Lazy summer days are few and far between around Mercy Home. The days are long, action-packed, and brimming with sunshine. And our boys and girls take full advantage thanks to a schedule overflowing with activities and outings that keep their bodies, minds, and spirits in the sun and on the move. In addition to internships, summer jobs, and classes, our kids enjoy many fun summer activities.

In the Garden


The seeds of Mercy Home’s summer season often take root in – where else – our garden. Here, dedicated coworkers and volunteers help our kids discover their green thumb as they learn about cultivating soil, composting, and how to use garden tools. Our kids even plant flowers and vegetables, which they harvest for our cafeteria, teaching them valuable lessons about ecosystems and how their food grows.

On a Bike


No summer is complete without long bike rides with friends. Mercy Home partners with West Town Bikes, a community bicycle learning center, that teaches our boys and girls bike safety, etiquette, and maintenance. Such newfound skills come in handy as kids embark on group bike rides with staff around the city or on bike trails in forest preserves in and around Chicago.

With a Fishing Pole

Nothing gets our kids hooked on summer better than feeling a fish tugging on the end of their line. Whether it’s the lakefront marinas, park district lagoons, or area rivers and ponds, Chicagoland offers many honey holes for anglers looking to reel in big fish. This summer, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is providing our kids with a fishing tutorial, rods, and bait before turning them loose at a park district pond.

In a Canoe

Casting from the shoreline is great, but a true hallmark of summer is getting out on the water. So, when the fish aren’t biting, our kids can set down their poles, pick up some oars, and float downstream on a canoe trip. Chicago Voyagers, an outfitter that leads adventure programs for at-risk teens, guides our youth on these float trips as they discover their own potential in the great outdoors.

On the Lake


Slow and steady floats downriver are nice, but sometimes summer beckons a need for speed along the lakefront. Thrill-seeking youth and coworkers got their chance to indulge in some high-octane adventure on Lake Michigan this summer, compliments of Seadog Cruises, a Chicago boat charter that leads gentle architecture and skyline tours after opening up the throttle in deeper water and pinning soaked passengers in their seats.

At Summer Camp


After being on the water, what better place to dry off, warm up, and replenish calories than sitting around a fire while eating s’mores? All our kids have ample chance to do so as our summer camping trips provide even more opportunities for our boys and girls to discover the wonders of nature, whether it’s hiking wooded paths in Illinois or scouting bison in Yellowstone National Park.

With Games

Once they return to the city, as the peaceful solitude of nature wears off, our kids look forward to livening things back up a bit with a little friendly competition, where they learn sportsmanship and teamwork. Thankfully, both the Walsh Girls Campus and West Loop Campus offers many grassy spots in the shade, perfect for lawn games, Frisbee toss, or games of catch, all of which emphasize laid-back fun.

Through Sports


The more seasoned athletes among our kids enjoy structured sporting events, like our Rising Stars Challenge, a head-to-head basketball competition where kids square off against each other and Mercy Home coworkers in four categories: Shooting Stars Competition, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Competition, and a Youth vs. Staff game.

On the Racecourse


Some of our older kids, however, prefer athletic competitions of a more extreme sort, where the competition is anything but friendly. Case in point: Spartan Race, a grueling 4.5-mile obstacle course over muddy and hilly terrain. Together with some brave Mercy Home coworkers, three adventurous youth representatives – two young men and one young woman – climbed over walls, maneuvered on monkey bars, and waded through mud pits. As well, the team jumped over a fire pit, crawled under 50 yards of barbed wire, and swam under walls submerged in water.

From extreme sports to just plain wacky – Mercy Home has it covered. While most summer activities are scheduled agency-wide, occasionally, individual residential programs will organize their own independent events. For example, last summer, Speh Home organized a game of Bubble Soccer, courtesy of Battle Balls Chicago. Youth and coworkers alike slipped into inflatable bubble suits, then bounced and bumped their way around the pitch, trying to score goals.

All these summer activities may sound exhausting, but kids at Mercy Home get to relax and unwind at one of their favorite summer traditions: Movie On The Lawn. Under the stars, kids, coworkers, families, and volunteers enjoy an outdoor movie on a giant inflatable screen, as they snack on popcorn and other treats. Prior to show time, Mercy Home grill masters serve up hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings, as kids of all ages socialize, play games, and make crafts.

Thanks to all our generous donors, these wonderful outings and activities help our kids have a truly unforgettable summer full of memories that will last a lifetime.

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