This may indeed be a dealer-only problem. The engineers at GM have cleverly designed in a number of things that require trips to the dealer. Some problems can now be handled by independent repair shops, but only once the aftermarket industry develops the very expensive specialized diagnostic equipment. All GM owners go through this. The same is true for BMW, Audi, and VW owners. All of those companies have an abundance of customer-unfriendly business practices such as these.
What you can do is start by checking the fuses inside and under the hood. At first I thought the engine died when the head lights were on while you were driving, (which is another common GM problem), but I think you meant you left the lights and ignition switch on when the engine was not running, and that ran the battery down. If that is correct, it is fairly common for a few fuses to blow simply from connecting jumper cables or a battery charger. That is from the current surges that occur, and there is no other actual problem.
One problem I have been running into is there are a real lot of fuses now, and they are no longer labelled for the circuits they protect. That is because they usually feed computers that run those circuits, so a fuse might be labelled "IPC 3", "TIPM 5", and things like that. You do not know what those mean? Welcome to our world!
Instead of trying to figure out which fuse to test, use a test light to test all of them. If you do not know how to use a test light, get hold of one, then I will explain it. All of the small spade-type fuses have two tiny holes on top for test points. Turn the ignition switch on, then test for voltage on both test points for each fuse that you can. If you find 12 volts on both test points, that fuse is good. If you find 0 volts on both sides, that circuit is currently turned off, and that fuse is not in a circuit related to this problem. You are looking for a fuse that has 12 volts on one side and 0 volts on the other side. Replace any that are blown.
The larger cartridge-type fuses have to be checked visually through their clear plastic covers, but those are much less likely to blow from connecting jumper cables. If all the fuses are good, the dealer may need to unlock some of the computers. Needing to do that after simply replacing an old battery is a trick that's real common on VW vehicles, and GM copied that on some of theirs too. Running the battery dead causes the same problems, if any, that disconnecting the battery to replace it causes. The aftermarket industry has come up with a whole bunch of "memory saver" devices that allow us to replace the car's battery without needing to tow the vehicle to the dealer to have those computers unlocked.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 AT 9:16 PM