In observance of Earth Day, between 15 and 20 people gathered Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, to camp at Kayak Morris' new campsite in Morris and to clean up both the Illinois River and the I & M Canal.
"Kayak Morris coordinated the grand opening of their new campground on Earth Day to further educate people about the outdoors and our natural resources," said Karin Lijana Matura, of Burr Ridge, Ill., a participant in both the camp out and the river clean-up.
The new campsite, Forest Beach VIP Camp, is located east of the William G. Stratton State Park along the Illinois River, and was "created out of a need to connect a variety of people and groups to recreational land and outdoor experiential learning," according to its website, kayakmorris.org.
"The whole weekend surrounded Earth Day," said Kayak Morris owner and the weekend's event coordinator, Janee Matteson. Everything they did was an effort to help or to become educated about the planet.
Saturday's events also included learning how to Geocache. Geocaching is an outdoor sport-like treasure hunt, with locations posted online that players find using Global Positioning System. Items inside the location's containers are available for trade, Matteson said.
If a player takes something from the cache, he or she must replace it with something else and document it in the location's logbook.
To learn more about Geocaching, visit www.geocaching.com.
"Geocaching takes fitness to a new level by combining fun with activity," Matteson said. There are Geocaches all along the I & M Canal, she added.
There was also a small river clean-up Saturday, but Sunday's four-hour-long cleaning was the main event. This was Kayak Morris' third year cleaning the river.
"We picked up trash while paddling along the shorelines," Matteson said. The trash collected was from the water and the shore.
Lijana Matura said she and the others picked up glass, plastic containers and "general litter" and packed it all into their boats.
Matteson said the group filled about 3 lawn and refuse bags with what they collected over the weekend.
Although it was a weekend of fun and activity, those that participated weren't there just for the thrill.
"Each of us plays a role in maintaining and preserving our natural resources," Lijana Matura said. She said this was her first Earth Day outing with Kayak Morris.
Matteson said she submitted the weekend's events to A Billion Acts of Green, an initiative to save the planet one act at a time.