Last year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) launched a first-time camper program that gave new campers an opportunity to try this outdoor activity free of charge. Due to the overwhelming success of it, the 2018 program has been expanded, and a new random selection lottery system has been implemented.
What is the First-Time Camper Program?
Established in 2017, the first-time camper program was designed to allow families that have never camped before a chance to experience New York State’s beautiful campgrounds without having to purchase the necessary gear or equipment.
Participating families will enjoy a weekend of camping at a fully-stocked campsite, which includes a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, a lantern, and firewood. A Camp Ambassador will be on-site to provide campers with a camping 101 lesson, and local experts will give fishing, biking, hiking, bird-watching, and paddling demonstrations.
These free camping weekends are an amazing opportunity for new campers to make lasting memories together in the Adirondacks and throughout New York State.
How to Apply for the 2018 Program
To make the application process as fair as possible, a new online lottery system has been set up. The signup period to enter this lottery will run from May 10-13, 2018, and then participants will be randomly selected to fill the first-time camper slots.
Luckily, the DEC and Office of State Parks have also decided to expand the first-time camper program to include seven weekends for a total of 35 families at State Parks and 30 families at DEC campgrounds. Below you will find the list of participating locations and weekends:
- 7/13 – 7/15 – North-South Lake (Catskills)
- 7/20 – 7/22 – Kenneth L Wilson (Catskills)
- 7/27 – 7/29 – Eighth Lake Campground (Adirondacks)
- 8/3 – 8/5 – Cranberry Lake Campground (Adirondacks)
- 8/10 – 8/12 – Hearthstone Point Campground (Adirondacks)
- 8/17 – 8/19 – Fish Creek Pond Campground (Adirondacks)
- 7/13 – 7/15 – Darien Lakes State Park (Genesee Region)
- 7/20 – 7/22 – Four Mile Creek State Park (Niagara Region)
- 7/27 – 7/29 – Wellesley Island State Park (Thousand Islands Region)
- 8/3 – 8/5 – Taconic State Park – Copake Falls (Taconic Region)
- 8/10 – 8/12 – Fair Haven Beach State Park (Finger Lakes Region)
- 8/17 – 8/19 – Chenango Valley State Park (Central Region)
- 8/24 – 8/26 – Thompson’s Lake at Thacher State Park (Saratoga Region)
Will you be applying for the 2018 first-time camper program?