First Time Camping
As any camper can attest, you will experience incredible things on a camping trip that you won’t on a day trip. Camping overnight is an immersive, 24-hour experience. That means you might hear an evening chorus of frogs and birds while you’re carrying your dishes to the wash house. You can reconnect with friends and family sharing dinner around a fire. And you’ll have more time to let the serenity of nature melt away the worries of everyday life.
“But I have no idea how to prepare for camping, let alone the gear for it. I don’t even know what I’d do out there!” Don’t worry. The Forest Preserves of Cook County Camping program is designed to make camping accessible to everyone. We offer everything from gear rental to free Camping 101 workshops and casual camping skill lessons at the campgrounds. We even offer a comprehensive camping leadership course for leaders of large organized groups.
What is the best way to prepare for your camping experience? If possible, we recommend learning in-person. There’s no substitute for watching in real time how someone sets up a tent or cooks on a camp stove, and then trying it yourself:
- Go with an experienced camper. Learn as you go and let a friend or family member show you the ropes.
- Take our Camping 101 workshop. It’s just a few hours long, open to the general public, there’s no obligation to camp—and it’s free.
- Sign up for a Family Campout.
- Group leaders can register for our Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC). CLIC training provides instruction in leadership skills, camp equipment use and care, and group activities related to outdoor recreation and nature-based education.
- Rent a gear package from our “Instant Camper” program or rent individual tents, sleeping bags and more.
There are also many online resources that can help you get a feel for the basics of camping, including what to wear, what to bring and what to eat. A few places to start:
Still have questions? Call our main camping line at 855-YES-CAMP. Our staff can talk you through the experience and answer any questions you may have about camping in the forest preserves.