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Registration now open for Forest Preserves of Cook County Camping
First campsite in South Holland to open Memorial Day Weekend; four additional sites will open throughout the summer.

Friday, May 01, 2015
Special to
by Cook County Forest Preserve District

The next century of camping in the Forest Preserves of Cook County begins today with registration open to the public. The first new campground – Shabonna Woods in South Holland - will open on Memorial Day Weekend. Four additional new and revitalized campgrounds offering tent pads, RV spaces, and small and large cabins will open throughout the summer giving individuals of all ages, interests and backgrounds the chance to experience camping on District lands.

For decades, camping in Cook County has been available only to organized groups such as the Scouts. This year marks the first-ever opportunity for individuals and families to camp overnight in a tent or a cabin, forging a unique connection with nature while participating in diverse outdoor activities offered by Forest Preserves staff.

The five Cook County campground sites are:

·Shabbona Woods in South Holland (new)

·Camp Sullivan in Tinley Park (revitalized)

·Camp Reinberg in Palatine (revitalized)

·Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs (new)

·Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook (revitalized)

The first to open is Shabbona Woods, preparing to welcome campers on May 22. The public is invited to book their stay online, anytime at, by phone at 1-855-YES-CAMP and in-person at Forest Preserves of Cook County Headquarters located at 536 N. Harlem Avenue in River Forest. Phone and in-person registration are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The remaining four sites are expected to open in June/July. Opening and registration dates will be announced shortly.

“Two years ago, we released a camping master plan that detailed our vision for offering an array of new camping options for Cook County residents. We wanted to build on our camping legacy, and encourage a new generation to explore overnight camping as a means of relaxation and recreation close to home,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “This summer, those plans come to fruition. People will come together in our forests to roast marshmallows, share campfire stories and wake up with the rising sun. Their ability to camp close to home will be a tremendous experience, and will demonstrate the value of these natural assets.”

Forest Preserves of Cook County Camping offers residents and regional travelers an affordable opportunity for a single or multi-night getaway for families, couples, groups of friends or organized groups.

“As we celebrate our centennial year, we are looking ahead to the next century of the Forest Preserves,” said Forest Preserves of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “We need to think beyond picnic groves if we want people to engage with nature, and truly experience the preserves and wilderness in their backyards. Camping, coupled with programming can connect residents with a wonderful natural resource in a way that is most comfortable and suitable for novices, experts and group leaders.”

Unlike other camping sites, Forest Preserves of Cook County Camping will offer optional daily activities and regular special events for campers. This free programming is provided by Forest Preserve staff and varies by site, but includes archery, campfires and nature hikes. Gear rental, Camping 101, Family Campouts are also available.

Groups with no camping or outdoor adventure experience will have the opportunity to participate in the Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC) which provides valuable camping and outdoor programing skills and training. Leaders completing the CLIC program can register large groups of up to 60 for an overnight campout that includes use of donated gear (tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment) by CSX and Columbia, the Outdoor Empowered Network and the Forest Preserve Foundation.

Fees vary by season and day, but range from $30 for a weekday tent pad to $200 for a Saturday-night, 36-bed bunkhouse for Cook County residents. Non-residents will pay $10 more per night.

All sites will be professionally managed by Billy Casper Golf, the long-time manager of the county’s golf courses.

“Billy Casper Golf has proudly and successfully operated Forest Preserves of Cook County golf courses for the past 13 seasons,” says Jered Wieland, Vice President of Operations for Billy Casper Golf. “We look forward to combining our operational and customer service expertise with the talented team at the Forest Preserves to provide fun and enjoyable camping experiences at these picturesque facilities.”

Campsites are spread throughout the county, offering camping opportunities at various locations. All campgrounds will have 24-hour staff and will be monitored with regular patrols by the Forest Preserves Police Department. Each site will feature new restrooms and shower facilities, and some will include a dining hall with food and supply concessions. Camps Sullivan, Bullfrog and Reinberg will be open 362 days a year but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Camps Dan Beard and Shabonna are open April through October.

Special features of each site include:

·At Camp Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs: Two-bedroom heated cabins; a variety of walk-up and drive-up (with electric service) camp sites; small, rustic cabins with scenic views of Bullfrog Lake; a new boathouse at nearby Maple Lake with rentable rowboats, canoes and kayaks; concessions; refurbished fishing docks; a common area for field games and special events as well as access to nature trails and Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center.

·At Camp Shabonna Woods in South Holland: Three-season cabins; new picnic/program shelter; mulch tent pads; a camp clearing with new nature play area; trail connection to Sand Ridge Nature Center and nature trails; a gatehouse; located across the street from Green Lake Aquatic Center.

·At Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook: New cabins for group and family use; primitive group camp sites; picnic shelter; a new, central restroom; renovated Baity Cabin for indoor programs or dining; walking distance to the Des Plaines River trail and short drive to River Trail Nature Center.

·At Camp Reinberg in Palatine: Two-bedroom heated cabins; a variety of walk-up and drive-up (with electric service) camp sites; mulch tent pads; small, rustic cabins; a renovated dining hall; access to nature and regional trails; near the Crabtree Nature Center.

·At Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest: First phase includes bunkhouses for groups; smaller rustic cabins; primitive group camp sites; camp clearing and picnic program shelter; walking distance to 10-mile Tinley Creek paved trail and unpaved nature trails; short drive to George Dunne Golf Course.

oFuture phases include a wooded family camping area with walk-up and drive-up camp sites (with electric service); renovated activity barn with indoor climbing wall and gathering space. An outdoor ropes challenge course is in the planning and design process.

The total cost of the campgrounds including design, engineering and construction is approximately $29 million and is part of the Forest Preserves’ Capital Improvement Program. Funding for the campgrounds came from General Obligation Bonds issued in June 2012, for the purpose of funding land acquisition and capital improvement projects.

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