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Forest Preserve District of Cook County Joins Outdoors Empowered Network

Shea Morrissey

Chicago launches Camping Leadership Immersion Course to get kids outdoors

SAN FRANCISCO – January 25, 2016 – Outdoors Empowered Network (OEN), the largest national network of Member Organizations through which educators and youth leaders have access to wilderness training and free outdoor gear libraries, welcomes the Forest Preserve of  Cook County (FPCC), of Chicago, Ill., as the first member program in the Midwest. Chicago joins Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boise, and Seattle in a growing number of cities with programs increasing much needed access to nature for youth. In 2015 alone, OEN’s programs have trained 318 youth leaders and empowered 10,000 youth participants to experience the outdoors through immersive backpacking and camping trips.

The FPCC is the first government agency and land manager to join the OEN, and is emerging as a national leader in the creation of programs to support their use by youth, families and community-based organizations. The Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC), a program developed by the FPCC with support from OEN, provides a dynamic and affordable way to enrich the lives of young people through outdoor recreation and education. The goal of the CLIC program in the Chicagoland area, and that of the other OEN supported initiatives nationwide, is to provide outdoor experiences to youth who don’t often access public lands and overnight camping. 

“In 2015, the Forest Preserves of Cook County brought back public camping for the first time in fifty years with the opening of five new and revitalized campgrounds ,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the FPCC. “Despite being within the footprint of the third largest metropolis in the country, the FPCC manages more than 70,000 acres of natural land. Offering the CLIC program so close to an urban area is a valuable resource. Our partnership with OEN makes it possible for us to expose and immerse new and diverse audiences to camping, which can be a gateway to healthy and active living.” 

Read entire press release here.