Hobo Jungle, an H-F tradition, lets kids learn about tools, build summer structures

  Campers working on a structure at Hobo Jungle.
  (Provided photos)
For decades, Hobo Jungle camp has been offered during the summer by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District. And in all that time, it’s never lost its spirit of adventure and ingenuity.
Hobo Jungle teaches its campers how to use basic carpentry tools while building themed, full-sized structures. 
  Campers at his year's
  Hobo Jungle.

This year, for the first time, Hobo Jungle took place every day regardless of the weather. On rainy days, campers were able to meet indoors at Park Place, a multi-use facility at Flossmoor Park.
Hobo Jungle campers learn responsibility and how to work with others while having fun and working with tools.
The goal of the park district is to be impactful and make learning enjoyable and easy. 
“First and foremost, we just want to get kids outside and get them active, especially because it’s summertime,” Recreation Supervisor Amanda Gaus said. “We really just want to teach them the basics and get them interested in structural building.
“We want to get them using tools like hammers and teach them how to nail a nail into wood and how to pull a nail out of wood, how to saw things, how to find what to saw and measure before any sawing takes place.”
After that, Gaus said, it’s all about showing campers how to build sound structures.
“Not sound (as in) meaning a well-built structure that is livable,” she said. “But sound as in the structure will stay up overnight.” 
Every year, there is a great turnout for Hobo Jungle and this summer was no different. There were three sessions this year for kids ages 7 to 13.
“I think the reason we keep people coming back is kind of two-fold, one reason is being nostalgia,” Gaus said. “We know family, and have friends, who were in the camp when they were growing up. If they have stayed in the area, their kids are now in the camp. 
“Also, I think Hobo Jungle is a super-unique experience and there’s not much else out there like it. So what keeps people coming back is something about its craft and its uniqueness of getting to use tools every day.”
The history of Hobo Jungle runs deep through the Homewood-Flossmoor area and is considered by many to be a summer tradition. Hobo Jungle leaves its campers with memories, friendships and experiences that are built to last for lifetimes. 
 While the camp is supposed to be fun and entertaining it takes responsible and attentive counselors to ensure camp-goers maximize their experience.
“We offer special training to counselors,” Gaus said. “Safety is our number one priority, so we mandate the extra training. We really look for people who have a special level of creativity and a passion for using their hands, as well as someone who doesn’t mind getting down and dirty.
“Our kids go home covered in dirt and paint.”

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