Hidden gems in city parks

Chicago Park District offers unique, innovative programs for kids and adults alike

10/03/2012 10:00 PM

Igor Studenkov
Contributing Reporter

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Every season, the Chicago Park District offers dozens and dozens of athletic, cultural and generally recreational activities for kids and adults. Some are available throughout most of the system, while others are only available at certain locations.

Many of those activities are what one would expect from any large park system: Sports teams, fitness classes, after school clubs, etc. Yet, at the same time, the park district offers a number of interesting, innovative and unique activities that tend to get lost in the crowd. This fall season is no exception.

For children between the ages of 9 and 13 who’d like to unleash their inner Robin Hood, West Town’s Pulaski Park offers archery lessons every Tuesday and Thursday between 4:30 and 5.30 p.m. in the park’s main auditorium. Children will learn basic rules and fundamentals of archery, and develop basic archery skills. The park district will provide the equipment, and the lessons are free.

For the more scientifically inclined children, the Lincoln Park Cultural Center offers a young scientist program. Open to kids ages 7 to 13, the program will ask the kids to explore their surrounding and learn about science through various projects. The program costs $30 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.

Artistically-minded kids can take advantage of cartooning classes that will be held at West Town’s Eckhart Park every Friday. The classes will take place between 4 and 5:30 p.m., and they will be open to kids ages 7 to 12. Kids will learn more than just how to draw cartoons — the instructor will help them develop their own style and teach them how to use symbolism and humor to make their cartoons more effective.

Even during the fall, the park district still has some outdoor activities. The Lincoln Park Cultural Center offers the Outdoor Explorers program for kids ages 7 to 13. Taking advantage of the vast Lincoln Park grounds, the program will take kids on hikes as they explore natural habitats and learn how to tie knots and orientate themselves. The program costs $30 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.

Production is an important part of any play. The production staff is invisible on stage, yet without them, there would be no lighting, no sets, no music and no sound cues. For the kids who want to get into this under-appreciated field, the Lincoln Park Cultural Center offers play production classes.

There are two sets of lessons offered during the fall season. Kids between the ages of 6 and 11 can sign up for Monday/Wednesday classes, which will take place between 4:00 and 5 p.m. Kids between the ages of 11 and 13 can sign up for Tuesday/Thursday classes, which will take place during the same time slot. In both cases, the fees are $36 for residents and $72 for non-residents.

For older kids who are interested in taking more active role in their community, the Teen Leadership Club may just be the ticket. Open to teens ages 13 to 18, the club gives them opportunities to improve the park and have some fun in the process. It will teach leadership skills and encourage teens to think creatively.

The club has branches in various parks throughout the city, including Gold Coast’s Lake Shore Park, Wrightwood Park and the West Loop’s Skinner Park. The times and fees vary a great deal depending on the location, so applicants are encouraged to check each individual park before applying.

In addition to offering a variety of programs aimed at children, the Park District offers a number of adult-oriented activities. For the more artistic minded adults, the Lincoln Park Cultural Center offers jewelry making classes that are opened to beginners and more experienced jewelry artists alike.

There are two classes, both held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Both classes are held on Saturdays between 1 and 4 p.m., but the Tuesday times are different. The first class is held between 1 and 4:30 p.m., while the second class is held between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. In both cases, fees are $110 for residents and $220 for nonresidents.

Adult who are looking for a more physical challenge can take advantage of fencing lessons held at the Pulaski Park. The lessons will be held every Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

The lesson will focus on attack and defense techniques while maintaining proper forms. The lessons cost $125 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

All fall activities began the week of Sept. 24, and continue until the week of December 9. All activities require prior registration, and all slots are filled on first-come, first-serve basis, so applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

We are no longer accepting new comments on ChicagoJournal.com