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Trio of teen summer programs will include hiking and kayaking

The Forest Preserve District will offer three programs geared specifically for teens this summer. 

There will be two Teen Connection hiking and socializing programs on Wednesdays, July 17, and Aug. 14, and one kayaking program on July 18. See below for details and registration information. 

“We are offering teen programs because this is the age group we see the least in the preserves,” said Jenna Krukowski, an interpretive naturalist for the Forest Preserve District. “We know that everyone is busy these days, but we are hoping teens see this as an opportunity to connect with nature in their own backyards and across the county, try something new, and possibly meet new people.”

Everyone is welcome in the preserves, regardless of age or skill level, added Krukowski.

“You don’t have to be an expert kayaker or even competitive to have a good time,” she said. “And we’ve taken care of the hard part of planning an outing – we figured out what to do and where to go. You just have to sign up and be ready for some fun! And if nothing else, being on the water is just a fun and, at times, peaceful way to enjoy the outdoors.” 

Em Wilcher, the Forest Preserve’s recreation coordinator, said summer is a good time for teens to try some outdoor recreation. 

“Teens’ schedules get filled up so quickly in the school year between time at school, homework, clubs and sports and even work,” she said. “So little of their time is left to do things like hiking or trying a new hobby. We want to take advantage of the summer season to provide time and space for teens to check out our preserves, meet people from other schools, and maybe even get out on the water for the first time.” 

Making friends across school districts isn’t always easy, Wilcher added. 

“But we know that widening your social circle isn’t just good for you, it’s good for the community at large,” she said. 

Wilcher said it’s a privilege to program recreational outings for teens. 

“We’re also super open to hearing from teens what kind of programs they would like to see offered in the future,” she said. “They can share this feedback at our programs, or reach out via email at [email protected]

Here are the three 2024 teen programs. 

Teen Connection: 3-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, and Wednesday, Aug. 14, Hickory Creek Preserve, LaPorte Road Access, Mokena. Free, ages 13-18. Register by the day before each program: 815-727-8700. 
Calling all teens looking for some inspiration on where to hike and what to do outside this summer! Join our recreation coordinator for a hike and time to hang with teens from around the county for games and laughs. The program will also highlight recreational activities and hotspots to check out throughout the preserves. The hike will be up to 2 miles along paved and natural surface trails.

Paddle, Play and Popsicles: 1-3 p.m. Thursday, July 18, Monee Reservoir. Ages 13-17; $20 per person. Register by July 16: 815-722-9301.
Participants will start with an overview of kayaking basics led by American Canoe Association certified instructors and then participate in our paddle game challenges before cooling off from the friendly competition by enjoying some Popsicles. All equipment is provided. Wear clothing that can get wet, including water shoes or old gym shoes. Consider bringing sunscreen, sunglasses and a water bottle. No previous experience is required. The launch area is easily accessible by a paved sidewalk from the parking lot. Please note: Waivers will be emailed upon registration. Waivers must be signed and returned by a parent or guardian prior to the start of the program. An adult responsible for the registered participant must remain onsite during the program. 


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