New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 2020 Summer Camps program will open Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 1 p.m. Applications should be submitted through the online registration program available through a link from the Summer Camps webpage. Parents and guardians are encouraged to register early since some of the weeks fill up quickly.
Now in its 73rd year, the DEC Summer Camps program offers week-long adventures in conservation education for children ages 11-17. DEC operates four residential camps for children: Camp Colby in Saranac Lake (Franklin County); Camp DeBruce in Livingston Manor (Sullivan County); Camp Rushford in Caneadea (Allegany County); and Pack Forest in Warrensburg (Warren County).
In response to parent feedback, DEC revised the schedule to better accommodate families. This year, 14- to 17-year-old campers will have more sessions available earlier in the summer, as children in this age range often have schedule conflicts later in the summer. In addition, DEC updated camp offerings to address the high demand for programming for 11- to 13-year-olds.
Camps Colby and DeBruce will offer one week of programing for children ages 14-17. Camp DeBruce will offer six weeks for ages 11-13. Camp Colby will offer four weeks for ages 11-13. Camp Pack Forest will continue to host children aged 14-17 for six weeks and ages 11-13 for two weeks. Camp Rushford will continue to offer two weeks of programming for children aged 14-17 and five weeks of programming for ages 11-13. The complete schedule of camp weeks and ages is available on the Summer Camps webpage.
Campers will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outdoor adventures and are encouraged to try new things. Activities may include fishing, bird watching, fly-tying, archery, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering, and hunter safety education.
One hunter education program for either gun, bow, or trapping is offered at each camp each week. Class size is limited for hunter education programs and campers must sign up during registration and complete the homework in advance.
Along with adventure experiences, DEC campers engage in fun, hands-on activities and outdoor exploration focused on field, forest, stream, and pond ecological principles. Campers might collect insects in a field, use nets in a stream, investigate soil composition, measure tree sizes, or practice taking field notes and writing in journals. Trips to nearby state lands might include kettle bogs, state parks, fish hatcheries, or nature museums.
Camp Pack Forest will offer “Outdoor Adventure Week” during Week 6 (August 2-7). DEC encourages teens aged 14 to 17 who love being outdoors to sign up for this popular program. During this week, campers will develop hands-on outdoor skills that go above and beyond the traditional camp week. In addition to typical camp activities, campers may be engaged in team- and trust-building activities, forestry, citizen science, conservation science, and more. Guest DEC and natural resource professionals will introduce campers to a variety of career options.
All four camps offer five one-week sessions (Sunday to Friday) beginning Jun. 28, 2020; DeBruce and Rushford are open for seven weeks and Pack Forest operates for eight weeks. Drop-off time is 3 p.m. on Sunday, and the closing ceremony and pick-up time is Friday at 4:30 p.m. One week of camp remains $350 per child for 2020, and includes meals, trips, and a camp t-shirt.
In addition to inviting parents and guardians to register children to participate in the DEC environmental education Summer Camps program, sporting clubs, civic groups, and environmental organizations are encouraged to sponsor one or more children for a week at camp. Groups that deposit funds to sponsor six paid campers in one transaction will receive a scholarship to send a seventh child to camp for free. The seventh camper will use a sponsorship code generated by the Albany Camps administration. Information about becoming a sponsor and managing sponsor accounts is available at on DEC’s website.
For more information, please visit the DEC website, call 518-402-8014, visit “NYS DEC Summer Camps” on Facebook, or write to DEC Camps, 3rd Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-5256.