Not Your Dad’s Summer Programs

When one thinks of summer programming at schools, traditional summer school comes to mind.   Although we do provide such traditional programs, providing either remediation or enrichment.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.   Galapagos is unique in providing some of the most diverse summer programming of any school in the country.  Our goal is for all scholars to participate in a least one “Not Your Dad’s Summer Programming” in the course of their GRCS careers.  Many scholars participate in three or even more programs.  As part of our growth mindset, the quantity of our high-quality programming increases every year.   There is no other school that provides these programs in a manner that is accessible to all.   Please check our calendar for information meetings or email our Enrichment Manager, .

If you would like to support our scholars’ access to programs, please consider Donate Here

A right of passage for many American students, trips to Washington D.C. can be out of financial reach for many others.  Thanks to generous private donations, Galapagos Rockford has been able to help assist over one hundred and sixty eighth graders on this trip to our nation’s capitol.  Scholars reinforce their knowledge of American history as they visit the Lincoln, WWII and Vietnam memorials among many others.  Over the years, scholars have gone to Arlington Cemetery, the Bureau of Engraving, Ford’s Theater, Congress and the Holocaust Museum.  Along the way, scholars have run into President Obama’s motorcade, the Dali Lama and former Vice President Pence.

Galapagos is the only public, middle school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

Galapagos Rockford Charter School has partnered with Northwestern University for the last ten years.  Since 2009, Galapagos has sent scholars to Northwestern’s Gifted and Talented program to spend up to three weeks on the Northwestern campus.  During this time, scholars live in NU dorms, eat in college cafeterias and take classes on the NU campus.  Classes are high interest, rigorous programs that range from: coding, to Shakespeare to forensics among many others.  Scholars are not only exposed to engaging academics but they also have the opportunity to meet and share the experience with children from around the world.  Over one hundred Galapagos scholars have had the opportunity to participate in the Northwestern program.  The majority of our scholars receive scholarship support that, since the inception of our partnership, has exceeded $180,000.  Many scholars have returned to Northwestern for a second or even third year, including some of our alumni.

Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

The opportunity to explore another country can be life changing.  That is the reason why Galapagos Rockford sends up to ten scholars a year to spend a week in Costa Rica.  Our scholars get the chance to travel the Costa Rican countryside, explore fruit stands offering exotic fruits, visit an internationally renowned university, and that’s just the first day!  Scholars sleep in the rain forest, work with biologists to create habitats for local wildlife, and discover the sights and sounds of the forest at night.  For the last couple of years, we have visited a local school where Costa Rican students walk nearly an hour and a half to get to class.  Our adventures have even taken us to the far reaches of the indigenous Bri-Bri community bordering Panama.  It’s an opportunity that is earned by our scholars and requires a lot of hard work but in the end it’s pura vida.   Click here to see more.

There will be a workshop classes at the Burpee Museum as well as Spanish classes before the excursion.  

Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

The Model United Nations program is a rigorous program that allows scholars to explore the same topics debated by the nations of the world.  Galapagos scholars develop skills such as research, debate, negotiation and public speaking as they advocate for topics related to nuclear disarmament, human rights and environmental standards.  Through this program, Galapagos scholars have spent part of the summer training at Harvard University and return to lead the GRCS team in United Nation simulations in a variety of locations including Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio.  Annually, our group has the pleasure of meeting an actual Foreign Service Officer from The U.S. State Department. 

Yep, you guessed it, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

This is a great opportunity for Galapagos alum entering their Junior or Senior years in 2024. For the fourth year, the Project Passport Africa Program at Galapagos will bring up to six GRCS alum to Africa. This trip combines learning about African culture with a leadership retreat. Alum will get the chance to visit Uganda and Rwanda, meet and work with Africans their own age and visit locations that will expand their horizons. The trip will take place in July 2024 and will require some pre-work and fundraising. This amazing program sends Galapagos alumni to Uganda and Rwanda.  Scholars will travel with students from other parts of the United States to a youth summit with high school students from a variety of African countries.  Students will work together at the summit in Uganda while also having time to explore the region.  Scholars will visit an African market place, meet with village elders and spend time on a safari.  Finally, scholars will visit neighboring Rwanda to learn about the genocide that enveloped that nation in the 1990’s while discovering how the nation undertook one of the more successful reconciliations displayed by humanity in the 2000’s.  Click here to see more

Ahh, yeah, we are the only ones who do this as well.   Applications for the summer of 2025 will be available in September, 2024.

A complete COVID vaccination as well as a Yellow Fever vaccination is required in order to attend this trip.

Galapagos has partnered with Outward Bound to provide a truly unique experience for GRCS scholars.   This is an opportunity for our 6th-8th grade scholars to spend five days canoeing and camping on the boundary waters in Minnesota.   Scholars will  learn outdoor skills such as setting up a tent, canoeing and hiking.   More importantly, they will learn how to challenge themselves and develop the courage to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.  In the process, scholars will develop leadership skills which will help them now as well as moving forward in life.  They will also have a lot of fun as they experience the wonders of nature.

Again…Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

Apply Here by May 18, 2024

The Great Books program is hosted by Haverford College just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Great Books provides scholars an opportunity to dive into the literary work of authors such as: Ovid, Virginia Woolf, Octavia Butler, Shakespeare, and W.E.B. Du Bois.  These writers provide the foundation for scholars to explore questions that have riddled humankind for millennia.   Scholars learn to vigorously discuss and analyze a variety of topics and philosophies.   Throughout this week-long program, scholars interact and learn alongside scholars from around the world. While not engaging in debate and higher-level thinking, scholars are able to enjoy a variety of “camp” activities such as swimming, outdoor activities and team building.  Before scholars say good-bye to their newly discovered intellectual paradise scholars will explore the historic sights of Philadelphia including the Liberty Bell.

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

Uhhh, yeah, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

Galapagos has partnered with the University of Wisconsin STEP program so that Galapagos scholars can participate in intensive academic programming during the summer.   Programming topics range from medical science, advanced literature, forensics, robotics and game design.  During this two week program, scholars will also be able to explore Madison and the campus on a variety of field trips and programming.

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

 Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

For the third year, Galapagos will send scholars to the world-renowned Sea Camp in San Diego, CA.   This program introduces scholars to marine-biology.  The lab that the use is none other than the Pacific Ocean.  Scholars will explore marine life both in the ocean and in a traditional lab setting.  The program combines hands-on labs and workshops with interactive field activities, such as snorkeling, boat trips, kayaking and boogie boarding. Marine science is a multidisciplinary field therefore SEACAMP San Diego covers a wide variety of subjects including marine ecology, physical oceanography and marine biology, ranging from the largest marine mammals to the smallest plankton.

It may sound fishy but, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

Galapagos is excited to continue Space Camp in 2024.  Based at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, scholar-trainees have an unparalleled environment to spur imagination while being surrounded by space, aviation and defense artifacts.  Space Camp challenges trainees to transcend from “What if?” to “Can do!”  Launched in 1982, Space Camp has inspired and motivated young people from around the country, and later the world, with attendees from all 50 states, U.S. territories and more than 150 foreign countries.  Space Camp alumni include NASA and ESA astronauts, engineers, scientists and technologists.  Trainees cultivate teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills through simulated missions while gaining personal and professional insights that profoundly impact their futures.

It may sound like we are shooting for the moon but, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

Apply Here by January 18, 2024


Established in 1955, Harand Camp was one of the nation’s first co-ed, residential camps to combine singing, dancing and acting with the fun of traditional camp activities. Located on the campus of Carthage College in Kenosha, WI and in Evanston, IL,  Harand offers quality non-competitive musical theater training for scholars.  “Haranders” also enjoy sports & elective activities, off-campus trips and all-camp events. Scholars reside in modern dorms overlooking Lake Michigan. All sessions culminate with amazing musical performances in a state-of-the-art theater.

This is not a Hollywood rumor, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity.

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

For over 30 years, the National Student Leadership Foundation, has welcomed outstanding middle school and high school scholars from across the U.S. and around the world to explore their academic and career interests and develop essential leadership skills during exciting and interactive summer programs at the National Student Leadership Conference.  At the NSLC, scholars participate in interactive, fast paced, hands-on activities designed around the subjects you’re most interested in.  Scholars will learn about future academic and career possibilities as they go on exciting trips and tours and engage with professionals from within a field of interest.  They will develop the knowledge, confidence, and practical leadership skills required to achieve their goals and become a leader in their school and community.  See more about the program here: Youtube

As a leader in experiential programming, Galapagos is the only school in Rockford that offers this opportunity. 

The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.


Galapagos is proud to partner with the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois to provide three different summer options for our current Girls Scouts in 2nd-8th grade.

Program 1– Horseback Riding Camp (5-8th graders)- Runs from June 12-15.

Program 2– Overnight Mini Camp (2-8th graders)- Runs from June 19-21.

Program 3– STEM Day Camp (2-8th graders)- Runs from July 22-26.

Programs 2 and 3 take place at Camp McCormick.  This is a wonderful place to get more acquainted with the outdoors and give girls a unique summer camp experience. Scholars will participate in an outdoor adventure full of learning, opportunities for challenge, friendship, and tons of fun. The camp community fosters experiences where every camper is welcomed, and together with other campers scholars can discover their ability to better solve problems and overcome challenges, develop leadership skills, build social bonds, become team players, increase their level of overall happiness and gratitude through social and environmental focused programming.   

RSVP for Information Meeting on April 24

Farmers Rising is an overnight camp in Caledonia, IL.  Scholars will get their hands dirty as they learn how to harvest veggies, learn sustainable living techniques, care for adorable farm animals, and explore nature. Scholars will experience a real working farm while discovering connections between our land and the food we eat.

There is a lot for scholars to do on the farm! Campers engage in daily activities such as feeding goats and chickens, refreshing water buckets, and collecting eggs. Kids earn their “green thumb” by pulling weeds, planting seedlings and turning the compost piles. Our activities teach responsibility in a way that is satisfying and formative.   Scholars enjoy group games, relay races, ice-cream making using ingredients from the farm, nature exploration, hiking across the farm’s 200 acres, campfires, nature crafts & more! In no time, kids become part of the working farm, forming deeper connections to the land, animals, food, and each other.  Learn more here:

Overnight Camp from June 23-June 27, 2024 (3rd-4th graders).

Galapagos is excited to continue Project Passport trip to Spain.  Scholars will travel to Spain and spend a week, during spring break, in one of Spain’s most enchanting cities, Sevilla.   This Project Passport trip is open to all current GRCS 7th and 8th graders as well as all alumni currently in 9th or 10th grade.   On this journey, scholars will:

  • Participate in approximately 3 hours of Spanish language classes a day.  But, don’t worry, these classes are tailored to the scholars’ ability.   Scholars who do not speak Spanish will participate in GRCS only beginning Spanish classes.  Scholars who already speak Spanish will take classes that match their current language ability.
  • Explore the wonders of this city that was formed by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic culture and influence.   Highlights include the world-famous Cathedral, Alcazar as well as the largest bull plaza in the world.
  • Learn to cook Spanish dishes in a hand-on class.
  • Watch world class Flamenco dancers, guitar players and singers.
  • Eat wonderful Spanish cuisine.   And… so much more.

See more here.

A complete COVID vaccination is required in order to attend this trip. The application period for the summer of 2024 is over.  Summer of 2025 applications will be available in September of 2024.

Galapagos is excited to announce that it is continuing, for a second year, Project Passport Utah- Dinosaur Fossil Hunters.   GRCS, in partnership with the Burpee Museum, is offering this special adventure to 6th through 10th grade scholars and alum.   Scholars will travel to Utah to work side by side with paleontologists to discover evidence of the magnificent creatures that roamed the Earth before humans.  That’s right- we will be looking for dinosaur fossils.  This is a physically challenging trip.  Scholars will be working, hiking and exploring in the desert.   They will get dusty, dirty and tired but they may just discover the next dinosaur.   Scholars will camp out for at least one night with the other nights in a local hotel.   In addition to learning about dinosaurs and excavation techniques, scholars will also learn about the constellations in the desert night sky as well as discover the vibrant wildlife of the Utah desert.

This program runs in June.   There will be a few workshop classes at the Burpee Museum before the excursion.  

If you would like to hear the scholars’ point of view on many of these programs.  Just click here:

Scholar Testimonials