New in 2016 - ChicaGO Explorers

The Chicago Park District’s Camping programs have expanded by 50% in the last three years.  As the sole provider of outdoor adventure programming in the parks, we have a limit on the number of youth and families we can serve each year.  As excitement builds for camping in the city, groups have started to inquire about borrowing our gear.  In response to the high demand for opportunities for groups to simply get outside and explore, we are building a program that will not only loan out gear at no cost but will also train Chicago Park District staff, youth workers in Chicago, and families to explore and lead their own outdoor trips. ChicaGO Explorers provide adults with the skills to take young people outdoors safely and comfortably.

Our goal is to make it easy and fun for anyone to get outside and go hiking or camping. By breaking down the obstacles to getting outside, we are making it easier for everyone to have a positive experience in the outdoors.  When youth are properly outfitted with boots, socks, hats, coats, tents, sleeping bags, etc. and leaders are confident in their ability to facilitate outdoor trips, hiking and camping can help create significant memories, friendships, confidence, and abilities that last a lifetime.  There are many great natural areas to explore throughout the city and the metro region. ChicaGo Explorers will highlight Chicago Park District parks and take advantage of nearby forest preserve resources. Through a negotiated partnership, leaders who have gone through ChicaGo Explorers will have low–cost access to campgrounds within the Forest Preserves of Cook County and other campgrounds, as well as an opportunity for transportation scholarships.  The exploration doesn’t stop at the county limits, our gear is available to take as far as your adventures reach.

We aim to launch ChicaGO Explorers in 2016 working with the Outdoor Empowered Network, which “gets youth outdoors through wilderness leadership training and outdoor gear libraries.”  We anticipate four trainings in 2016, each training hosting 20 youth workers.  If 35% of the trained leaders provide an experience for 20 youth we will have affected 560 youth in the first year.  That number will only grow as the number of trained leaders grows, with our goal to serve 4,000 youth on an annual basis.

For questions please call Northerly Island (312) 745-2910.

Family Camping

Camp out overnight with your family in a Chicago Park District park! Take a nature hike, go fishing, learn basic camping principles, and enjoy a campfire. Learn basic camping skills from our experts, camping and fishing equipment will be provIded. After you experience Family Camping you'll have all the know-how needed to camp on your own.  Parent or guardian must participate, up to six family members, age six and up.

Cost is $50 per family.

2016 dates will be announced in the spring.




Explore Your Parks: Camping 101 Program is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your family and with nature. We create safe, comfortable and relaxed setting for beginners to experience the outdoors and create new memories with your State Park Family.



Check out The North Face Explore Your Parks Activity Guide Chicago.
It features information on camping, biking and other exciting outdoor activities you can do this summer in Chicago's parks. Thanks to The North Face for making this possible.