Schools Out! Low-Cost Activities for Your Kids

Families have been through a lot in recent years. Between economic strains and helping their kids adjust to regular classes, summer can sneak up on a busy parent. For some, it will be the first summer in years they feel comfortable sending their little ones to camp or classes outside of school. Others will be planning their first post-pandemic road trip.

If you feel overwhelmed over what to do with your school-age children, you are not alone. Just don’t assume you need to spend a lot of your hard-earned dollars on summer activities to occupy your youngsters or teens. Here in the Midwest, there are countless opportunities and resources for families seeking affordable activities for their kids. A bit of online research will show you that, if anything, the hard part as a parent may be sorting through the options to find what works best for you.

Check Out Affordable (and Educational) Midwestern Summer Camps

Looking for a structured program you can bring your child to – perhaps something fun but also educational? If you do a little digging, you’ll find day camps (and some overnight ones) that are targeted at families on small budgets. Check out the database for Illinois Kids Camps online to get a sense of the diverse array of what’s out there. Some offer afternoon hikes and evening campfires; others provide free coding classes for your blossoming future engineer. Some affordable examples include:

  • After School Matters
  • Cook County Forest Preserve
  • YMCA
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago
  • SkyART Studio

Visit Family-Friendly Natural Attractions in Illinois

The state of Illinois is chock-full of beautiful forest preserves, beaches and scenic drives. Plan a day trip to one of the many nearby attractions Illinois has to offer. Three popular destinations are:

  1. Illinois Beach State Park – Like many family beaches in Illinois, Illinois Beach State Park is ideal for swimming and checking out the wildlife, greenery and marshes.
  2. Starved Rock State Park – Looking for outdoor activities for outdoorsy families with kids of all ages? At Starved Rock State Park, you can enjoy fun hikes, scenic views and canyons. Ask about their family-friendly programs and animal encounters.
  3. Lakefront Trails – Chicago’s lakefront trail provides views and activities along 18 miles of Lake Michigan. Four-wheel surrey bikes, kids bicycles and tandems are all available to rent. Stop and grab a drink at one of the many snack bars along the way. For a longer ride, head to the Fox River Bike Trail, a 40-mile long path about an hour outside of Chicago. Your children will love the towns, parks, and historic rail lines. Anyone can appreciate the change of scenery: from nature preserves to fun festivals happening along the trail.

Cool Off at Chicago-Area Water Playgrounds and Spraygrounds

No need to jimmy open a fire hydrant or head to a fancy, overpriced water park (although, if that’s your jam, have at it!). The Chicago area boasts dozens of parks that let your youngsters cool off with the help of fun splash pads, sprinklers and sprayers among standard playground equipment. Even Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain attracts families each summer, whose kids love to play in the spray it provides. Various park admissions range from low-cost to free.

Teach Children about Personal Finance at Home (with the Help of CCEA)

Summer is for relaxing and having fun. But there’s no reason it can’t also be a time for reviewing skills or learning new ones. Research shows kids tend to lose some of their educational gains in the summer – also, that getting a base financial education early on is tied to success later in life.

With that in mind, take a moment to involve them in your budgeting and other money-related activities. Even the little ones can learn basic math and finance skills as they watch you pay bills, count your coins or cash a check. Communication Currency Exchanges (CCEAs) throughout the Midwest are the perfect places to give a little financial education 101 to your kids, considering the myriad services provided. Stop by to:

  • Cash a check
  • Make photocopies
  • Pay a Bill Electronically
  • Or load up your Ventra Card

And you’ll see the countless other offerings we provide!

Helping your kids become financially educated is simpler than it seems. Your nearby CCEA will have loads of information and services to help you make fiscally wise choices for the whole family. Stop by your nearest location this summer and take advantage of our many convenient and reliable services.

Two kids swimming.

With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.