Lyman Woods, 901 31st Street, Downers Grove

Young adventurers can spend their summer at Lyman Woods engaging in outdoor explorations and connecting with nature. Led by our team of naturalists, counselors, and volunteers, children will spend time outdoors playing, exploring, and making new friends. Each week is an exciting new adventure with new games, crafts, experiments and explorations. Sign up for the weeks that spark your child's interest, or choose all for a fun-filled Summer! Our traditional nature camps are half-day options only. Check out our new All Day Nature Camp option if you need a full day of camp. Camp fee includes camp T-shirt. Need Before or after care? Check out our Before Care and After Care options. Campers are responsible for bringing their own mid-camp snack and a lunch for full day campers. No camp on Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. All participants must be fully potty-trained and independent with bathroom needs.


  • Registration begins March 13 at 9:00am for Park District residents and March 20 at 9:00am for non-residents! Registration deadline is the Wednesday prior to a camp session week or until the camp fills to the maximum number of participants.
  • Waitlists will not be available for Nature Camps. If you do not get a spot in your preferred camp, please check online regularly to see if a spot has become available.

friend request form

Friend requests will only be considered if the Friend Request Form is completed online and submitted by the Wednesday prior to a camp session. Friend requests are not guaranteed. Recreation Supervisors have the final determination in camp group formations.

2023 Nature Summer Camp Parent manual

Nature Camp Parent Manual 2023


Parents will receive a "Welcome to Camp" email by May 26, 2023 with general camp information including what to wear to camp, what to bring to camp and camp policies. Please note, snacks and lunches are not provided at any camp. Following the initial communication, each camp will be emailed no later than the Friday prior to each session with specific camp information for the upcoming week.

Participant Information/Emergency forms

  • The Downers Grove Park District utilizes ePACT for camper information/emergency forms.
  • If you do not have an ePACT account, within 24 hours of your camp registration, you should receive an email from ePACT to set up an account and complete your emergency forms.
  • If you were enrolled in Summer Camp in 2022 or another program that utilized ePACT, you do not need to fill out new forms. You need to review the information to make sure it is accurate before the start of a camp session.
  • All forms must be completed prior to a camp session beginning in order for your camper to attend.

What to bring to camp each day

  • Backpack
  • Change of clothes
  • 1 snack (Teen Wilderness Explorers and Full Day campers will need 2 snacks)
  • Teen Wilderness Explorers and Full Day camp only - will need a lunch
  • Filled re-fillable water bottle
  • Sunscreen (arrive already applied - sunscreen is for re-applying)
  • Insect Repellant (arrive already applied)
  • For Lyman Woods camps, we strongly recommend wearing or bringing a hat

What to wear to camp each day

  • Comfortable clothing that can get messy/wet/muddy
  • Closed toed shoes/boots with socks
  • Sunscreen


Cancellation/refund requests must be submitted at least 5 days prior to the start of a camp session in order to receive a full refund minus $5. Any cancellation requests received within 5 days of a camp session beginning will only be approved if accompanied by a doctor's note due to a medical reason and will be subject to a $10 cancellation fee. Self-cancellation prior to the deadline can be done online through your account or you can visit to complete a refund request form. No refunds will be given for missed camp days unless cancelled by the park district.

financial assistance program

In an effort to provide recreation, health and wellness opportunities to all residents, including those who are experiencing financial hardships, the Downers Grove Park District has established a Financial Assistance Program. Participants must reside within the boundaries of the Downers Grove Park District to be eligible. For eligibility requirements or to donate to the Financial Assistance Program, please visit


pre-k to kindergarten



Scoots & Scales, June 12 - 16: Learn about the reptiles that call Lyman Woods home! Explore all of their special features as we meet some nature center animals, play games, and hike around Lyman Woods.

Extreme Animals, June 19 - 23: The animals that live in the desert and the arctic have adapted to survive in extreme weather. This week you'll learn about those adaptations, work your way through challenges, and play extreme games!

Diggin' Dinos, June 26 - 30: Who doesn't love Dinosaurs and fossils? Get excited to dig for fossils, make our own, and learn all about dinosaurs.

Space Explorers, July 10 - 14: Have you ever wondered what astronauts do? Or how many stars are in the sky? We are going to try and answers those questions and more during our space week at Lyman Woods.

Curious Critters, July 17 - 21: All animals have differences, so let's explore the truly curious, weird, and unique in the animal world! Who has more than one heart? What can change color? Come find out!

Under the Sea, July 24 - 28: Are you ready to dive into the underwater world? This week you can discover the amazing things that live underwater with fishing, pond dipping, and water games.

Furry Friends, July 31 - August 4: Let's learn all about our furry mammal friends that live around Lyman Woods and beyond. From coyotes to chipmunks, explore some of your favorites by looking at pelts, bones, tracks, and more!

Jungle Adventure, August 7 - 11: It's a jungle out there, and this week it will be one at Lyman Woods too! We will bring the jungle to life through activities that test your skills to climb like a monkey, stomp like an elephant, and roar like a lion!


Creek Week, June 12 - 16: Dive into local water ways! We'll explore our creeks and other water features around the park and preserve as we learn to use waders and other water exploration tools.

Flower Shower, June 19 - 23: Experience the beauty and wonder of flowers! We'll hunt for fascinating flowers and other cool plants that grow in the woodland. Be ready to play games and do activities that will spark interest in the botanic world.

Paws & Claws, June 26 - 30: Coyotes, muskrats and deer, oh my! Discover the furry animals that call Lyman Woods home. Learn what makes a mammal a mammal by examining furs, skulls and other biofacts. Follow animal tracks, and learn how to identify critters by their scat!

Red, White, & Bluebirds, July 5 - 7 (Full Day Camp Only): In honor of 4th of July Week, we will be search the forest for colorful birds. Do you know what birds look for in a home? Let's learn what can attract them to your own backyard!

Dark, Dank, & Dead, July 10 - 14: Explore the amazing world of decomposition and regeneration in nature! We'll learn about the importance of mushrooms and how living matter decays and gets recycled into new life!

Bug Out, July 17 - 21: Hunt through the fields, woods and wetlands for the tiny but cool creatures we call insects! Take a closer look to find out if they are truly insects or insect imposters. Plan to have some buggy fun with nets, bug jars and magnifiers as you search for 6-legged critters!

Stinky, Slimy Science, July 24 - 28: Plan to get messy during this camp focused on the stinky, slimy side of nature! Turn over logs looking for slugs and snails, dip into the wetlands to find frogs and leeches, and prowl the trails searching for animal scat!

Muddy Sneakers, July 31 - August 4: Come get as messy and muddy as you want this week! Each day will be a new adventure as we investigate and discover creatures that live in the mud and dirt. We'll also do some gardening, learn about compost, and of course play in the mud! Make sure to bring extra clothes with you this week!

Nature Spies, August 7 - 11: Your mission: to unearth the secrets of the planet! Using investigative tools, we'll solve riddles and study the spy skills of the animal world, from camouflage to stealthy stalking.

Habitat Heroes, August 14 - 18 (Full Day Camp Only): Learn how to build inviting habitats to observe and help wildlife! Whether making cozy spaces for tree frogs or cultivating native gardens for butterflies and bees, we'll explore a wide range of science-based practices in natural area restoration in a hands-on week of field work and forest fun.

new! all-day nature camp: 1st - 5th grade

Welcome to All-Day Fun and Adventure! This all-day version of our popular Lyman Woods' nature camps will be open to campers entering 1st-5th grade in the Fall. All Day Nature Camp will be hosted at Gilbert Park/Maple Grove Forest Preserve, along with our Teen Wilderness Explorers. Limited spots available. Groups may be mixed-aged, depending on enrollment. Campers should bring a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack as well as a packed lunch from home. No camp July 3rd or 4th.

NEW! specialty nature camps

In 2023, Lyman Woods is offering 3-day specialty camps. These camps are designed to help your camper become immersed in a unique topic, learn a special skills from an expert counselor, and engage in a smaller, more personalized camp setting. Please note that we offer half-day specialty camps only and you will not be able to register for both AM and PM sessions in the same week.


Fairies & Fairytales, July 5 - 7: Experience the magic of Lyman Woods as we create our very own Fairy woods! We will be playing fairytale themed games and creating take home projects. Help us transform our East Wild Woods into a fairy village!

Animal Heroes, August 14 - 16: Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? This is your chance! You are going to create your very own superhero persona based on your favorite animal. You'll end the week with a costume and a superhero comic!


Fishing, July 5 - 7: Hook a great time with this in-depth fishing week of specialty camp! We'll learn all the in-and-outs of fishing including parts of the fishing pole, putting bait on a hook and fishing in creeks and wetland habitats.

Camping & Wilderness, August 14 - 16: In this 3-day specialty camp, we'll learn how to set up a tent and campsite, build a fire, forage for wild foods, as well as first aid skills and more! By the end of the week you'll know the basics of how to survive in nature


Archery, July 5 - 7: Aim for adventure! In this 3-day specialty camp, we'll learn with a certified archery instructor how to properly and safely use both compound and recurve archery bows. Each day we'll introduce a new skill and offer practice with fun challenges in the woods!

Fishing, August 14 - 16: Hook a great time with this in-depth fishing week of specialty camp! We'll learn all the in-and-outs of fishing including parts of the fishing pole, putting bait on a hook and fishing in creeks and wetland habitats.

Wild Child NaturePlay

June 5 to Aug. 10 | Ages 2-4

Bring out your child's wild side and meet new friends during our parent-toddler camp! Our naturalists will lead as you experience the best of nature with your child(ren) through outdoor discovery stations, exploratory play and art projects that develop motor skills and the body's senses. Each week will feature new themes and activities so sign up for all five weeks! Monday/Wednesday/Friday Camp and the Tuesday/Thursday Camp will share similar themes and activities. Dress for the weather and to get messy! An adult must accompany their child(ren) during the camp.


Teen Wilderness Explorers

June 12 to Aug. 18 | Entering Grades 6-8

Are you an outdoorsy person? Do you want to spend your summer exploring amazing natural spaces in the Chicago region and learn a thing or two about giving back to the environment? If so, then join our Teen Wilderness Explorers, where you will voyage and volunteer! Two days a week we will explore the wild areas around our base camp at Gilbert Park/Maple Grove Forest Preserve, two days we will explore Lyman Woods and practice ecological restoration; one day a week we will go on a fun field trip to a natural area in the Chicago region! Drop off and pick up will occur at Gilbert Park unless enrolled in Before and After Care. Participants will be transported to and from Gilbert Park and other sites for our weekly field trips and park visits by Lyman Woods staff. Weekly prices vary depending on field trip and filed trip activities and also include our camp t-shirt. Participants are responsible for bringing their own lunch and two mid-camp snacks. No camp July 3 and 4.

  • Week of June 12-16: Lincoln Marsh (Cooperative Games)
  • Week of June 19-23: Waterfall Glen (Fishing)
  • Week of June 26-30: Bemis Woods (High Ropes Course)
  • Week of July 5-7: Blackwell Forest Preserve (Kayaking)
  • Week of July 10-14: Midewin Prairie (Bison & Geocaching)
  • Week of July 17-21: Matthiessen State Park (Scavenger Hunts)
  • Week of July 24-28: Cranberry Slough (Geocaching)
  • Week of July 31-August 4: Big Rock (Fishing)
  • Week of August 7-11: Busse Woods (Fishing)
  • Week of August 14-18: Volo Bog (Scavenger Hunts & Geocaching)


Lyman Woods Before & After Care

June 12 to Aug. 18 | Grades Pre-K through 8th grade

Do you need some extra care before your AM camp or after your PM camp or before/after your full day Nature Camp? Sign up for Lyman Woods extended hours. Please note that children will only be allowed to participate in the extended hours right before or after the camp that they are signed up for. The full day Dature Camp and Teen Wilderness Explorers Camp participants enrolled in Before and/or After care will be transported to and from Gilbert Park.

  • Before Care: 8:00-9:00am
  • After Care: 4:00-6:00pm


Nature Summer Camp Volunteers

Love being outdoors? Need volunteer hours or looking to build your resume? Join our team!

Over the Summer, Lyman Woods is host to a variety of nature-themed day camps for ages 4-14. Lyman Woods Summer Camp Volunteers gain valuable experience working with children in an adventurous, outdoor setting while meeting and working with other volunteers. Volunteers help the camp instructors and camps from assisting with crafts and games to set up and clean up to being a buddy to shy campers.

We prefer volunteers that are available for two or more weeks of camp, but no matter how many weeks you choose, you must commit to the entirety of that week. Morning (9am - 12pm), Afternoon (1 - 4pm) or full day (9am - 4pm) shifts available.

Volunteers should be able to arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of camp and stay for 15 minutes after camp. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old and able to attend a volunteer training session in early June (date and time TBD). Volunteers 18 years old and older must complete a Criminal Background Check.

If you are interested in applying, please complete the Volunteer Waiver and Nature Summer Camp Volunteer Application below and return them to Lyman Woods (901 31st Street, Downers Grove, IL 60515) or

Volunteer Waiver

Nature summer camp volunteer application