Camping

Volunteer in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Although summer is winding down and fall is slowly approaching, there are still numerous ways to enjoy warm and fulfilling days in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Visitors can consider a leisurely walk along a trail, participating in a fun and educational program at a Nature Center, or paddling along one of the local waterways.

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Book Your 2017 Camping Excursion in the Forest Preserves

If you’ve never been camping in Cook County, make 2017 the year you experience the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s five campgrounds. Beginning January 3, all dates for 2017 camping are open for reservations.

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New Life for Sullivan Barn Means New Adventures for Campers

How do you beat the weekday blues? A staycation—camping close to home, recharging surrounded by nature and… rock climbing inside a historic barn.

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Learn about winter camping during workshops

Camping is a time-honored tradition that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. While many people only think about camping spring through fall, winter camping can be just as enjoyable!   The Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting two winter camping workshops to educate attendees on winter weather safety and layering, winter fire building and snow shelter building. During the events, there will also be winter nature activities and snowshoeing (conditions permitting). The events are free to attend, and no registration is required.

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Achieve Your Goals in the Forest Preserves

The start of a new year brings with it great potential. Many of us use it as an opportunity to reflect upon the previous year, and challenge ourselves to make changes in our day-to-day lives. Whatever those changes or goals may be, I urge you to consider how you can incorporate the Forest Preserves of Cook County into your 2016 plans.

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Experience Camping During Winter

With the opening of several campgrounds throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County this summer, many visitors and residents have been able to enjoy the great outdoors in a new way. Although fall will slowly fade into winter, residents and visitors can still enjoy camping at Camps Reinberg, Sullivan and Bullfrog. Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook will also be open to large groups only.

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Camping Challenge: WGN Morning News Visits Camp Bullfrog Lake

Last week we invited the early crew at WGN Morning News out to Camp Bullfrog Lake for a five-round camping challenge. Erin McElroy and Demetrius Ivory took on Marcus Leshock and Lourdes Duarte in archery, tent pitching, campfire building, canoe racing and tetherball. And it didn’t always go so well…

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Camping CLICs for Youth Leaders

The Forest Preserves and Outdoors Empowered Network (OEN) held the first CLIC (or Camping Leadership Immersion Course) training this June at Camp Sullivan. A dozen youth leaders gathered for the weekend-long course to sharpen their leadership skills, learn about camping equipment use and care and familiarize themselves with group activities related to outdoor recreation and nature-based education.  

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Win Free Camping: All Ages Coloring Contest

All ages! Complete a camping themed coloring page for a chance to camp for free September 25 to 27. Entries due by August 1.

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Camping Update: Shabbona Woods Now Open, Support Camping Programs

Camp Shabbona Woods welcomed its first campers Memorial Day Weekend, marking the return of individual and family camping to the Forest Preserves. Stay tuned throughout June and July—we will be announcing the openings of Camp Bullfrog Lake, Camp Dan Beard, Camp Reinberg and Camp Sullivan. Click here for more information on camping, , or check out recent news coverage of the new campgrounds:

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A Partner in Camping

As part of their commitment to get people active in the outdoors, Columbia Sportswear is providing gear and funds to support the Forest Preserves’ Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC), which trains group leaders to organize and lead camping and nature outings.

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Did You Know? The forest preserves has a long tradition of camping

Almost since the forest preserves’ founding, people have camped there in some form or another. In the preserves’ early years, it was virtually anything goes. People camped wherever and whenever they pleased, and were even encouraged to do so, as described in this blog post by Natalie Bump Vena:   In 1922, The Chicago Defender reported that thousands of Chicagoans “saved rent” over the summer by living in “tent colonies” located in the forest preserves. In 1921, the District described these dwellings in romantic terms, writing, “there is a growing tendency on the part of many families to pitch week-end camps, while others remain during longer periods, some passing the entire summer under the shade of the great woods.”   That intensive use had negative effects on the land, though, and in the 1930s, the Forest Preserve District began to restrict camping to several established youth camps, including some operated by outside organizations.  

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Why We Camp

This summer, as we head into the final stretch of our centennial celebration, we’re extremely proud to reintroduce camping to Cook County residents and visitors for the first time in more than half a century.   The first site to open, Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland, will welcome campers beginning Memorial Day Weekend, Friday May 22, 2015. Additional sites in Willow Springs, Northbrook, Oak Forest and Palatine will open throughout the summer, offering tent campsites, RV campsites, small and large cabins for families, groups and couples of all ages and interests.

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Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County