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Adult Opportunities

Backpacking Basics (in person)

Deepen your connection to trees and nature by learning to backpack.

Content Detail

A backpacking trip into the wilderness is a unique way to connect with nature, but it’s important to have the right “know-how” so you can enjoy your backpacking trip safely—and protect the place you’re visiting!   

In this backpacking workshop at The Morton Arboretum, you will learn   

  • tips for planning a safe and fun trip for your group,   
  • what to wear and what to pack, (gear, clothing, and footwear)  
  • advice on backpacking food and meal planning,  
  • best practices in wilderness hygiene,  
  • water filtration,  
  • safety basics, and  
  • leave no trace (LNT) principles.  

Then participants will head out onto the trails to practice some skills. The class will discuss what makes a good campsite, how to set up camp, backcountry cooking and food storage, and leaving no trace. Your instructors will answer your questions and share insights gleaned from time on the trail.  

Instructor: Spencer Campbell and Brooke Pudar  

Health and Safety: Program participants must abide by the Arboretum’s health and safety guidelines. Guidelines are subject to change, so please check back frequently.   

Age: 16 and older  



Spencer Campbell, program coordinator, collections volunteers, The Morton Arboretum  

Spencer Campbell has over a decade of experience in ecological restoration and environmental education. He is a self-professed “plant geek” who is eager to share his knowledge of the native flora and fauna of the Midwest. As the collections volunteer program coordinator at The Morton Arboretum, his current focus is providing opportunities for the public to participate in land stewardship and equipping them with the skills to lead natural resource management projects in their own communities.  

An active hiker and outdoor enthusiast, he is a firm believer that the sweetest feeling in the world is waking up in the backcountry with everything you need to survive for a couple of days tucked inside your knapsack. He is trained in sustainable trail construction and design and is a certified Leave No Trace Trainer. His backpacking experience stretches from the Sequoias to the Appalachian Mountains, including California, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Vermont.   

Brooke Pudar, adult learning programs specialist, The Morton Arboretum

Since 2015, Brooke Pudar has facilitated opportunities for adults to develop new skills and knowledge about nature at The Morton Arboretum. Prior to her role at the Arboretum, she developed educational curricula for youth and professionals. She received a bachelor’s in English education from the University of Illinois. Pudar is a volunteer leader for Sierra Club’s Chicago Inspiring Connections Outdoors, which provides access to nature to underserved youth, an organizer for the Chicagoland Backpackers MeetUp, and is certified in Wilderness First Aid through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Brooke Pudar spends most of her backpacking trips in the Mountain West, including California, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. She loves solo backpacking and exploring remote parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.   

What to Know    

Held indoors and outdoors. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.   

Plan to walk at least a mile over varied terrain.   

Bring water and your favorite hiking snack. 

Program Schedule

Thursday, June 15, 2023, 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  

Thornhill Education Center


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