Book It!
From: Gillson Beach or Skokie Lagoons
Price:$ 680
Duration: 9am - 3pm
June 17 - 21, 2019
July 8 - 12, 2019
August 12 - 16, 2019

Or book a Custom Trip

9am - 3pm
Skill Rating:
Van Supported:
Gillson Beach or Skokie Lagoons
$ 680
Minimum Age 9
Included: All water sports related equipment, instruction and supervision.
Not Included: Transportation or personal clothing, equipment, and lunch. Cancellation policy applies.

Introduce your water loving paddlers to the skills, techniques and leadership required to enjoy the excitement of kayaking and SUP. This course will provide campers with the basic skills to tour on our local waterways. Throughout the week your aspiring adventurer will grow to love the magic a paddle through the water can bring! Ages 9 to 14 welcome.


We will meet our campers at the Gillson Park (directions included) kayak launch at 09:00 a.m. each morning unless stated otherwise. Please be sure to arrive on time so that we can get started on our full day of exciting activities! Click here for directions. 

Once everyone has arrived, we’ll start with group games that energize and preapre us for the day. We’ll spend  time on land as we learn about the essential gear and safety guidelines of kayaking and SUP. Once everyone is comfortable with the equipment and safety guidelines, we’ll get on the water!

Throughout the day we’ll apply what we’ve learned on land in the water! We’ll play games that incorporate paddle strokes, rescues, weather reading, swimming, map reading skills, and other essentials of the two paddle sports (kayaking and SUP). To make sure that each camper is getting the most out of his/her Water Week experience, our skilled staff will provide the best learning environment possible.

Our campers will be prepared to be picked up at 3:00 p.m. each afternoon. You will be notified if the time or place of pick-up/drop-off is changed.

The program includes an afternoon visit to Centennial Pool and and a full day at the Skokie Lagoons. 

Monday Meet Gillson Park Kayak Launch
9:00am Meet Time
Confirm paper work/Answer any Parent Questions
Provide Schedule for week
9:30 Introduction/Games/Daily Morning Activity
11:00 Kayak Safety Talk/Outfitting/Paddling
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Paddling Games

Tuesday Meet Gillson Park Kayak Launch
9:00 Games/Daily Morning Activity
9:30 SUP Safety Talk/Outfitting/Paddling
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Paddling Games

Wednesday Meet Gillson Park Kayak Launch
9:00 Games/Daily Morning Activity
9:30 SUP Safety Talk/Outfitting/Paddling 
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Commute to Centennial Park, Wilmette
1:30 Water Park (Centennial Park, Wilmette)
3:00 PICK- UP at Gillson Park

9:00 Games/Daily Morning Activity
9:30 Safety Talk/Outfitting/Paddling/Orientation to Lagoons
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Kayak the Lagoons
3:00 PICK-UP Skokie Lagoons

Friday Meet at Gillson Park Kayak Launch
10:00 Games/Daily Morning Activity
10:30 Kayak or SUP Safety Talk/Outfitting/Paddling
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Kayak/SUP the lake front
3:00 PICK-UP at Gillson Park

** Itinerary subject to change.

Clothing & Equipment:

Day Pack containing . . .

  • 1 Liter Water Bottle (full)
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Change of Dry Clothes
  • Sunscreen Lotion
  • Sunglasses with retaining strap (optional)

When planning for your camp you will need to wear clothes which can get wet, a towel, hat and/or sunglasses, raingear and shoes that can get wet. Flip-flop sandals are not as useful as they will come off in open water. Sport sandals (Tevas, Chacos etc) or an old pair of tennis shoes works well. All participants must wear shoes for the entirety of the program.

In cool weather, a nylon jacket, pants, and synthetic long underwear can all be helpful. Cotton is to be avoided since once wet, it stays very wet and makes you feel colder. Synthetic materials (polypropylene, fleece, etc.) will keep you warm even when they are wet. Come prepared for warm, cold and/or wet weather; we will be paddling rain or shine! If you wear glasses, be sure to have something with you to tie them on, such as Croakies. Some people also like to bring a change of dry clothes for the ride home. In addition please bring any food goodies that you may want to munch on as well as water or juice.

If you have any questions please call our office ahead of time at (847) 256-4409. We look forward to paddling with you!!!

Trips ran or rain or shine! In the event of inclement weather alternative on-land activities will be substituted. 
There are no make-ups for missed days.   

Water Week Camp Parent Manual


Children bicycling to camp must remember to bring a lock to secure their bicycles and inform the director if they will be biking regularly to camp.


The counselors will be greeting the campers at the kayak launch area daily, at the south end of Gillson Park.  Please enter the park via the south entrance off of Sheridan Road and continue to the drop-off/pick-up location.  Please proceed with caution and drive slowly as this is a park road with many small children and their parents.


All personal items (i.e., clothing, swimsuits, towels, backpacks, etc.) brought to camp should be clearly marked with your child’s name.  SQUIRT GUNS, RADIOS AND OTHER TOYS ARE FORBIDDEN FROM BEING BROUGHT TO CAMP.  Camp staff cannot be responsible for broken or lost articles.


Lost and found items will be held at the camp location.


A note must be given to the staff at the start of a camp day if someone other than the usual person or car-pool will be picking your child up or if your child will be picked up earlier than the end of the camp day. Identification may be requested.


To help make this summer enriching for all participants, please discuss the following reminders with your child

■ Speak kindly to others and use appropriate language.

■ Be courteous and remember to say “please” and “thank you.”

■ Respect and listen to staff.  (Let them know if any problems occur.)

■ Be patient with other campers and respect their feelings.

■ Respect the property of fellow campers, staff and the Park District.

■ Treat surrounding park and beach with respect and care.


The Northwest Passage reserves the right to suspend, expel or deny participation in any program, event or facility to any person whose behavior materially interferes with, or disrupts, the quality of those offerings, the enjoyment of them by other participants, or the ability of staff to conduct or manage the activities or facility and will be dealt with in the following manner:

First Incident:            Child will be given a verbal warning.

Second Incident:       Parent will be contacted; Child will be given a written warning that must be signed by parent.

Third Incident:           Child will be given a second warning and a 1-day suspension followed by a parent conference.

Fourth Incident:         Child will be expelled from the program.

If a child engages in behavior which poses a threat or bodily harm to himself/herself or to others, an immediate meeting with the parent/guardian may be called.  If such behavior warrants it, immediate suspension or expulsion may result.


■ Please read your manual carefully and call The Northwest Passage at 847-256-4409 if you have any questions.

■ Emergency forms must be properly filled out and brought in by the first day of camp.

■ Prompt drop-off and pick-up is very important.  Campers get very nervous when they are left to wait.

■ Use extreme caution when driving around the pick-up/drop-off area. Campers will enter cars from the passenger side only.

■ Please be patient during drop-off and pick-up. Follow the line of cars, and we will load and unload as quickly as possible with SAFETY being our #1 priority.

■ Please label all personal belongings (i.e., swimsuit, towel, etc.).  We cannot be responsible for misplaced items, and having items labeled makes them easier to identify and return to their owner. Expensive or sentimental items should be left at home.

■ Notify the Staff if someone else is picking up your child.

■ Medication must be kept by theCampLead Staff.

■ Ask your child how his/her camp day went.  Report any problems immediately to the staff or Keith Heger, Program Director.


If your child takes any medication, you will need to complete a Medication Consent Form (please call or email for form).  This form must be submitted on the first day of camp.  PLEASE NOTE: Medication must be sent to camp in its original container. Please place the original containers in a clear plastic bag and label it with your child’s name. 


If your child develops a contagious illness (i.e., chicken pox, strep, lice, etc.), you must report this to the Program Director

In order to help keep all children healthy, we must insist that no child with a fever of 100o or more, a rash, severe diarrhea, actively runny nose or hacking cough be allowed at camp.  Please keep your child home until all symptoms are gone for 24 hours.  Any child arriving at camp showing signs of illness will be sent home.


If you need any special accommodations for your child to effectively participate in this program please call The Northwest Passage 847-256-4409.  We will discuss your child’s particular needs and work with the staff to make his/her camp experience an enjoyable one.

Campers must be able to swim to participate in all portions of Water Week Camp.


Injury to Camper: In the event of an injury to a camper, basic first aid will begin immediately.  Depending upon the extent of the injury, the staff or Director will notify the parent (or alternate phone number provided on the Emergency Form) after a call to Emergency 911 (Wilmette Fire Department).

Severe Weather: Thunderstorms—Campers will be moved into Lakeview Center until an all clear is given by the Program Director.  Tornados—Campers will be moved to inner corridors of the Lakeview Center until an all clear is given by the Program Director.


■ If your child has any allergies.

■ If your child has any special fears or dislikes.

■ If your child has any special problems or needs, please indicate this information on the enclosed Participant Form.



How do I get there?
We begin each day out of Gillson Beach in Wilmette or the Skokie Lagoons in Winnetka. Click here for directions. 

What's the weather like? What happens in bad weather?
Plan for Chicago summer air temperatures and water temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees. Camp runs rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather or hazardous lake conditions alternative on-land activities will be substituted. In the event of severe weather the Wilmette Park District Lakeview center acts as our shelter. Click here for the Wilmette Park District weather station. 

What do I need to bring?
We will send you a detailed gear list upon registration. Please browse our equipment list on the Planning tab. 

How can people reach me in an emergency?
The instructors will be carrying cell phones and marine radios along with each campers contact information.

What kind of equipment do you use?
We use rotomolded single and double plastic sea kayaks and fiberglass and plastic stand-up paddle boards.  Some of the keys to campers enjoyment and skill development is specifically sized equipment. Our kid specific fleet of kayaks, SUP boards, paddles and lifejackets makes for a safe and manageable learning environment. Campers wear lifejackets at all times during camp.  

How many campers are in the camp? How many instructors? 
Camp enrollment is limited to 15. Depending on enrollment there will be 2 to 4 instructors with a maximum ratio of 5 campers to 1 instructor. Our instructors are certified in Wilderness First Aid, CPR and Life Guarding. Our lead staff are BCU or ACA certified kayak and SUP instructors.

Do campers need prior experience?
No prior experience or conditioning is necessary for this camp.

Do campers need to know how to swim?
Yes, all campers are expected to demonstrate their swimming ability. Campers wear lifejackets at all times during camp.  

What if we miss a class?
There are no make-ups nor do we pro-rate for missed days. Thank you for your understanding and please be familiar with our cancellation policy prior to registration. Click here for our cancellation policy.