Hudson Valley Summer Camps

Warmer weather may not arrive until a few months from now, but sign-up for summer camp is well underway. Before you pack up the kids, check out these noteworthy Valley camps


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ecology day campPhotograph courtesy of Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Ecology Day Camp

Located on 1,924 acres in Millbrook, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies provides one of the most exciting venues in the Valley for budding young scientists to get their feet wet — literally. For more than a decade the renowned eco-science research and educational facility’s Ecology Day Camp has offered curious kiddos from second through seventh grade the opportunity to spend a week learning about watersheds, climate change, soil, and the water cycle through hands-on exploration and experimentation. “We try to use what makes the Cary Institute special,” says Ecology Education Specialist and camp organizer Megan McLean. “It’s the work of our scientists, our visiting scientist each week, and the use of our land, most of which can’t be accessed by the general public.”

Ecology Day Camp runs for nine weeks, with enrollment limited to 12 children per week (the curriculum repeats every week so multiple-week registration is not encouraged). “We get a really amazing set of young scientists,” McLean enthuses. “The campers tend to be kids generally interested in looking in a microscope, poking around in leaf litter. Some absolutely shock me with their intelligence.” Two counselors head each group — one from Cary’s own education staff, and the other a New York State certified teacher with a science background — as well as a volunteer from Cary’s Junior Counselor Youth Leadership Program. Each group also enjoys a visit from one of the institute’s working scientists.

This summer’s theme will be wetlands; the details of the curriculum have yet to be decided. For last year’s theme, Invasive Species, activities included a series of investigative studies including a crayfish hunt and a mini-replication of an experiment done by resident freshwater ecologist Dr. David Strayer. “The activities were all selected around understanding invasive species and what they are. The emphasis is on inquiry-based scientific research — ‘Are they all bad?’ for example,” McLean explains. “Our ecosystem science approach can challenge us to come up with innovative lesson planning. There’s lots to investigate on the grounds — 90 percent of the time is spent outside, getting our hands dirty.”

Quick Stats:
Schedule: Mon.-Fri., July-August
Session length: One week
Pick-up/drop-off: Grades 2-4: 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Grades 5-7: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Age: Kids entering grades two through seven
Staff-to-camper ratio: 1:4
Cost: Grades 2-4, $210/week; grades 5-7, $250/week
Web site:
Contact: Megan McLean 845-677-7600, ext. 190 or

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