DEC Announces First-Time Camper Weekend Program for 2023 Season

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Announces First-Time Camper Weekend Program for 2023 Season

Popular Free Program Returns to Help More New Yorkers Share the Outdoors Through Camping

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the return of the First-Time Camper Program for the 2023 season. New York families that have never camped before will have the opportunity to try camping in the great outdoors before making the significant investment to purchase their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select DEC-operated campground for a designated weekend this summer.

"I am excited to once again welcome first-time campers to DEC's world-class campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve," Commissioner Seggos said. "The First-Time Camper Program has successfully introduced New Yorkers to the great outdoors for several years, introducing 350 novice campers to outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, boating, and birding. DEC's knowledgeable and experienced Camping Ambassadors are ready to assist first-time campers with every facet of their adventure to ensure a good time is had by all."

Long-time campers know the enjoyment and rewards of camping, but for those who have never slept in a tent, spending the night outdoors can be an unfamiliar challenge. New York State's First-Time Camper Program makes sleeping under the stars for the first time easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities, that have never camped before. Hear from some of the hundreds of campers who have participated by viewing videos from the program.

Journalist and author Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods shined a light on America's growing disconnect with nature - coining it "Nature Deficit Disorder." Initiatives such as the First-Time Camper Program provide participants a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the natural world.

From now until June 23, 2023, potential first-time campers are encouraged to enter a lottery by completing the survey. Those entering the lottery must choose one facility from locations in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve:

  • North South Lake Campground (Catskills) - July 7-9
  • Ausable Point Campground (Adirondacks) - July 14-16
  • Luzerne Campground (Adirondacks) - July 21-23
  • Cranberry Lake Campground (Adirondacks) - July 28-30
  • Nicks Lake Campground (Adirondacks) - August 4-6
  • Frontier Town Campground (Adirondacks) - August 11-13
  • Kenneth L. Wilson Campground (Catskills) - August 18-20
  • Mongaup Pond Campground (Catskills) - August 25-27

Participants will be randomly selected to fill camper slots. More information on the program can be found by visiting DEC's website.

Participating campers will be provided with a tent for their camping party, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, a lantern, and firewood. A Camping Ambassador will meet participants at the campsite and help them get their camp set up with a 'Camping 101' lesson. Bathrooms and hot showers are a short walk from the campsites. To make the weekend getaway even more enjoyable, campers will have an opportunity to learn from experts about how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle, and more, all while having fun and making memories that last forever.

For more information on DEC-operated campgrounds, including a list of campgrounds and schedules, visit DEC's website or call DEC's Bureau of Recreation at (518) 457-2500. To make reservations at any of these camping facilities, call ReserveAmerica at 1-800-456-CAMP (2267) or visit the Reserve America website.