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updated: 8/16/2012 5:00 PM

Chicago says island will become urban camping hub

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Associated Press

Chicago officials say they have a new plan for getting urban kids up close and personal with nature.

They're creating a camping hub at Northerly Island, a strip of land in Lake Michigan that once was an airport serving downtown businesses. Former Mayor Richard Daley famously had Meigs Field torn up in 2003, and the city has been redeveloping it into a nature preserve and concert venue.

Officials said Thursday that the next ecological restoration phase will begin this fall and include new campsites for urban families and at-risk youth who might never have camped before.

The city will have 600 slots for family campers and 300 for kids ages 12 to 15 who participate in a Wilderness Camping program.

Programs should be at full capacity in 2014.

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