As part of New York's Earth Day celebration, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will provide free First-Time Camper weekends this summer.

Last years program was so successful that this year's First-Time Camper series has been expanded to seven weekends and available to 65 families. It also includes a new, online lottery system selection process. The application signup period runs from May 10 to May 13. Participants will be randomly selected to fill first-time camper slots.

65 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.

New campers will be equipped 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. Campers can learn from experts on how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle and more, all while having fun and making memories that last forever.

Campgrounds are available throughout the state to give all New Yorkers an opportunity to participate.

DEC Campground locations are listed and linked below:

  1. 7/13-7/15 - North-South Lake (Catskills)
  2. 7/20-7/22 - Kenneth L Wilson (Catskills)
  3. 7/27-7/29 - Eighth Lake Campground (Adirondacks)
  4. 8/3 - 8/5 - Cranberry Lake Campground (Adirondacks)
  5. 8/10-8/12 - Hearthstone Point Campground (Adirondacks)
  6. 8/17 - 8/19 - Fish Creek Pond Campground (Adirondacks)

State Parks

  1. 7/13 - 7/15 - Darien Lakes State Park (Genesee Region)
  2. 7/20 - 7/22 - Four Mile Creek State Park (Niagara Region)
  3. 7/27 - 7/29 - Wellesley Island State Park (Thousand Islands Region)
  4. 8/3 - 8/5 - Taconic State Park - Copake Falls (Taconic Region)
  5. 8/10 - 8/12 - Fair Haven Beach State Park (Finger Lakes Region)
    1. 8/17 - 8/19 - Chenango Valley State Park (Central Region)
  6. 8/24 - 8/26 - Thompson's Lake at Thacher State Park (Saratoga Region)

For more information on the First-Time Camper Program, including how-to videos for campers, visit DEC's website.

[Information from DEC]

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