Interpretation Through the Years at DEC Campgrounds
The practice of providing interpretive programs at Forest Preserve Campgrounds can be traced back to 1935. The following are excerpts from the 1935, 1936 and 1937 Conservation Department Annual Report to the Legislature.
In 1936, Mr. Marvin Wilson was the camp naturalist at Fish Creek Pond Campsite. The following excerpt reflects the Department's feelings about the program:
There is no reference to this program after 1937.
In the 1960's and early 1970's a Forest Preserve Interpretive Program was conducted by the Division of Educational Services in cooperation with the Division of Lands & Forests, which operated the DEC campgrounds. Each Interpreter conducted programs at three campgrounds, traveling between them each week. Three staff worked in the Adirondacks; one in the Catskills. Campgrounds that offered the programs included:
- Fish Creek Pond/Rollins Pond, Meacham Lake, Cranberry Lake
- Roger's Rock, Lake Luzerne, Hearthstone Point
- Moffitt Beach, Northampton Beach, Golden Beach
- North/South Lake, Devil's Tombstone, Woodland Valley
The program ended due to budget cuts in 1976.
Third Time's a Charm: 1982- Present
In 1982, a pilot Interpreter Activity Program was started at Fish Creek Pond Campground. From that point, the program evolved and grew into offerings at seven locations: Fish Creek Pond/Rollins Pond, Meacham Lake, Moffitt Beach, Cranberry Lake and Nicks Lake in the Adirondacks, Mongaup Pond and North/South Lake in the Catskills.
On October 3, 1996, twenty-two members of the Division of Operations and one representative from the Bureau of Environmental Education met in Lake George to discuss the future direction of the program. At that meeting, a partnership was formed between the Bureaus of Recreation and Environmental Education. The latter offered assistance with training, recruiting, and campground programming, while the former would maintain administration and management of the program. The partnership between the two Bureaus continues to work well, and the Department's customers benefit greatly from this program.
In 2002, the name of the program was changed from Interpreter Activity Program to Nature Recreation Program, and has continued to grow in popularity among campground users.