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Chicago Adventure Therapy



Using outdoor adventure sports like paddling, orienteering, camping, cycling, and rock climbing, Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) works with Chicago youth to have a lasting positive impact on their communities and become healthy adults by teaching effective social skills and strong leadership skills, increasing participants’ sense of possibility, and fostering a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility.


Safety, Community and a Long Future

We’re raising money to buy a new custom trailer and a 12 passenger van, and to secure our very own space for the first time!  Safety – We take our vehicle and trailer over a minimum of 4,000 miles of road every year. It’s enough that we need a commercial, heavy duty trailer. The number of youth we can take on our adventures is limited by the seating capacity of our mini van.  We need to be able to accommodate more people – and to tow a commercial trailer. We’ve been limited by the towing capacity of the vehicles we have – Andrea’s Subaru and a mini van.  Community – We’ve been headquartered out of Andrea’s home for our #First10Years. In our #Next10Years, we’re moving! We’re looking at industrial spaces in Chicago for our new home. We hope, long-term, that our new space will become a venue where our own indoor programs can run, where young people can drop in for support and mini adventures, and a gathering place for the broader community. A Long Future – Some day, Andrea will retire. Chicago Adventure Therapy will be around for a lot longer than when her retirement comes (it’s not coming anytime soon!). So we’re moving out of her home – CAT is growing up! You can head here for more information about our Capital Campaign. Or you can donate right now.

Summer 2019

Make sure to go to our “Meet the Team” page to meet the 2019 Leadership Team. (They’ve been dubbed “The Awesomest Staff Eva!”) They’re taking the reigns while Andrea is on sabbatical. Make sure to follow her sabbatical adventure on the West Coast.

 10th Anniversary!

We celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2018! We spent the year looking back in order to look forward.

Monthly photo contests

Throughout 2018,  we posted photo albums to Facebook with our 10 favorite photos from one year – and asked you to vote for your favorite.  In December, we asked you to choose the best photo from our first decade of programming. Here’s the winner! To see the winners from each month, check out this album.



10th Anniversary Videos

We also interviewed CAT youth and leaders. In 2018, we brought you videos sharing what they have to say about CAT. We have some more – so we’ll keep sharing in 2019! To see all the videos, you can watch on our YouTube channel or our Facebook page. This video was the first in a series about a particular Youth Intern – who became paid CAT staff.

Tiara: CAT’s first Youth Intern


Symington Family - 13 generations of wine producersPaddle in Portugal for CAT

Have the experience of a lifetime, and create opportunities for the experience of a lifetime for Chicago youth. Douro Kayak Expeditions and Algarve Kayaking are generously directing a portion of the proceeds for the trips they run in Portugal to CAT. Click here for information about the trips, how to book, and other questions you might have.

Calendar of Activities

Make sure to check our calendar tab to learn more about current programming and events!

Who We Work With

Chicago youth face overwhelming challenges every day. CAT works with and has worked with youth:

      • receiving or in need of mental health treatment
      • in or exciting the state foster care system
      • experiencing homelessness
      • experiencing poverty
      • who are gang-involved
      • who have experienced or are at-risk of interpersonal or community violence
      • who identify as LGBTQ
      • who are refugees from war-torn countries
You Make it Possible
We believe that no individual or agency should be unable to participate because of financial reasons, so we work with each referring agency to negotiate a realistic price for them. Over 50% of our budget is raised through the generous contributions of individuals like you.

*Chicago Adventure Therapy values and promotes diversity and inclusion in our organization, our programming, and our partnerships. We are dedicated to providing quality, safe, effective programming to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification or expression, body type, ability, income, religion, philosophy, and/or all other identities represented in our diverse city.