Francis O'Neill Irish Arts Week FAQs

Who can attend Francis O'Neill Irish Arts Week Kids Day Camp?
Camp is open to children ages 4 through 17 years.  Campers ages 4-6 can attend our morning half-day program and campers ages 5-17 can attend the full-day program.  Campers ages 5-6 who have some musical experience and who parents feel can handle a full-day, and/or who have other family members attending the full-day camp may also attend the full-day (at full-day pricing).  The Teen Performance Ensemble is designed for our older cohort (see details below).

Where does the camp take place?
Camp takes place at the Irish American Heritage Center at 4626 N. Knox Avenue.

What are camp hours?
Camp runs from 9am - 3pm, Monday through Thursday (July 29-August 1) and 9am - 12pm Friday (August 2).

Will there be a family recital?
Yes!  Please join us at the Heritage Center on Friday, August 2 at 7pm for a showcase of all the kids learned during the week. Bring all your friends and family!

What is the cost?
The half-day program is $279 and the full-day program is $399 for the week.

Are there any discounts for multiple campers?
YES!  Any additional campers from the same immediate family (siblings) get an additional 10% discount on the early bird cost of camp ($251.10 for half-day program; $359.10 for full day program).  Discounts will be automatically applied on your registration form. 

Are there any scholarships available?
YES!  We want to make sure all kids who wish to attend camp are able to do so.  Please fill out this short application and we will let you know of any scholarship funds available.

Who staffs the camp?
Camp faculty includes some of the best traditional Irish music and dance teachers in the world including Sean Cleland, Alicia Guinn, Jesse Langen,, Jackie Moran, James Reilly and many other talented teachers and administrators.

How will campers be grouped? 
Campers will be grouped by age and musical level for their activities.  Everyone joins together for the opening morning and closing afternoon music jam sessions and for lunch.

What are the instrument choices for my camper?

  • Ages 4-6: tin whistle or fiddle

  • Ages 7-10: tin whistle, fiddle, Irish harp or bodhrán

  • Ages 11-17: tin whistle, fiddle, concertina, bodhrán, piano, flute, piano accordion, cello, Irish harp, guitar, tenor banjo

Do you have a recommendation on an instrument for a child that has no experience playing any instrument?
We recommend starting with tin whistle for any child that has no experience playing any musical instrument.  The tin whistle is inexpensive, easily portable and introduces children to the melodies, rhythms and concepts of traditional Irish music in an accessible way.  You can buy a whistle from us for $12.50 directly on your registration.

Does my child need to bring their own instrument?
All campers need to bring their own instruments.  Tin whistles are available for purchase from us for $12.50 each on your order form.  Violin rental is available at Seman Violins in Skokie.  We also have a limited amount of concertinas, bodhráns and Irish harps available for rent.  Please contact us with questions on sourcing any instruments.

What kind of tin whistle do campers need to bring if they are learning whistle at camp?
Tin whistle students must have whistles in the key of 'D'.  Whistles must be labeled with the camper's name.

What kind of dancing will they be learning?
Campers will learn a variety of Céilí, Set and Sean-nós Dancing.

What will a typical day for my child be like?
Each day will begin with a group music session and camp announcements.  Each camper will have the opportunity to learn music, dance, singing and Irish language in addition to other fun subjects.  Younger campers will also get to learn Celtic arts & crafts and older campers will get an additional hour of music instruction. 

What is the Teen Performance Ensemble?
The Teen Performance Ensemble is aimed at an older cohort of young musicians who have substantial experience with their main instrument. Performance Ensemble members will collaborate on composition of performance pieces.  We will accept beginning students in this age group who will be open and commit to participating through learning tin whistle, singing, lilting, and/or Sean-nós dancing.

How many children do you need for an instrument group to run?
There must be at least 3 children of similar musical ability and age range enrolled in an instrument group for that track to run.  Campers enrolled in a track that does not run will be offered the opportunity to choose a different instrument.  All instrument learning is considered a valuable learning experience for campers, even if not on their chosen instrument.  Most traditional Irish musicians know how to play more than one instrument.

Will my child be called to audition?
In order to place children in the proper music group, we may ask you to bring them in for a very short "audition" prior to the start of camp.  This is a no-pressure demonstration of where your child is on their musical journey so we can appropriately place them in a group that will be enjoyable and educational for them.  Teen Performance Group students, who are not already students at the Irish Music School of Chicago, will be asked to meet with our executive director for an informal evaluation.

What happens if my child's primary instrument choice group does not run?
An alternate choice will be given.  If a child's primary choice instrument does not run and you do not want them to learn any alternate instrument, your camp registration fee will be refunded in full.

What should my child bring to camp every day?
Campers are welcome to bring snacks and must bring a bagged lunch for themselves. Please pack a mid-morning snack for younger campers. Campers are also encouraged to bring a water bottle to drink throughout the day. Books, coloring books or other quiet activities your child may enjoy are welcome to be used during down time. Please label all of your children's belongings. Please pack sunscreen in case weather permits outdoor activities including trips to a nearby park.

What kind of clothes should my child wear?
Campers should wear comfortable clothing and have sunscreen for recess/lunchtime.  Any special shoes for dancing will be communicated to parents well in advance of the start of camp.

What kind of medical and emergency information do you need for my child?
We require all medical issues and emergency information to be disclosed prior to the start of camp.  We do our utmost to ensure the safety of campers and all information parents can provide on issues that may arise are welcome.  Parents are responsible for all costs and charges for medical treatment that may result from any injury or sickness, or other damages that otherwise result, relate to or arise from participating in the Francis O'Neill Irish Arts Week. 

Do you administer First Aid? How do you handle emergency medical situations?
Minor injuries will be taken care of at camp. If anything more serious arises, we will contact you immediately and, if necessary, call an ambulance, which will go to the closest medical facility.

What do you do to accommodate children with allergies, intolerances, or special medical conditions?
Campers with allergies or medical conditions are welcome at camp. Francis O'Neill Irish Arts Week faculty will work together with parents to educate camp staff as to camper's special needs and will do their best to provide a safe environment.

Do you allow peanut or tree-nut products at your camp?
We cannot guarantee a 100% nut-free or allergen-free environment. We ask that all camp parents discuss allergies with their camper beforehand, and explain to their camper the importance of washing hands before and after eating, not sharing/trading food, and respecting the needs of campers with severe and/or life-threatening allergies.

What are your drop-off and pick-up hours?
Campers are to be dropped off between 8:45 and 9:05 AM.  Half day campers should be picked up between 12 and 12:15 PM and full day campers picked up between 3:00 and 3:15 PM.

What are your drop-off and pick-up procedures?
The north parking lot and limited parking in front are available.  Camp home base will be Room 109.  Please walk your child/ren into the building in the morning to sign them in.  At pick-up, you must come to room 109 to sign out your child.

What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellations made prior to May 15, 2019 will be refunded minus a $50 cancellation fee.  No refunds will be issued as of May 16, 2019 except in the case of a medical emergency. No refunds are issued for any late arrivals or early departures. 

Still have questions?  Please contact us at or call 773-412-5082.