New to camping? Learn to 'Camp With a Ranger'
No one ever offered me "camping lessons" and I was maybe too young as a Cub Scout to pay enough attention or care enough about the few times we talked about surviving and thriving in the great outdoors.
Thus, it is no stretch to tag me as possibly one of the worst campers in the western hemisphere. Most of my attempts at cozying up to nature in past camping trips resulted in no sleep, numerous mosquito and fly bites, dirty clothes, a stinky body and, quite likely, bad breath. We can throw in getting soaked for good measure on those days or nights it rained.
Other than that, it was great.
Unfortunately, I don't like any of those aforementioned byproducts of pretending I was Davy Crockett for a few days. Davy Heun needs a clean bed, electric appliances, a full refrigerator, a TV, a working toilet, and a sink with clean water for brushing teeth.
Sure, it might be different these days with smartphones to pass away some time while "camping," but I'd still rather do that without bugs and dirt.
But camping is the most popular recreation for many families, and anything that takes you away from our electronic lives has to be a good thing.
And it could have all been different for me with some guidance, I suspect. That's why the Kane County Forest Preserve District's "Camp with a Ranger: Introduction to Camping" program seems like such a good idea.
Basically, the district is offering to teach some tricks of the camping trade to families trying it for the first time.
The county has overnight camping sites at Big Rock Campground in Big Rock and Paul Wolff Campground in Elgin that are available through Oct. 31.
The program is a one-night campout, with use of one eight-person tent, a burner stove for cooking and a lantern. And, of course, some experienced campers from the forest preserve district to guide you through this venture in the wild.
I didn't expect anyone to call me back after dialing the information line at (630) 232-5980, figuring they'd hear my message and simply say, "This clown can't camp."
But forest preserve senior ranger Collin Verbick did respond, telling me the program has been in place for four years, since the opening of the Big Rock Campground.
"We usually get about two to four families signing up every season, and that's not as much as we first imagined," Verbick said. "We thought there would be much more interest."
The district is promoting the program more now, however, making Verbick believe that more families will show an interest.
Pick up wire:
Speaking of the outdoors, I cringed a bit when getting a note from the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn that it is treating some geese that were found all tangled up in fishing line wire.
It shared some details about how one had its legs virtually tied together.
The reminder here is for fishermen and any others who might encounter it, to remove fishing wire left near a riverbank.
The new Fairview:
Fairview Park has been a playground for kids on the west side of St. Charles for a long time, at least since the homes that made up Fairview Plaza in that area along Oak Street near Randall Road were built some 60 years ago.
It was interesting to hear Laura Rudow, superintendent of parks and planning for the St. Charles Park District, say that a meeting late last year with area residents about considering new plans to renovate the park "was the most well-attended we have ever had."
More than 40 people of all ages gave the park district some ideas about what they would like to see done at Fairview Park, located at Oak and 19th streets.
So a two-year project, which included removing everything in the park to start over, has its crowning glory Wednesday, July 26, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration with park district officials in what they are calling "the grand reopening" of the site.
It's a park that officials are confident delivers everything that residents wanted, from swings for all abilities, to open space, to apparatus to challenge kids physically. As for those swings, it includes one I never heard of before -- an "expression swing" built so an adult can also swing while facing the child.
As you might have figured by now, this new park is about three times larger than the former site.
The public is invited, and it takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. with that side note you always like to see at a commemoration -- "refreshments are provided."
It's renovation work:
We know the Jank Guitar Store in downtown St. Charles has had way too much going on to suddenly close its doors.
So don't be concerned when noticing the place is closed next month. It's undergoing a renovation of the Main Street location, but will continue to provide lessons and other services.
When it reopens, owner Scott Corbin will be able to show off a remodeled interior, a key card access system, a community education space, and a digital production suite for audio and video editing.