Skip to main content

CAF’s summer camps use field trips and familiar materials, like Minecraft and LEGO®, to teach young learners why design matters.

By Jessica Cilella, Web Editor

Zane Dej makes city scenes out of anything he can get his hands on.

The 10-year-old from Alberta, Canada has a deep interest in architecture and loves building with LEGO®. But his mother, Stacey, couldn’t find any educational programs near their home that could nurture Zane’s passion for the built environment.

So, when she stumbled upon CAF’s Architecture Camp online, she booked a trip to Chicago and signed Zane up.

“The camp was everything I hoped for and more,” she said. “It was a perfect combination of exploring, learning and building, guided by knowledgeable instructors who were enthusiastic about the creativity of architecture.”

This summer, CAF hosted 68 students ages 7-14 at our five summer camps. The students stayed with us all day for three to five days to learn firsthand why design matters.

Two of the camps were only for girls, while others used Minecraft and LEGO® to teach students about architecture. The kids shared and presented their ideas with each other throughout the week, which helped build self-confidence and communication skills.

Campers walked outside every day to view sites, go on tours, eat lunch and play. Some field trips included visits to the Willis Tower Skydeck, Perkins + Will’s office in the Wrigley Building and the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum.

Each camp culminated with a final showcase for family and friends where the campers displayed their work from the week, presented their final project and received a camp certificate.

Rebecca Millham, a CAF education facilitator, said the camps are unique because they offer kids access to the real life design process.

“There’s a direct connection to not only the field of architecture, but the history, and they can go and touch it, they can experience it,” she said.

Amanda Richter said her 7-year-old daughter Andrea loved her summer camp so much she was saying she wanted to be an architect by the end of the week.

“I thought, ‘She’s at a good age where this could spark an interest, a lifelong love of architecture,’” Amanda said.

Amanda added that she appreciated how the camp gave the students opportunities to learn how to navigate the city, while also strengthening their social and presentation skills.