By: Viva Yeboah, Outdoor Afro Leader, Chicago
Recently, Outdoor Afro Chicago went on a fall overnight camping trip to Kankakee River State Park. Our group included a total of 16 members of all ages, background and with various camping experience. The 4,000 acre state park is about an hour south of Chicago and offers plenty of activities year around including camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, horseback riding, biking and hiking.
In preparation for our trip, we held a pre-camping potluck meeting at REI Lincoln Park community room. We enjoyed food and beverages while discussing our itinerary, answered questions and addressed any concerns. Additionally, if members were in need of camping gear or equipment, REI rental department provided members with guidance on what was available to rent and cost of rental.
Now of course with any trip, you can plan your best, but you won’t be prepared for everything. On Wednesday, we started monitoring the weather for expected severe storms over the weekend. Since weather forecast are not 100%, we agreed on Friday to go ahead with our trip. Everyone was notified to be prepared including bringing rain gear. By Saturday morning weather predictions had changed for the best. Precipitation continued to decrease and the storm prediction push back from morning to early evening.
Another bump in our trip, was the mix up with our campsite. A boy scout troop checked in late Friday evening and chose to take our site rather than their reserved site. Our original site was close to parking, water, electricity and toilets. Not only those great amenities but the set up of the site was beautiful. It provided enough space and privacy from other groups. We were able to claim a unreserved site similar in size to our reserved site. The site was much closer to the river and a bit further away from amenities. In return for the mix up, the troop assisted us in moving our gears, equipments, and other camping items to the site.
Saturday evening sky
For the most part our campsite was fully set up before the rain arrived. A few members had to set up their tents in the rain or waited for it to pass.
Tents in preparation for rain
Our itinerary included canoeing, hiking, horseback riding and communal meals. Check out the Saturday morning canoeing crew below. We held a potluck dinner for Saturday and once the rain slowed down we had the campfire going. S’mores, games, great conversations and music (some Steppers, House and Reggae mixes)!
Saturday evening campfire
Even though we moved to another site, the bonus was being closer to the river. Sunday morning, provided the chance to capture the beauty of the river. We enjoyed communal breakfast, campfire, music and more discussions. Since this was our check out day, it was hard to fit in our remaining two activities (hiking and horseback riding) and also pack. However, we were able to complete a one hour hike but held off on horseback riding.
Our trip was awesome. The rain did not deter us from camping; I think it only challenged us more and added more excitement to our trip. The campground and facilities were in good condition. The best part of our trip was everyone’s contribution to making it happen. Members contributed equipment, gear, food, their time and effort for all of us to enjoy the camping experience. Even those unable to attend made major contributions. We look forward to the next camping trip.
More camping pictures and upcoming events at Outdoor Afro Chicago meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Outdoor-Afro-Chicago/