A pilot program beginning in 2017, New York's 1st-time campers program returns for a third year. The Department of Environmental Conservation will provide a free camping weekend with all the gear and even someone to help with setup. Here's when and where camping will be available.

The First Time Camper Program runs June 21 thru September 6 at select campgrounds and state parks throughout the state. The state will provide basic gear; a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, lantern, and firewood. A "Camping Ambassador" will even assist in setting up camp, share fishing knowledge, hiking, bird watching, paddling, and other recreational opportunities. Bathrooms and hot showers are even within walking distance.

Again this year, the state will use an online lottery system to randomly select campers for the free weekend.  Register online between May 10 to May 12 to participate in the drawing, winners will be notified before May 31 to make the camping reservation. Here are the locations and dates for each weekend.

Click on the links for each campground to take a virtual tour of the amenities and get more information.  The DEC's website has more details on the program and beginning May 10th you can register for the online drawing at this site.

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