The first season of camping in Cook County begins on Friday, May 22, 2015, with the opening of Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland, the first of five new or renovated campgrounds being introduced by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. This weekend marks the first time in decades that families and individuals can join organized groups in camping overnight in the Forest Preserves.
Dozens of reservations have already been made by families and individuals for the first camping weekend at Camp Shabbona Woods, located at 15810 S. Torrence Ave. in South Holland (immediately east of eastbound I-90/94 at 159th Street). The site features cabins, tent pads and RV drive-ups. These campers can anticipate plenty of time to forge connections with nature – check-in begins at 3 p.m. daily – while participating in outdoor activities being offered by Forest Preserves staff each evening.
Camp Shabbona Woods opened Friday morning with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, four more campground sites will open in June and July:
·Camp Sullivan in Tinley Park (revitalized site)
·Camp Reinberg in Palatine (revitalized site)
·Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs (new site)
·Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook (new site)
“As we celebrate our centennial, I am proud to say that camping will be part of our legacy for the next century.” said Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “The founders of the Forest Preserves were visionary leaders who recognized back then that in addition to our main mission of conservation and restoration, the people of Cook County needed a place to recreate and enjoy nature. Reinventing camping in Cook County provides a gateway into to the wilderness of Cook County and chance for people to connect and appreciate the natural world.”
"The new Camp Shabbona Woods is a great investment for the 4th District of Cook County and the entire Southland,” said Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore. “This initiative creates critical recreational opportunities for the community, and most importantly, provides our youth with fun and constructive ways to engage with the natural environment and enjoy the forest preserves."
Unlike other area campgrounds, each Forest Preserves of Cook County camping site will offer programming and regular special events for campers. Gear rental, Camping 101, Family Campouts as well as leadership courses are also available.
“The Forest Preserves of Cook County is offering more than ever before,” said General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “In addition to bringing back family camping, we’re providing free activities at each campsite such as archery, campfires and nature hikes lead by Forest Preserves Staff. Camp Shabbona Woods is also a short walk to Sand Ridge Nature Center, and is across the street from Green Lake Aquatic Center.”
Large groups will have the opportunity to participate in the Camping and Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC) which provides certification for group leaders to use donated gear by CSX and Columbia, the Outdoor Empowered Network and the Forest Preserve Foundation.
Campers can book tent pads, RV spaces or small and large cabins. Each site features central restroom and shower facilities, and some will include a dining hall with food and supply concessions.
Fees vary by season and day, but range from as low as $20 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. Peak season rentals begin in April and run through October. Some camps – Bullfrog Lake, Reinberg, and Sullivan – feature four-season, heated cabins and are open 362 days a year. Campgrounds are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
All sites will be professionally managed by Billy Casper Golf, the long-time manager of the county’s golf courses. All campgrounds will have 24-hour staff and will be monitored with regular patrols by the Forest Preserves Police Department.
Campground reservations can be made online at www.fpdcc.com/camping, by phone at 1-888-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 can be accommodated from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.