Thursday, July 25th, 2024

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Thursday, July 25th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

New York DEC announces 2024 first-time camper program to help get families outdoors

New York DEC will provide camping parties with a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, a lantern, and firewood for a weekend of fun. (Stock photo)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar announced the return of the popular First-Time Camper Program for the 2024 season.

New York families that have never experienced camping will have the opportunity to try camping and other recreational activities in the great outdoors by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select DEC-operated campground for a designated weekend this summer. 

“DEC’s introductory program for first-time campers is back and I am honored to welcome even more New Yorkers to check out great campgrounds in the Adirondacks and Catskills,” Mahar said. “The First-Time Camper Program is an excellent way to get more New Yorkers outdoors and introduce them to the Empire State’s unparalleled natural beauty with the help of camping ambassadors who assist new campers with all the basics. The program gives those who have never camped before the opportunity to sleep under the stars, as well as experience myriad outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, boating, birding, and more.” 


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New York State’s First-Time Camper Program makes camping easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities who may be unfamiliar with camping and the planning and supplies required to ensure the most enjoyable experience.

DEC will provide camping parties with a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, a lantern, and firewood for a weekend of fun. Bathrooms and hot showers are a short walk from the campsites.

A camping ambassador will meet participants at the campsite and help set up camp with a camping 101 lesson. Campers will have an opportunity to learn from experts how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle, and more.

Learn more from just a few of the hundreds of campers who have previously participated in the First-Time Camper program by viewing videos on the DEC website

Potential first-time campers are encouraged to enter the lottery beginning June 13 until June 20, 2024. Participants will then be randomly selected to fill camper slots. More information on the program can be found by visiting DEC’s website

Those entering the lottery must choose one facility from the participating locations in the Adirondacks and Catskills: 

North South Lake Campground (Catskills) – July 12-14 

Ausable Point Campground (Adirondacks) – July 19-21 

Luzerne Campground (Adirondacks) – July 26-28 

Cranberry Lake Campground (Adirondacks) – August 2-4 

Northampton Beach Campground (Adirondacks) – August 9-11 

Mongaup Pond Campground (Catskills) – August 16-18 

Kenneth L. Wilson Campground (Catskills) – August 23-25 

For more information on DEC-operated campgrounds, including a list of campgrounds and schedules, visit DEC’s website, or call DEC’s Bureau of Recreation at 518-457-2500. To make reservations at any of these camping facilities, call ReserveAmerica at 1-800-456-CAMP (2267) or visit

The First-Time Camper Program is offered through DEC’s Adventure NY initiative and Division of Operations, which support making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active, outdoor recreation; connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors; protect natural resources; and boost local economies. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative on DEC’s website.

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