Get your s'mores ready because the Forest Preserve District's has launched a "No Gear, No Problem" camping gear rental program.
Campers who want to sleep under the stars will be able to rent all of the equipment they need from the Forest Preserve District.
The program is intended to entice people to the Forest Preserve's camping program and campsites by providing equipment, tips, and safe camping close to home, said Lynn Kurczewski, the Forest Preserve’s director of visitor services.
Equipment can be rented in two- or four-person packages or separately. Rentable items include tents, sleeping bags, rechargeable lanterns, pots, utensils and dishes.
Gear package fees are $75 a night for two people, $135 a night for four people and $20 for extra nights. Individual gear item rental fees will range from $5 for a rechargeable lantern to $40 for a four-person tent.
Camping gear must be rented in conjunction with a Forest Preserve camping permit and requires a reservation. Gear rentals can be made by phone or in person when making a camping reservation. Gear reservations must be made a minimum of 1.5 business days in advance. This means that any rentals for the upcoming weekend must be reserved by the end of the business day on Wednesday for a Friday afternoon checkout.
Gear can be picked up by arrangement at Sugar Creek Administration Center from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. You must have a valid credit card, a government ID and a completed rental agreement at the time of pickup. Returns are accepted from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Sugar Creek.
The gear rentals should help increase the number of people who will be able to try camping, Kurczewski said. A local survey of past Forest Preserve campers combined with national data show that the top reasons for not camping are: lack of equipment, lack of knowledge on what equipment is needed, where to camp and how to cook meals while camping.
“The ‘No Gear, No Problem’ program is designed to meet the equipment needs and attract more individuals and families to experience camping in the District’s beautiful settings,” Kurczewski said.
Forest Preserve campsites are located at Forked Creek Preserve – Ballou Road Access, Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve, Hammel Woods – DuPage River Access, McKinley Woods – Frederick’s Grove and Messenger Woods.
Camping is allowed year-round except at McKinley Woods, where camping is unavailable from November 1-April 15. A permit is required for use of all campsites. Camping availability can be checked online. Reservations may be made over the phone with a credit card or may be completed in person. A permit can be purchased at any of these visitor centers: Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville and Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township.
All campsites have access to nearby fire pits, accessible latrines and a water fountain or hand pump. Accessible campsites are available. Water is not available during the winter months.
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