Summer might have already started, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still time to take advantage of everything the Hot Ground Gym’s Leadership Summer Camp has to offer. But that brings the question to mind: what do we have to offer? As it turns out, a lot more than most day camps in the Vernon Hills area.

For some kids, what to do during summer is obvious, and we probably can’t compete. If your kid’s room is covered in soccer posters and they sleep in their cleats, there’s not much chance that we’re going to compete with soccer summer camp. But most kids like more of a variety, and that’s something we have here in spades at our Vernon Hills day camp.

We certainly offer some of the more common aspects of a day camp, but we also have some special areas of interest that you’re just not going to find anywhere else. Yes, we offer a variety of sports that kids can enjoy, and there are days when we’re going to head to the beach like other camps might. But we know how much kids like variety, and what we offer goes far beyond “would you like to play four square or tetherball today?” Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting activities you might find on any given day at our summer camp program.

Outdoor Activities

Summer is the time for being outdoors, and even though it might require a lot of sunscreen it’s most definitely worth it. While there are most certainly a variety of sports we offer, including more unique ones like archery, a lot of our outdoor activities will be based around exploring the outdoors.

  • Hiking – Hiking is a great way to get exercise and to experience nature at the same time. While hikes can sometimes be exhausting, none of the team gets left behind!
  • Outdoor Exploring – While hiking is one form of outdoor exploration, the constant movement often means that you looking at the world from a macro perspective, or larger level: what’s on the horizon, where’s the next bend, etc. With outdoor exploration, we can slow down and take a closer look, with a “getting there is half the fun” mentality. There’s so much that can be learned in nature, and it helps kids further their appreciation of it when they can be out in it.
  • Daily Missions – Some of the daily missions will take place at our indoor obstacle course, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating. But many of them will take place in the great outdoors, as we put kids on teams and give them a mission. It could be finding the most efficient way through the woods (with supervision, of course) while dragging something heavy behind them. How can they make their load lighter? How could they fashion something on which to drag it? Daily missions are a great way to build teamwork and let kids experience leadership roles.

Fitness Activities

Sure, heading outdoors and going on a hike is good exercise, but it’s not necessarily deliberate exercise. Here are a few of the ways that kids get the exercise they need in today’s screen-filled world.

  • Full-Scale Indoor Obstacle Course – When we’re not hosting summer camps, Hot Ground Gym in Vernon Hills is our primary business. It is also worked into our kids’ summer camp, because it’s great exercise and kids love it! This course helps kids work out their minds and their bodies with an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course. If we’re not out in nature working on the daily missions, it’s very likely we’ll have them indoors at our kids’ gym.
  • Fitness – This is certainly the most deliberate of all of our exercise routines. This is good ol’ fashion military-style fitness, including push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, and other exercises that keep kids limber.
  • Self-Defense – Self-defense is a necessary part of life, because it’s important to be able to take control of a situation if someone else is looking for a fight. We’ll teach kids the basics of the most efficient martial arts so that they are ready to defend themselves should the need arise. We’ll also teach them the importance of trying to diffuse the problem before physical fights even begin.

Survival Skills

Here are some of the most unique of all of the summer activities that you’ll find at our day camp. We’re certainly not going to abandon any kids to see if they can survive, but we can give them some basics if they ever get lost.

  • Orienteering – Orienteering combines many useful skills for outdoor living. Not only will kids get good with a compass, but they’ll also learn how to read the land and read a map at the same time.
  • First Aid – First aid is something that everyone should know, yet far too many people simply aren’t trained to help someone who gets hurt in the great outdoors. Even the basics can make a difference when someone is too far away from urgent care, so we make sure to train the kids well.
  • Camouflaging – Is camouflaging something that kids need to know when they come home for the day? No. Is it something that they’ll be needing for school next year? Probably not. But it does give them a better idea of how to hide in dangerous situations and an appreciation of how animals do it.


We’re happy to say that kids will also be involved in serving their teammates at our camp. This means that they’ll be helping to cook on the grill or over the fire. They’ll also be helping to make the side dishes, such as healthy salads (we’re big on exercise and nutrition).There will also be cleaning duties involved, which most kids don’t mind since they’re with their friends. It truly gives them a feeling of accomplishment!

Like we said, this isn’t your typical Vernon Hills summer camp! But we can tell you what it is: fun for all boys and girls ages seven to 14. Learn more about it right here!