Bears 2014 training camp could be the most exciting one in many years.

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by JustAnotherBearsFan99, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Chicago Bears training camp is always an incredibly exciting experience. Always. But this year it shapes up to be an epic camp for the ages. No more "Camp Lovie" country club atmosphere where players used to lounge around the practice fields of Olivet Nazarene University, knowing their roster spots were assured no matter what they did, or didn't do.

    Those days are gone now, in a Marc Trestman heartbeat.

    The players who descend upon training camp in a few weeks will be fighting for roster spots - some will be fighting for their NFL lives, knowing that if they fail to make this roster, they may not make ANY roster. We will see epic battles on the practice fields this year.

    The utterly amazing thing is that Chicago Bears fans can watch these battles, in person, sometimes almost close enough to touch the players - for free. That just blows my mind. I dearly love going to Bears games. But for our family, it's pretty pricey to go to a game. But I can load up the car (or cars now that my son can drive & his buddies can too) and we can all attend Chicago Bears training camp for free. We can even bring our own food and drinks to keep costs down.

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    Fans at training camp. Notice how close you can get to the playing fields. The players are just a few yards from the ropes. How cool is that?

    No "nose bleed seats" like at the games where the players look like tiny ants down on the faraway field. At Bourbonnais you bring your comfy lawn chairs and coolers, and set up on a nice grassy hill overlooking the practice fields. The breeze up on that hill is pure heaven, as you watch your beloved Chicago Bears practice. If you see something you want to watch from a closer spot, you just walk on over to the practice field that has the action you're wanting to watch more closely. I like to move from field-to-field like this, watching the different units. I'm always watching the offensive line first (love watching them work the sled & go through the various drills). Then I may wander over to see Matt Forte and the RB's do their thing. From there I just go wherever I want, any time I want. It's all "there" and it's free.

    How cool is that?

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    I began bringing my son, Michael, to Bears camp when he was a little guy. I'd bring his friends too. They'd just about have a stroke they'd be so excited, when one of their player-heroes would sign an autograph for them. My son is a young man now in college, but his bedroom here at home still has photographs of Bears present and past that signed autographs for him. You also get an opportunity to see how kind and patient some of the players are with fans, especially the children. There is a roped-off area that the players go through to get to the practice fields, and of course they return this same way after practice. The fans can line up along the ropes and try to get player autographs. There's no guarantee that you will get one, but we've always had success getting an autograph or two (or more) every time we've been to a training camp over the past several years.

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    The Olivet Nazarene University campus is a beautiful place to visit. Parking is free. You can walk everywhere you need to go to see the action. And if you want to spend a few days or more at Bourbonnais, there are some very reasonable places to stay. Most of the rooms go for $100 or less (sometimes a lot less). The Fairfield Inn there is considered one of the better places to stay. There's also a Hampton, Holiday Inn and a Comfort Inn - all fairly close to the University. The rates at these places are a fraction of what you would pay for a room in Chicago, to stay in when you go to a game.

    If (like us) you're trying to keep food and drink costs down, you can stop at the Subway (or similar place) just outside of the campus and pick up some sandwiches. You are NOT allowed to bring in any glass containers or alcohol, but other than that, they're fine with fans bringing in food and drinks. On hot summer days it's nice having a picnic up on that grassy hill with your family as you watch the practice. I'd rather be there munching a Subway sandwich than eating the finest Chicago cuisine in the city - a picnic watching the Bears is pure heaven on earth.

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    For Bears fans coming in by air, you can fly into O'Hare, rent a car and be in Bourbonnais in a bit over an hour. It's not far. It can be a fairly cheap vacation getaway since lodging and food is pretty reasonable - and good. If you want to check out the better eating spots and plan ahead, I'd suggest checking out the Tripadvisor.com web site for Bourbonnais. The restaurants are not fancy, but the food is outstanding - and you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to eat like a king there. Here is the link to the Tripadvisor web site for Bourbonnais:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g35704-Bourbonnais_Illinois-Vacations.html

    Finally, the Chicago Bears have an excellent web page that posts the actual training camp schedule, and it has other good resources too. Here is the link:

    http://www.chicagobears.com/events/training-camp.html

    I'd especially pay attention to what is, and isn't allowed to bring into camp. Basically no booze or glass bottles. Anyway, I hope to see some of you there this year. It could be the best Chicago Bears training camp ever!

    p.s. I do plan on covering this year's training camp for DaBears.com for those who can't attend this year. I'll also try to post a lot of photographs for folks to see. Rick (Ski-Whiz), thanks for letting me write some of these for the web site, I appreciate it!

    - Dave
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
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  2. a_miljan

    a_miljan Veteran

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    Beautiful reading, now I wish I could join your crew, sure sounds like a blast!
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  3. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    I recommend Niro's Gyros instead of Subway... (I can't stomach ANY national chain fast-food)

    [​IMG]
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  4. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Sometimes we just bring food from home. Fill up the cooler and we're all "set" for the day. You can also buy food at the training camp too, and it can be pretty good. We usually stop at a restaurant on the way back home too. It just makes for a really fun day. I'm located in Bloomington Illinois, so we're about a 90 minute drive away from Bourbonnais.
  5. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I really am envious of all of you guys who are within shouting distance of Boubonnais. It would so much damn fun to attend. Maybe next year I can coordinate my annual trip back to Wisconsin around spending a few days down there to watch the activities.
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  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Ya need to book a Chicago tour Soul.

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  7. BearJim

    BearJim Veteran SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Good article 99. I would love to go to training camp someday. I'd probably spend at least a week!
  8. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    And not being on Hard Knocks means we miss the good stuff and have to learn about everything second hand

    Boooooo
  9. Bearstuff

    Bearstuff Yes, in the woods. Staff Member SuperFan

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    I'm jealous too. TC isn't really a possibility for a guy from VA, so I plan to read your reports will great interest. Thanks for taking the time...
  10. rich1978

    rich1978 Veteran

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    try living in Singapore!

    keep the reports coming mate, good reading! Sounds like a blast
  11. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Had the chance to go for the first time last year and my wife nixed it, seemed to think 2 plane tickets were less expensive then me driving back up and getting my son from family. Was really wanting to see and get a feel for it.

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