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ChicaGO Explorers Gear Library

The Chicago Explorers Gear Library is free for groups serving youth in Chicago. Support by the Chicago Explorers Program includes Front Country Leadership Training, free access to camping gear through the Chicago Explorers Gear Library, and support in training and implementing outdoor adventure recreation programming. The Chicago Explorers Front Country Leadership Training introduces youth leaders to proper gear use, planning outdoor programming, keeping youth safe outdoors, and local nature resources. Completion of the Front Country Leadership Training is required to rent gear from the Chicago Explorers Gear Library. Participants must be part of an organization that leads youth outdoor activities.
Chicago Explorers Front Country Leadership (FLT) Training at Northerly Island
The ChicaGO Explorers Front Country Leadership (FLT) training is designed for local community leaders and organizations to guide youth on hiking and camping excursions. The overnight training course includes instruction in leadership skills, camp equipment use and care, and group activities related to outdoor recreation and nature-based education. Once leaders are FLT certified, they will be able to check out camping and hiking equipment, making it easier for youth 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.

The 2021 Front Country Leadership is on Saturday, November 6th, from 10 am to Sunday, November 7th at Noon. All camping gear and food will be provided.  Participants must be part of an organization that leads youth outdoor activities. Please register here  Please reach out to with any questions. 

Coming in Spring of 2022:  Family Gear Library - NEW!

Let us help you get equipped for your next adventure!  Coleman equipment is available to rent to the public through the Family Gear Library.  Items available include tents, kitchen kits, stoves, flashlights, cold weather gear and more to help you enjoy the outdoors.  Items are priced per item for 2-week rental periods. Rentals will begin the week of April 1, 2022. 

Items For Rent 
6 person tent:  $16   
8 person tent:  $16  
Camp Table:  $6
Kitchen Set:  $6
Rechargeable LED Lanterns:   $6
Stove with Griddle:  $6
Camp chairs:  $4/pair
Inflatable Camp Pads:  $4/pair

Gear can be rented at Northerly Island during registered Gear Rental Sessions only. Registration ensures the gear library will be staffed during the Gear Rental Session you select. During your pick-up time you may view and rent gear and select a return time and date. Registration for Gear Rental Sessions will be available beginning March 23, 2022.  

Family Gear Library presented by:   Coleman


Monthly Camping Workshops

Level up your camping skills with free camping workshops! Learn about choosing and using gear, gear repair, camping in all weather, making tasty camp food and more.  Workshops are free, but registration is requested to ensure adequate supplies for all participants. All workshops run from 10 am - 12 pm. Workshops will begin in January of 2022.

Monthly Camping Workshops are presented by:  Coleman


Virtual Camping Programming

Family and Youth Camping have concluded for this year, please check back in April when programs for 2022 are posted. In the meantime, please enjoy our virtual programming below. The Chicago Park District Camping Team presents this series of videos showcasing ways to enjoy a great outdoor adventure with friends and family!  

Campfire Safety Tips & Story (8:34 minutes)

How to Set-up a Great Camp Kitchen (6:26 minutes

The Ultimate Campout (6:29 minutes

How to Prepare for a Great Family Hike (4:55 minutes


Family Camping Activities are presented by:  Coleman

Family Camping     

Camp under the stars with the Chicago Park District.
Learn basic camping principles, take a nature hike and enjoy an evening around the campfire led by our expert camping staff.
Note: Family should include at least one child and one adult, up to six family members. Parent or guardian must participate.
Camping begins on Saturday at 2 pm, and ends Sunday at 10 am.
Cost is $50 for a family of up to 6 members and includes use of tent, hot dogs and s’mores over the fire and all programming equipment. A packing list will be sent with your receipt.
Online registration begins two months prior to the program start date.


Youth Programs 

Urban Campers

This week-long program introduces youth, ages 9-12, to local nature through camping. Monday through Wednesday, Campers participate in adventures like hiking, fishing, nature exploration, and fun group games at their local park. The highlight of the week is a campout Thursday morning to Friday morning where campers set up their own tents, cook over a campfire, roast marshmallows, and camp under stars in a local park. 

Meets Monday through Wednesday from 10 am - 2 pm, and Thursday from 10 am to Friday at 10 am.

Under Illinois Skies

This week-long program is for youth ages 10-13. At their local park on Monday and Tuesday, campers will play team-building games, explore nature and get ready to adventure to a 3-day overnight camping experience at Cook County Forest Preserve Camp Bullfrog. On the campout, campers will kayak, fish, hike, and visit Little Red School House Nature Center. They will also set up tents, cook over a fire and roast marshmallows! 

Meets Monday & Tuesday from 10 am - 2 pm, and Wednesday from 10 am to Friday at 10 am.