CHICAGO (CBS) — For decades, camping in the forest preserves has been available only to organized groups—until now.
This summer, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is opening five new and revitalized campgrounds to families, groups and individuals of all ages and interests.
Whether you’re staying in a tent, a cabin, a bunkhouse or an RV, you’ll get a chance to hear owls, paddle a canoe, stargaze and watch the sun rise over the trees.
Or you can try one of our many free programs to learn about local nature or hone your outdoor skills.
Camp Shabonna Woods, in South Holland, officially kicked off the new initiative on Friday with a ribbon cutting.
For details on Shabonna Woods and four other site-Camp Sullivan in Tinley Park, Camp Reinberg in Palatine, Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs and Dan Beard in Northbrook–can be found here. Reservations can be made online, by phone or in person.
Forest Preserve District general superintendent Arnold Randall said the camps are for newbies and veterans alike.
“In the past, you could only camp if you were in a private organized group, or the scouts, which are great, but we wanted to open it up to families and individuals,” he told WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya.
Campers will be able to sleep in tents or in cabins, and if they don’t have their own camping equipment like tents or sleeping bags, they can rent them.
Cook County Forest Preserve District Board President Toni Preckwinkle talked about her drive to Camp Shabonna as some people were already starting their holiday weekend.
“I’m sure that there were lots of cars heading to Indiana and Michigan and Wisconsin for a weekend of camping, but for the first time in 50 years, some of them will be able to go a much shorter distance. They’ll be coming here to Camp Shabonna to enjoy the wilderness of Cook County,” she said.