“Aude aliquid dignum



THE PROJECT: Preserve, restore & re-purpose this 156-year-old 36-acre Chicago District Campground. The revitalized camp will serve as an eco-lab for businesses, architects, colleges & universities as well as a permanent exhibit space for green manufacturers. A test site for service-learning projects that will showcase innovative talent, technologies & designs that support a healthy clean energy future. Unique, meaningful and relevant. A rare opportunity!


LOCATION: Walking distance to the Des Plaines Metra Train Station and Forest Preserve, minutes from O'Hare Int'l Airport. The eastern lot line borders the 56+ mile Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway, connecting Lake and Cook counties, numerous forest preserves, parks and communities, and the west property line borders the Des Plaines River with a boat launch. North and South Borders connect to Forest Preserve land.


THE PLACE: The ideal environment to create, innovate, learn, teach, share, rest, reconnect & recharge.


THE GOAL:  Sustainable Community Development. A modern day Chautauqua that entertains and enlightens, as people come together to improve their minds and renew their ties to nature, and to each other. The Chautauqua brings entertainment and culture for the whole community.   A modern day eco-village and campground in an urban setting. Priceless!   We will work with local stakeholders to: 


          *  Engage the right participants              *   Identify key programs                  *  Build industry partnerships

*  Build credibility                                     *   Expand                                            *  Open labs to community


As stewards of 35+ acres, we have a responsibility to preserve the grounds for future generations. We are committed to revitalizing & preserving an important part of American history and educate community stakeholders about the benefits of doing more with less, using 100% eco-conscious methods for construction and cultivation - and to share our experiences with others through seminars, workshops, tours, exhibits, eco-rentals, and films.


THE PROGRAMS: Meaningful, fun & engaging workshops, activities, and events that support a safe, healthy, clean energy future, structured around the 4 Pillars of The Chautauqua: Arts, Education, Religion & Recreation.


THE MEANS: Through staff, volunteers, service learning, fundraising, and private donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations.


THE PAST: One of the oldest Chautauqua's still in existence, The Chicago District Campground Association was established in 1860 and chartered in 1867 as a State Senate Act under the old Illinois Constitution. Listed in 2005 on the National Registry of Historic Places, there are 129 buildings/structures on the grounds (103 cottages, and 14 public buildings built between 1865 and the late 1920's).  Upwards of 10,000 people filled the groves for large camp meetings, which met uninterrupted from 1860 through the early 2000s.  Famous frequenters to the Camp Ground included D.L. Moody, Frances E. Willard, Billy Sunday, Mahalia Jackson and other celebrities of local and international acclaim.


THE PRESENT:  The camp is a place for rest and renewal, and still holds ongoing worship services and seasonal events.  Residents continue to own and rent cottages seasonally and year round.  Due to excessive urban build-up in the outlying swamp tributaries to the Des Plaines River, the camp has been subject to flooding.  The camp is working with local agencies and universities to address flood mitigation and water management.


THE FUTURE. With renewed interest in the preservation and restoration of this historic gemstone, plans are underway to elevate, preserve, and restore the cottages and public buildings, with assistance from FEMA, IEMA and other organizations, with additional plans for the camp to serve as a Regional Education Center for Sustainability and Permaculture Studies.


THE PILLARS: The 4 pillars of Chautauqua's involve programming for arts, education, religion & recreation to build community and lay a foundation for people to develop intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Historically, Chautauquas provided "families of faith" a place to bond with each other by visiting the same summer houses on the property year after year.

THE LIVING LAB:  Serve as a model for sustainable community development, exhibiting the progression of residential housing from the 1870’s to the present, by incorporating sustainable technologies and design into the community (Buildings, Land, Infrastructure, Programming).  Students will address Flood & Hazard mitigation to show how innovative housing design reduces the long-term risk of flood damage, loss of life, and property due to natural hazards. 

100 Cottages * 100 Colleges * 100 Architects * 100 Businesses


PARTNERS: Collaborate with Colleges, Universities, Architects, Trades & Others to provide service-learning opportunities in all areas of campus revitalization including but not limited to: 

Carpentry                                                Plumbing                                          Electrical

Masonry, Tile, Brick                               Roofing                                             Cooking

Gardening                                               Teaching                                            Architecture & Design

Energy Conservation                             Preservation                                     Waste Management

Biology                                                     Clean Energy                                   Marketing & Communications

Web & Graphic Design                          Social Media                                     Technology

Graphic Design                                       Film Production                              Fundraising

Performing Arts                                      Bee Keeping                                     Business Development


© 2020 Website by Shift2Green


© 2020 Logo  The Grants Network

Project Lead

P. 773.895-8738


Find us: 

The Chicago District Campground

1900 E. Algonquin Road

Des Plaines, IL 60016

1 (847) 636-6355

© Photo Credits Stan Kotecki