If you loved the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Take It Outside Challenge in 2023 or wish you had joined, a new version of the popular program will launch on Sunday, Jan. 21.
The 2023 yearlong challenge drew more than 1,200 participants who completed around 115,000 nature-themed missions ranging from GPS check-ins at various locations, photos of nature scenes and wildlife, selfies and trivia questions. This year’s challenge comes with a twist. Instead of a yearlong competition, the 2024 program will be divided into seasonal challenges with breaks between each one.
The nine-week Take It Outside seasonal challenges are:
- Winter Workout: Sunday, Jan. 21, through Saturday, March 30 (join code 6X9K34)
- Spring Fling: Sunday, April 14, through Saturday, June 15 (join code V813P4)
- Summer Soiree: Sunday, June 30, through Saturday, Sept. 21 (join code BD13J5)
- Fall Frolic: Sunday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Dec. 14 (join code ED7MGP)
Each Sunday during the challenges, 10 missions will be released and participants will complete challenges to earn points and prizes. To participate, download the free Goosechase smartphone app. Search for each seasonal challenge by name or enter the join codes listed above and sign up for one or more of the challenges. Then, read the online rules on the Forest Preserve District’s website, ReconnectWithNature.org. Point totals will be listed on a leaderboard in the Goosechase app so you can see how you and others are doing in the competition.
In 2023, stories poured in all year from participants about how the missions were getting people to walk more than they had in years, lose weight, discover Will County’s preserves, feel better mentally and physically and make new friends. The new seasonal format should allow more people to participate in 2024, said Chad Merda, the Forest Preserve’s digital communications manager.
“Even if people only do one seasonal challenge, we’re hoping that’s the start of a renewed love for nature and a new routine of using the forest preserves with more regularity,” he said.
The Forest Preserve also will be offering Take It Outside Challenge hikes at different locations. Each hike will include missions that can be accomplished as a group, but missions also can be completed later by those who don’t attend the hikes. Registration will open two months before each hike on the online Event Calendar. Space is limited.
Seasonal challenge winners will receive $500, $250 and $150 Mastercard gift cards for first, second and third places, respectively. You can only win a seasonal cash prize once. At the conclusion of the seasonal challenges, first-, second- and third-place finishers will be entered in a drawing for one of three $250 gift cards.
Those who complete specific bird-feeding missions each season will be entered in a drawing to win one of two prize packs valued at $135 and $228 from Wild Birds Unlimited in Joliet. Additional prize packs and gift cards will be awarded at random for participants. For more information on prizes and the challenge, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.
The 2024 Take It Outside Challenge is sponsored by the Nature Foundation of Will County.