Department of Environmental Conservation

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Summer Camps

Colby, DeBruce, Rushford, and Pack Forest

DEC regrets to announce that its in-person summer camps program will not operate in 2021.

The health and safety of our campers and staff have always been the top priority for DEC summer youth camps. Camp staff worked diligently to review guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, American Camp Association, and other residential camps to develop a plan to be able to welcome campers this summer.

After careful consideration we determined there are too many uncertainties beyond our control to ensure our camps could open and operate safely.

While we are sad to make this announcement, we are making plans to create fun virtual opportunities for the summer of 2021 so campers and their families can stay connected to the DEC camp program.

Check out the DEC camps webpage to find out what we're planning and contact us at if you have any topics you'd like to see in our line-up. And mark your calendars-2022 is the 75th anniversary of the camp program and we want you to help us celebrate!

Watch a clip about DEC's summer camps and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Why Choose a DEC Camp?

DEC camp participants standing by river
DEC camps help instill a life-long passion
for nature and stewardship of
natural resources

DEC camps combine environmental education, hunter education programs, and outdoor recreation into an adventurous experience. We use a fun, hands-on approach to teach about the environment.

Campers will have the opportunity to learn outdoor skills including backpacking, camping and canoeing. First hand experiences in the outdoors have inspired many campers with a life-long passion for nature and a dedication to stewardship of our natural resources.

What's it like at an environmental education camp?

Campers will explore New York's diverse habitats, have the chance to learn basic ecological concepts and how human activities affect the environment. Campers solve challenges, explore environmental concepts, practice outdoor skills and spend the week immersed in nature.

All of the camps offer hunter education programs (hunting, bow hunting, and trapping) and archery.

Campers exploring during a lesson
Campers explore a stream
during a lesson group

See a typical week's schedule for Camps Colby, DeBruce and Rushford

See a typical Pack Forest weekly schedule

2021 Camp Season is CLOSED

A typical camp session runs Sunday through Friday. Check a typical season's schedules at all four camps. Summer Camp Season 2021 is CANCELLED due to COVID-19.

About our Camp Counselors

Camp counselor teaches campers about the forest
Our counselors are critical to the camps success

Our counselors are well-educated and committed to providing a great experience for all campers. Many of our staff are former campers, continuing the DEC Summer Camps tradition by returning to teach the next generation of campers. All environmental education camp counselors have at least two years of college in natural or biological sciences, natural resource conservation, recreation management, environmental education or primary and secondary education. Our counselors are all certified in First Aid and CPR/AED and have been checked through the NYS Sex Offenders Registry.

You can read more about the requirements for camps staff or learn how to apply by visiting the Employment at DEC Summer Camps page.

Cost and Sponsorships

DEC camp costs $350 per camper, per week. Many campers are sponsored by local conservation organizations, hunting and fishing clubs, garden clubs, and community groups. Talk with organizations in your area to find out if they offer sponsorships, and how to receive one. Sponsored campers must work with their sponsoring organization to receive sponsorship ahead of the January registration opening for camps. Read the 2020 Sponsor Letter (PDF) for more information.

Help Support DEC Camps

DEC camp donation logo
Click above to make
a donation (link leaves DEC website)

You can now donate online (link leaves DEC website) to help support the camps program. Donations may also be made in memory of loved ones. Funds raised for camperships help underwrite the costs for youth that otherwise would be unable to attend.

The camp donations are handled by the NHT (Natural Heritage Trust (link leaves DEC website)). It is a 501 (c) (3) charitable trust created to receive and administer gifts in support of parks, land and water conservation and outdoor recreation in New York State. The NHT works with DEC to administer and raise private funds for the camp program. Your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Click on the image at left to make a donation on line or follow the instruction below to donate by check.

Memorial donations should be sent to the DEC Camps account in the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT). The check should be made out to NHT, with DEC Camps written in the memo section. Please include a note with the name of the person in whose memory you are making the donation and the name of the family member who should receive a letter informing them of your contribution. Checks should be mailed to NHT Camps, c/o Director of Management & Budget Services, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-5010. NHT will send out acknowledgment letters to donors for tax purposes.

Learn More about Each Camp

Map of New York State showing the location of the camps
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Visit DEC's Summer Camps on Facebook!

Follow the links below to learn more about each camp. Campers must be the minimum age by December 1st of the camp year to attend. For the 2022 season, campers must be of age by December 1st, 2021.

  • Camp Colby (11 to 13 year-olds, 1 week for 14-17 year-olds) in Franklin County, next to the Adirondack Forest Preserve
  • Camp DeBruce (11 to 13 year-olds, 1 week for 14-17 year-olds) in the southern Catskills
  • Camp Rushford (11 to 13 year-olds, 2 weeks of 14-17 year-olds) in Allegany County
  • Camp Pack Forest (14 to 17 year-olds, 2 weeks of 11-13 year-olds) in the southern Adirondacks

Click on the Play button to view.

More about Summer Camps:

  • Camp Colby - This camp is located on the western shore of Lake Colby, just outside the Village of Saranac Lake.
  • Camp DeBruce - This camp is located in the Catskills, in Sullivan County about eight miles east of Livingston Manor, NY.
  • Camp Rushford - This camp is located on the Hanging Bog Wildlife Management Area in Allegany County about two miles southwest of Rushford Lake.
  • Pack Forest - Located in the southern Adirondacks, this camp is open to campers age 11 to 17 and is DEC's newest camp.
  • Camp Weeks and Availability - A listing of open and closed weeks for the environmental education camps.
  • How to Register for Camp - A how-to for parents to send their child to camp, including applications and deadlines.
  • Information for Camp Attendees - Forms, descriptions, and general information for youth attending Camp Colby, DeBruce, Rushford, and Pack Forest.
  • FAQ's about DEC Camp - FAQ's for the DEC Environmental Education Summer Camps.
  • Hunter Education at Camp - A decription of the Hunter Education Classes offered at the DEC summer camps
  • Sponsoring Youth to Camp - Steps for an organization sponsoring youth to the environmental education camps.
  • Employment at Education Camps - Seasonal employment opportunities at the four environmental education summer camps operated by the DEC.