Help Chicago's under-served youth by donating to Chicago Adventure Therapy today.

Click here to donate to CAT now.

Get Chicago Adventure Therapy news delivered right to your inbox. Sign up for our e-newsletter today!

Follow all the latest happenings on the CAT Adventure Blog.

A big thanks to the organizations who have supported us recently:

Chicago Adventure Therapy

risk assessment


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.

Let’s Talk About Race

In January, a group of CAT youth and young adults started planning a presentation called “Let’s Talk About Race.” They presented it at the Quiet Adventures Symposium in February. The first weekend of March they met to make a few changes before presenting it at Canoecopia. Then a global pandemic intensified and within a week and a half we were under a Stay at Home Order. In March, a smaller group of young adults recorded this online version.

We think this topic is ALWAYS timely. We hope it will be a useful addition to the current discussion about race in this country, and in the outdoor communities and industry.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments. Remember that this is an online medium, where it can be easy to be impersonal, anonymous, or rude.
Please don’t behave that way. Ask your questions with respect – we will assume they come from a place of “not knowing.”

PS – This was early in the world of Zoom. We hope you’ll cut us a little slack about the quality of the video recording.

Coronavirus Updates

June 15, 2020: Chicago is currently in Phase 3 of Protecting Chicago, the City’s phased plan to re-open businesses. Outdoor recreation, summer programs and youth programs are all expected to open at some time during this phase. The City has released guidelines for outdoor recreation, but not for summer programs or youth programs. CAT has self-certified to open in Phase 3 and is waiting on announcements that summer and youth programs have opened and/or the release of industry guidelines. We have studied the State’s guidelines for these program thoroughly.

CAT held the first day of staff training today with a reduced staff size. You can follow these links for  detailed information about our COVID policies and procedures and our risk assessment.

March 2020:

This is a challenging, unpredictable, surreal time. We hope that you, your family, and your loved ones are OK – and we know that many people aren’t OK right now.

We want to share with you our plans for dealing with the coronavirus.

As always, our young people are our first priority. We are checking in with young people, providing resources for support where they need it (the most common request for resources has been information about where to get food), and offering a listening ear where people need it. In person programming is on hold for now; we are taking as much online as we can.  

We have contacted all partner agencies about summer programming. We are working to be ready to re-start programming as quickly as possible when it’s safe to do that, without asking partner agencies to pay for programming that might not happen. Our goal is to be safe, flexible and nimble.

We are developing financial strategies to weather the worst case scenario. For now, we are considering “worst case scenario” to mean the loss of the full Summer 2020 season. We hope this will not be the reality; and believe it is irresponsible not to plan for this eventuality.

You can help. Revenue this time of year and for the next several months usually comes from early summer public programs and our “regular” summer programming. With the delay or loss of summer programming, we will lose revenue this time of year. You can help in the following ways:

  • If you have not donated to CAT, we hope you will
  • If you have donated in past years, we hope you will consider changing your donation to a recurring monthly donation
  • If you usually give at the end of the year, we hope you will consider giving earlier this year

All of these actions help to even out our cash flow, which will help us keep our doors open for another season, helping young people get outdoors and develop the skills to successfully navigate a quickly changing, challenging world.

Thank you so much.

Please stay safe.

– Andrea Knepper, LSCW | Founder and Executive Director



Who We Work With

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


    • in or exiting the state foster care system
    • experiencing homelessness or unstable housing
    • receiving or in need of mental health treatment
    • experiencing poverty
    • who are gang-involved
    • who have experienced interpersonal or community violence
    • who identify as LGBTQ
    • who are refugees from war-torn countries



 Youth Videos: Tiara, CAT’s first Youth Intern


Calendar of Activities

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


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.