Never camped under the stars before? Try it for free in New York with all the gear included and someone to help set it up.

When it comes to camping, it really "takes a lot of stuff." So much stuff, that it discourages many people from even trying to spend a night outdoors. The Department of Environmental Conservation will take care of the stuff part, by offering 1st time campers a free weekend with all the stuff included.

Summer camp drop off sign

First Time Camper Program

The campsites will not only include the stuff, but a guy to help you set it all up. The First-Time Camper Program provides a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, lanterns, and firewood. The "Camping Ambassador" will meet you at the campsite to help set up and offer basic camping tips like fishing knowledge, hiking, bird watching, and paddling info too.

New York State's First-Time Camper Program makes sleeping under the stars for the first time easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities, that have never camped before.

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A delighted family toasting marshmallows on a fun camping trip

Camping Lottery

First-time campers can enter a lottery by completing the survey before June 23 and choosing one of 8 camping locations in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve.

North South Lake Campground (Catskills) - July 7-9
Ausable Point Campground (Adirondacks) - July 14-16
Luzerne Campground (Adirondacks) - July 21-23
Cranberry Lake Campground (Adirondacks) - July 28-30
Nicks Lake Campground (Adirondacks) - August 4-6
Frontier Town Campground (Adirondacks) - August 11-13
Kenneth L. Wilson Campground (Catskills) - August 18-20
Mongaup Pond Campground (Catskills) - August 25-27

Participants will be randomly selected to fill camper slots.

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