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Join the 2024 Take It Outside Challenge, which comes with a twist

Winter, spring, summer and fall are shown in this collage.

If you loved the Take It Outside Challenge in 2023 or wish you had joined or joined earlier, a new version of the popular program is underway.

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.

To keep things interesting, 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. This will give everyone a chance to regroup and pick and choose which times of year are best for them to compete. And this will help casual participants who found competing in a yearlong challenge too difficult. 

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 week 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 from the App Store or Google Play. Search for each seasonal challenge by name, or enter the join codes listed above. 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. 

Make sure you read the online rules before you begin competing. You can sign up for one or more or all four seasonal challenges on the Goosechase app. You can also sign up for each seasonal challenge as each one begins.

In 2023, many Take It Outside Challenge participants reported that the challenge got their competitive juices flowing and the experience was transformational. Stories poured in all year long 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. 

"It took some real dedication from those atop the leaderboard to do every single mission last year," said Chad Merda, the Forest Preserve's digital communications manager. "But we also know it could have been overwhelming for some, especially the casual users."

By breaking this year’s challenge into four seasonal segments, the Forest Preserve is hoping to get more people involved, discovering nature and new preserves and reaping the mental and physical health benefits those experiences offer. 

"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," Merda said.

Take It Outside hikes

To spur even more camaraderie for participants, the Forest Preserve District’s Visitor Services Department will be offeringTake It Outside Challenge hikes at different locations. 

Each hike will include missions that can be accomplished as a group. But don’t worry if you can’t make the specific hike, because you can always do the missions later to get points. 

The Take It Outside Challenge hikes are: Spring Fling on March 10 at Messenger Marsh; Summer Stroll on June 9 at Kankakee Sands Preserve, Fall Frolic on Sept. 8 on the Wauponsee Glacial Trail and Winter Walk on Dec. 8 at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve. 

Space is limited and registration is required for each hike. Registration for each hike opens approximately two months prior to the date of the hike.

Prizes

Each seasonal challenge will feature a variety of prizes. Mastercard gift cards in the amounts of $500, $250 and $150 will be awarded for first, second and third places, respectively. But you can only win a seasonal cash prize once. Additional prizes will be awarded:

  • Ten Take It Outside prize packs featuring Forest Preserve merchandise will be awarded randomly at the conclusion of each seasonal challenge.
  • Also each season, two special GPS missions will be released and anyone who completes these missions will be entered to win a $50 Forest Preserve gift card, which can be used for Forest Preserve permits, programs or merchandise at visitor centers. 
  • Each season, there will be two bird feeding prize pack missions. Anyone completing those specific missions will be entered in a drawing to win one of two prize packs valued at $135 and $228. The prizes are furnished by Wild Birds Unlimited in Joliet and winners will be chosen at the conclusion of each seasonal challenge. 
  • At the conclusion of all four seasonal challenges, anyone who finished in first, second or third place will be entered in a drawing for one of three $250 gift cards. In addition, $50 Mastercard gift cards will randomly be awarded to 10 people who participated in the seasonal challenges. 

The 2024 Take It Outside Challenge is sponsored by the Nature Foundation of Will County.

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