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Chicago gets creative, Gets Camping in the City!

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Chicago gets creative, Gets Camping in the City!

KYLE MACDONALD

"It is so city, but still, we're here in this peace," said Cynthia Anthony-Harris, who brought her 14-year-old son to the park for the family's first camping experience.

Anthony-Harris, 57, was among dozens who participated... in a Chicago Park District event that aims to give first-time campers an experience without a big financial or time commitment.

For Chicagoans hesitant or unable to leave the city, the growing program aims to draw new recruits to the hobby and expose them to some of the more pastoral corners of the city — in some cases just steps from their front doors.

The Chicago Tribune article reports "The CTA's Green Line clacked in the background, but the trappings of city life didn't deter the dozens who had erected tents and roasted hot dogs around campfires on the lawn of Garfield Park Conservatory one recent weekend."

Photo: Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-urban-camping-met-20140829-story.html

Photo: Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-urban-camping-met-20140829-story.html

Its because of programs like this that Outdoors Empowered Network is proud to announce that it is working with two of the most well established, respected conservation and recreation agencies in the country.  The Chicago Park District, and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Families spend the night camping in a somewhat unlikely setting: the Garfield Park Conservatory grounds on Chicago's West Side. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

Families spend the night camping in a somewhat unlikely setting: the Garfield Park Conservatory grounds on Chicago's West Side. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

"We try to highlight our natural areas. Places we try to go are where you feel away from the city because you're surrounded by nature," said Matthew Freer, who organizes the Park District's urban camping trips.  Matt is the lead partner for the Park District and is collaborating with the Forest Preserve to build a new program that will be hosted at brand new campgrounds (under contstruction summer/fall 2014) on Forest Preserve land.   Read about the Master Camping Plan that the Forest Preserve recently completed.