instruments,” said Han Qi, of Wilmette, who was shopping around with her daughter, Shannon, a student at Wilmette Junior High School. “We thought this might be a fit for us.”
John Lonergan, owner of Twelve Tone Music School, was appreciative of the foot traffic that the expo provided for his business.
“What’s unique about us is we try to pair the instrument together with the campers. We do learn popular songs, but one of our focuses is teaching kids the skills they need to make their own music,” Lonergan said. “We try to work on having them jam together.”
The Foss Swim School, located in Highland Park, teaches children as young as 6 months to appreciate swimming and water while also being safe. The school offers two camping options in the summer — two-week and four-week.
“We teach the kids the importance of laughter. Once they’re able to have fun and let their guards down a little bit, they’re able to build confidence,” said Steve Ott, school director.
The Baker Demonstration School is a nationally recognized private school in Wilmette. With their presence at the expo, school representatives were looking to bring awareness to the camps Baker offers.
“We’re currently a small camp looking to grow some more. Our camp is taught by Baker teachers and staff,” said Rachel Chase, middle school physical education teacher at Baker. “Each week, there’s a different theme for our preK through eighth-grade students.”
Attendees Steven and Iris Tran, of Lake Forest were looking for sports camp options for their boys, ages 4 and 7. They inquired about the American Youth Soccer Organization, servicing players in Winnetka and Glencoe.
“Playing soccer is something I did growing up, so this camp could work for my sons,” Steven Han said. “We’ve also got a nephew visiting this summer from France, so we’re checking into overnight camps.”
To learn more about the 22nd Century Media Camp Expo, and to see a full list of vendors and participants, visit camp.22ndcenturymedia.com.