Wow!! I recently found out that this upcoming summer (2024) at Banner Day Camp is extra special because they are celebrating their 60th anniversary! Six decades of creating the most vivid and wonderful memories for kids, and I bet some of those kids are now sending their own children there, just like I am! Because if you didn’t know, I spent seven incredible summers at Banner myself during my childhood and that’s because the magic of Banner is REAL. I was obsessed and couldn’t wait to go back year after year, especially for their epic theme days! Knowing my boys feel the exact same is surreal but not surprising!

This post is in partnership with Banner Day Camp located in Lake Forest, IL. As always, all opinions are 100% honest, my own, and never influenced by anyone. Thank you for supporting brands and businesses that make The Dana Ivy – Real Mom Life possible =)

With that said, I thought I would share some of my very favorite Banner traditions! These are just some of the cherished traditions that make Banner Day Camp so unique and special, and I can’t wait to let you in on them!


This high-energy kickoff to every summer is all about spirit and camp pride. Think tons of singing (gotta love their motto song that my kids come home everyday humming! Hahaha), dancing, and those awesome bouncy balls they give out. This is when Starfish award winners are announced and campers come up to the stage who have birthdays. Bannerama is simply put – a real “camp family” moment. And personally, when I think of Banner, this is the tradition I think about!

Friday Theme Days

Every Friday brings a new adventure with theme days, from Olympic Day to Wild West Day and even a fun-filled Carnival Day (which was my favorite as a kid!), plus so many more theme days. Banner goes all out by completely flipping the camp upside down into a totally awesome special event, based on the week’s celebration. These themed days keep things super exciting for everyone, kids and staff alike, and create unforgettable memories for the campers who love to get dressed up each week depending on the theme!!

Friday Cookouts

What’s better than a delicious cookout for lunch after a week of camp fun? NOTHING. This cookout is the best and just another reason why I looked forward to every Friday at camp growing up! My kids love it too! Picture hot dogs sizzling on the grill, and happy campers chowing down together – it’s a classic summer tradition.

The Ribbon Ceremony (formerly Balloon Lift-Off)

Something that everyone should appreciate about Banner is that the camp as a whole is super in-tune to the times. While I have the most fond memories of the Balloon Lift-Off, my boys are equally excited about the Ribbon Ceremony. Banner understood that balloons were no longer environmentally friendly so they changed the tradition from the Balloon Lift-Off to the Ribbon Ceremony, which still keeps the same message. That is, one that celebrates every camper’s achievements, reminding them that they all can make a difference in this world. It’s heartwarming, sweet, and fun at the same time.

Camp Group Follies Dances

Every camp group spends the summer working hard on a creative dance routine, set to fun music, and then they get to showcase their moves for the whole camp. The dances are epic and seeing your littles on stage is everything and more a parent could ask for! This tradition brings out the best in everyone!

The Trophy Ceremony on the Last Day of Camp

At the beginning of the summer, each camper shares a goal with their counselors for their time at Banner Day Camp. At the end of the summer, they get themed Trophy’s typically revolving around what they were working on all summer long. Seeing the pure joy on each my boys’ faces when they get off the bus on that last day of camp and as they hold up their accomplishment trophy is literally priceless!

Brody and Levi in front of the Bannerama benches // In this post, I'm highlighting the long-lasting traditions, like theme days, that make Banner Day Camp a beloved summer camp in Chicago's North Shore & beyond.

Smaller Traditions to Note

There are smaller traditions too, like the special buttons the kids get when they pass a swim level, and of course, the camp group names, which have always started with the letter B, for Banner! Also, the staff gets together for a Follies Dance of their own and that is super fun to watch too!

Speaking of traditions, some of the Banner staff have become legends themselves! There’s Stew, a true camp icon, who’s been there for an incredible 45 years. Staff members like Stew are the heart and soul of Banner, and their dedication is inspiring.

More Reasons to Love Banner

With Banner’s encouraging and personable staff, top tier activities, and cherished traditions, it’s no wonder Banner has been creating unforgettable summers for kids in Chicago and Chicago’s North Shore for 60 years! If you’re looking for a totally unique and special summer camp experience for your child, look no further than Banner Day Camp!! Your kids will thank you for it!

Banner Day Camp is located at 1177 Riverwoods Rd in Lake Forest, IL. 60045. Camp tours are given year round! You can call to set up an appointment at 847.295.4900. Also – go follow Banner on Instagram.

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