Northerly Island offers nature in the city

August 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Some city kids are already enjoying activities not normally offered in the center of a major city.

Do you stare at the stars or the skyline? That was the dilemma facing families Thursday night who camped out on Northerly Island.

"It was amazing because I can't get that view from my house. The view out here is really good," said 12-year-old James Moore.

James was just one of nearly 500 people who secured spots to camp this summer. There are also summer programs with activities from fishing to hiking, kayaking, archery and bike building. For some, like 13 year-old Joy Courtenay of Kenwood, it's their first time on a bike.

"I learned how to build a bike before I actually learned how to ride it," he said.

"In the middle of the city there's not much you can do involving nature. And you have to travel our really far to do it, so being able to do it here is really amazing," said 10-year-old Maya Meiners.

"They're experiencing the city first hand from a perspective, literally, they would never have been able to do unless we made it a priority," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel has the park district upgrading 50 more acres on the south end of Northerly Island due to be completed next year.

"It will be nature in the city," he said. We'll go back to the original idea of a city in a garden."

In the meantime, people are getting up close and personal with nature, in the heart of the city.

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