Girls Play Strong. It’s so much more than sports.

March 20, 2023

“Girls playing sports is not about winning gold medals. It’s about self-esteem, learning to compete, and learning how hard you have to work in order to achieve your goals.”

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, track and field athlete

This summer, girls in grades 3–6 have a unique opportunity to gain confidence, make friends, and get stronger both physically and mentally at one of the best sports camps in Illinois. And it’s right in your backyard.

Girls Play Strong, at the Park District of Highland Park, is a one-of-a-kind camp that teaches everything you would expect: fundamentals, rules, skills, and techniques for a wide variety of

sports. And while everyone is having fun playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, softball, and basketball (along with some non-traditional sports), the counselors are also instilling life lessons that last well past the end of summer.

“Our motto is “Embrace Your Strength,” said Recreation Supervisor Stephanie Sylvester, and when you talk with her about Girls Play Strong be prepared for how serious she is about having turned what was a simple summer sports camp into something that resonates with girls all year.

“I focused on girls in grades 3–6 because that’s the time they are developing leadership skills,” said Sylvester, “and I wanted the Park District to be in the forefront of building strong, powerful, confident women.”

So in addition to all of the health benefits of playing outdoors and gaining physical strength, the girls learn good sportsmanship, the value of teamwork, and empathy. Critical life skills. They are also taught about how important it is to give back. To contribute to our community by being a part of events throughout the year, including last year’s Thanksgiving Food Drive for At-Risk Kids.

But what about just having fun? No problem! Campers go swimming once each week at Hidden Cove AquaPark or the beautiful Rosewood Beach. They go canoeing, play flag football, learn archery, and take a whack at pickleball—America’s fastest-growing sport! Each camp session includes weekly trips to great local adventure and entertainment venues like Action Territory and Main Event, and pro sporting events like the Chicago Dogs.

Having fun also becomes inspirational when girls go to a Chicago Sky game and see a whole court full of empowered women athletes. The experience is awesome.

Make lasting friendships, build confidence, gain leadership skills, and learn to Play Strong. Does this camp sound like it’s right for the girls in your life? We bet it does!