Exploring the Great Outdoors

It’s that time of year when families load up their cars with tents, mosquito repellent and sleeping bags and drive hundreds of miles to a campsite. But some families are taking a shorter trip over to Knoch Knolls Park for the annual Naperville Park District Camp Out.

Naperville resident Steve Calcaterra and his 3 children have been coming to the Park District’s Family Camp Out since 2004. Calcaterra says this is a time for him to bond with his kids over Father’s Day weekend. The family enjoys escaping from their busy lifestyle without having to travel far.

“My kids are very little still, so getting them outside and getting them experience with spending the night in a tent with a bonfire and things like that are hopefully giving them experiences that will grow into bigger trips in the future,” said Calcaterra.

To take part in this event the Park District charges a fee of $19 per person. Campers start to arrive at 3 p.m. on Saturday and end their trip with a breakfast on Sunday morning. Families set up their own campsites in the park with the convenience of being able to make a quick trip home if anything is forgotten.

Michael Maher, the Naperville Park District Family Camp Out Coordinator said, “Anybody that loves the outdoors is going to enjoy just coming out here. It’s serene, there’s not a lot of noise, there’s wildlife. From the bats that flicker in the night, to the hawks that fly by, to the occasional deer that you see.”

The event has many activities like a water balloon toss and a family cookout. But the key ingredients to any successful camp out are two graham crackers, a piece of chocolate and a marshmallow.

“We get to eat s’mores too!” said Naperville resident Nina Calcaterra.

The camp out has been around for about 19 years and officials say that the event has grown this year, with nearly 70 people compared to last year’s 50.

Calcaterra said, “Look at the sun and the grass and the trees, and kids spend so much time in front of computers and video games and inside, so many organized sports and those things are great too…but to be able to just have a little free time, to run around and just be a kid is a fantastic thing to do.”

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