There are Bears from Chicago invading Central Illinois in July. No joke! And they mean business. That’s right: Chicago Bears training camp opens in Bourbonnais on Thursday July 27.
They also want you to visit! Admission and parking are FREE, and there are special family days to mark down on your calendar. There’s also lot of NEW features and special events, and almost everything is FREE. (Need your Bears gear? Check out the Amazon fan shop.)
NEW this year: you must get tickets online to attend. The tickets are FREE, but this means you need to do a little bit of planning ahead. Also, practice times have been changed from years past.
The Bears will be in residence at their preseason training facility on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University starting on Thursday, July 27. Camp will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m with practice going from 11:15 a.m. to 1:25 p.m. (here is a link to the complete schedule). This year they will spend two weekends in Bourbonnais, if you can’t get there during the week.
It’s not just the Bears practicing is the main attraction. There are activities and fun providing a carnival-like atmosphere. Attractions open every day of camp include:
- A Fun zone with a variety of entertainment for youth of all ages, including inflatables, video game truck, Zorb Ball races, crafts and other activities. Height restrictions apply to certain activities.
- Staley’s Corner, which provides fun-filled entertainment for the entire family including a daily photo/ autograph opportunity with Staley (the Bears fuzzy mascot), as well as crafts and games!
- NEW: The Bears Mini Monsters Zone is new activity area with non-contact football drills that allow kids to show off their athleticism and football skills. Open daily for kids ages 6-13. Adult supervision for children is required and a waiver must be signed prior to entering the area.
There are many special events, including:
Vamos Bears Day is Saturday, July 29. Live music and salsa dancers in addition to kids’ activities, crafts, and alumni autographs. Radio partner Univision will have games, giveaways and more. Arrive early to receive a complimentary schedule magnet (while supplies last), face painting and enjoy special food offerings in celebration of Vamos Bears Day.
- Youth Football Day is Sunday, July 30. Youth football organizations and cheerleaders who attend and wear their team uniforms/jerseys can enter to win prizes, including Bears Autographed Memorabilia, Bears apparel and more. Youth Football Day attendees will be treated to a special performance by the Chicago Bears Drumline and enjoy fun activities and giveaways with the Chicago Bears Monster Squad.
- Ladies Day is Wednesday, Aug. 2. The Chicago Bears invite women of all ages to come out to Bears Training Camp. In addition to daily activities, there will be complimentary on-site salon and body art services, free chair and hand massages, a Pro Shop discount, special guest speaker, and an autograph session from some favorite Bears alumni.
- Armed Forces Day is Monday, August 7. Dedicated to the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country. Special reserved bleacher seating and an opportunity to participate in the post-practice autograph session will be available for those who dress in uniform. Autographs will be available for 150 Armed Forces Members. If you are interested in being part of Armed Forces Day, please contact the USO of Illinois for more information.
- Kids Day is Saturday, August 12. In addition to The End Zone activities and inflatables, fans can enjoy a video game trailer, rock climbing wall, face painters, balloon artists and a special Staley Da Bears Dance Express show at 10:30 a.m. Kids in attendance will also receive a complimentary Bears fidget spinner or foam waver, while supplies last.
- Bears Blue and Orange Day is Sunday, August 13. This day includes special performances by the Chicago Bears Drumline and appearances by the Chicago Bears Monster Squad. Show your pride and come check out some of the best Bears tailgating vehicles, take your picture with unique photo opportunities, and get an autograph from Bears alumni. Fans who get to the gates early will receive a Bears super-fan wig, while supplies last. Bear Down!
- Gatorade Junior Training Camps will be held on 7/30 and 7/31. This pre-registered football camp is for middle school tackle football players. Before the Camp grounds open to the public, 150 players will participate in this 90-minute football clinic aimed to improve player’s football skills and knowledge and to learn about proper hydration techniques. Contact [email protected] for more information.
- Kids Only Autograph Days: 150 kids ages 4-12 will receive a pass good for that day’s kids-only autograph session. Fans with passes should be in line 30 minutes before the end of practice to secure their spot in line. Kids only autograph dates: 7/29, 7/31, 8/3, 8/7 (Armed Forces Personnel), and 8/12.
IF YOU GO: Trip takes about 90 minutes from Champaign-Urbana. Take I-57 north. Follow the signs to get to training camp! There are large electronic signs on the highway. These directions came from the Bears website: Take the IL-50 exit (exit 315). Keep right and travel north on IL-50. Turn left (west) onto E4000N Rd/Larry Power Rd. Turn left (south) onto Rt. 45/52. Turn left onto University Avenue. At the stop sign, follow the curve left and enter campus on Nielson Drive.
If you go, let us know how much fun you had!