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For Release: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

State DEC and Parks Announce New York State First-Time Camper Program

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced that New York State will provide free First-Time Camper weekends throughout the summer in 2017. 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 7 through August 25, 2017.

"Camping is a rewarding experience that is one of the best ways for families to connect to nature and spend time with each other in the great outdoors and it's very affordable" said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "I encourage anyone that hasn't had a camping adventure in any of New York's many beautiful natural areas, to take advantage of this great new First-Time Camper program and give it a try."

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Active lifestyles strengthen mind, muscles, heart and lungs and New York State provides ample opportunity to run, walk, hike, swim, launch a canoe or kayak, or ride a bike especially near and around our campgrounds. New York States campgrounds and open space are affordable and offer an abundance of ways to keep a healthy way of life and strengthen social bonds."

Long-time campers know the enjoyment and rewards of sleeping under the stars, but for those who have never slept in a tent before, spending the night outdoors can be an unfamiliar adventure. New York State's First-Time Camper program will make trying camping for the first time easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities that have never camped before.

The new campers will be provided 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. To make the weekend getaway even more enjoyable, campers will have an opportunity to learn from experts how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle and more, all while having fun and making memories that last forever.

Author Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods shined a light on America's growing disconnect with nature - coining it "Nature Deficit Disorder." Initiatives such as the First-Time Camper program will give families a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the natural world around them.

Campgrounds are available throughout the state to give all New Yorkers an opportunity to participate. Campground locations are listed and linked below:

  1. 7/7-7/9 - North South Lake (Catskills)
  2. 7/14-7/16 - Wellesley Island State Park (link leaves DEC website)
  3. 7/21-7/23 - Paradox Lake (Adirondacks)
  4. 7/28-7/30 - Schodack Island State Park (link leaves DEC website)
  5. 8/4-8/6 - Kenneth L Wilson (Catskills)
  6. 8/11-8/13 - Green Lakes State Park (link leaves DEC website)
  7. 8/18-8/20 - Hearthstone Point (Adirondacks)
  8. 8/25-8/27 - Hamlin Beach State Park (link leaves DEC website)

Reservations are required and will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis starting May 17, 2017 from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. by calling 518-474-6718. For more information on the First-time Camper Weekend Program, visit DEC's website.

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