The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) have announced that New York will again provide free First-Time Camper weekends this summer.
Families that have never camped before will have the opportunity to see if they enjoy sleeping under the stars before investing in their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at select state campgrounds one weekend from July 13 through August 17.
This year’s program is being expanded to seven weekends and includes a new, online lottery system selection process. The application signup period for the new lottery system runs from May 10 to May 13. Participants will be randomly selected to fill first-time camper slots, according to DEC.
Last year’s pilot program included four camping weekends for five families each, with 20 total slots for State Parks and 20 slots for DEC campgrounds. Due to the success of the 2017 program, the 2018 program was expanded to include seven weekends for a total of 35 families for State Parks and 30 families for DEC campgrounds. In an announcement sent to the press, DEC described the program:
“Long-time campers know the enjoyment and rewards of sleeping out in nature, but for those who have never slept in a tent before, spending the night outdoors can be an unfamiliar adventure. New York’s First-Time Camper program makes trying camping easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities that have never camped before.
“New campers will be provided with a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, lantern, and even firewood. A Camping Ambassador will meet families at the campsite and help them get 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 how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle and more, all while having fun and making memories that last forever.”
DEC Campground locations can be found here.
For more information on the First Time Camper Program, including how-to videos for campers, visit DEC’s website.
Photo provided by DEC.