Camping With a Twist

Some local residents recently got the chance to put a twist on modern day camping by doing it on historic grounds. Naper Settlement hosted the first “Under the Stars and Stripes Campout.”

“It’s a chance to get some people to come out and look at the museum in a way they might not normally see it,” said Ernie Klapmeier, Museum Educator at Naper Settlement. “After the people have gone away and the buildings have closed up it really is a nice park.”

Families pitched their tents together. Some were experienced campers, others were out for their first night in a tent.

“They were kind of surprised about the experience of it going up all of a sudden and being able to go in and out,” said Joyce Leverence, a Naperville resident camping with her two three-year-old granddaughters.

The night blended historical activities like croquet and ring tossing with more modern ones like geocaching, where you use a GPS device to go on a scavenger hunt.

“There’s just the compass on the screen and you follow it until it goes crazy and then you know it’s somewhere around that area,” said Maureen, an eight-year-old.

Kids even learned about traditional compasses and how to tie knots from REI, an outdoor retailer.

“Connection to the outdoors, especially in young people, is critical for development and it’s just a wonderful way to engage in the natural world,” said Elliot Bennett, Chicago Market Outreach Specialist at REI. “There are lots of fun ways to do that and I think a lot of times kids don’t understand that.”

In the morning, the guests got a chance to tour the ground’s historic buildings before doors opened to the public.

“It has all these cool rooms I haven’t been in a lot and I’m a Daisy and I get to go in the mansion a lot,” said Anna, a nine-year-old Naperville resident. “It’s my favorite places to go to.”

The settlement hopes to make the campout an annual event.

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