The Shedd Aquarium’s Camp Shedd: School's Out program has hands-on activities for kids and will be offered for the next two weeks. Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

“I hope this strike don’t last too long, CPS,” a young mother announces to the bus she’s just flagged down as she shepherds her two school-age sons on board. “Every day they’re not in school they gotta come to work with me.”

A few blocks later, she’s joined by another passenger with a kid in tow who encourages all of us to support the teachers, who she says are underpaid.

“I’m just glad I got a job where my boys can come to work with me and I ain’t gotta scramble for a babysitter,” the first woman announces.

Not everyone is so lucky—or wants to look at their kids all day—and for parents staring down a teachers’ strike that everyone is hoping won’t last long, childcare is suddenly a scramble. 

To fill the gap, organizations and institutions across the city are offering camps, classes, and workshops, though a word of caution: most cost money, and some of them are just for this week. 


Chicago Public Schools

CPS buildings will be open during the strike, staffed by principals and nonunion support staff, and breakfast and lunch will be provided, along with a meal to take home. There won’t be any class instruction, and all after-school activities are canceled. CPS has an interactive map of libraries, parks, and Safe Haven locations where students can go during the day. 

Chicago public libraries and parks

All sites are set to welcome families, but children younger than 11 can’t be left unattended. 

Paid registration required

Camp Shedd: CPS October

Hands-on aquatic animal activities will be open to participants currently enrolled in kindergarten to fifth grade in a Chicago public school. Two weeks, starting Thu 10/17, 8 AM-3 PM Mon-Fri, Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., $100; free aftercare from 3 to 5 PM

Chicago Children’s Theatre drama day camp

Classes for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade will vary every day and include acting, singing, puppet making, choreography, and collaborative storytelling. Thu 10/17 until the strike is over, 9:30 AM to 4 PM, with beforecare starting at 8:15 AM and aftercare from 4 PM to 5:45 PM, $75, with a limited number of $50 scholarships and financial aid available

Emerald City Theatre Musical 101 workshop

A musical theater workshop for ages six through ten. Thu 10/17 to Fri 10/18, 9 AM-3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $50

Old Town School’s Day Off Camp

Music, art, and dance classes for ages six through ten. Currently planned only for October 17, 9 AM-3 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, $90

School’s Out: Film Day Camp at Facets

Kids ages nine to 13 are invited to watch films from Facets’ Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and learn about filmmaking and reviewing. 8:30 AM to 3 PM, Thu 10/17 and Fri 10/18, 1517 W. Fullerton, $20  v