Every summer, hundreds of thousands of people flock to camps in the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. The destinations range from Orthodox Jewish children’s camps to YMCA camps, family-oriented RV parks, glamping sites, sleep-away horse camps, and educational day camps.
While campgrounds and RV parks have been open statewide since Memorial Day, May 25, summer camp programs were source of heated debate. Ultimately on June 13, Cuomo announced that day programs could start up as of June 29. As for sleep-away camps, they're straight-up banned this year (something Cuomo has been sued over).
Due to COVID-19 precautions, several Hudson Valley organizations have cancelled their summer camps outright, but others are going forward with modified offerings that comply with new state mandates. Some things for you and your kiddos to expect from camp this summer: Campers and staff must wear masks within six feet of one another, group sizes cannot exceed over 10 children, nonessential visitors are prohibited, and the sharing of objects like electronics and craft supplies is limited.
The Art Effect
Poughkeepsie-based nonprofit The Art Effect offers programming that empowers young people's creative vision and teaches them professional skills to shape their futures, with a focus on social change. This summer, The Art Effect is offering a variety of program options from in-person sessions to virtual downloadable instruction and video lessons. This summer's offerings fall into three buckets: a beginners art camp for ages 4-10; an intermediate camp for ages 11 to 13, and the Summer Art Institute for ages 14-19, which will focus on painting and drawing this year. The Dutchess Arts Camp for children aged 6-10 will be in person and will run from July 6 to July 31. The Arts Camp Video Package will be divided into two groups for children aged 4-7 and 8-10 and will be starting on July 6.
Hudson Highlands Nature Museum
Hudson Highlands Nature Museum teaches kids ages 5 to 12 about the environment through their annual Science & Nature summer camp. As of June 24, registration for the in-person camp was full, but follow the museum on Facebook for updates about new openings. The camp will also be offering a 100% risk-free refund policy for their customers. The organization is also planning virtual field trips, Meet the Animals via FaceBook Live, and other remote learning experiences for noncampers. A note to the public: From July 6 to August 28, the hiking trails and museum property will be closed to non-campers at the Monday to Friday at the Outdoor Discovery Center and Wednesday to Friday at the Wildlife Education Center from 8am-4pm. These properties will be open to all on weekends, dawn to dusk.
New Paltz-based nonprofit Vanaver Caravan's SummerDance program will provide three weeks of intensives and workshops that explore diverse global dance traditions, including ballet, swing, tap, flamenco, hip hop, and Indian folk. To promote safe social distancing, the program, which is open to pre-teens, teens, and adult drop-ins, will feature a blend of online and in-person experiences. The schedule has a robust curriculum of live-streamed and recorded classes with faculty from all over the world, as well as outdoor classes and events like a site-specific film shoot at Opus 40 in Saugerties. Each student will also get the chance to take a personalized, one-on-one lesson with a faculty member.
Horses for a Change
Horses for a Change in Esopus is a therapeutic refuge both for the abandoned horses it takes in and those that come to ride. The nonprofit provides offers lessons, therapeutic rides, an after-school program, and youth riding weeks for people on the autism spectrum or with mental health needs. Horses for a Change reopened for summer 2020 lessons on May 26, and the barn is following the state Department of Health guidelines for their activities. Rides and lessons by appointment.
Art, Hands, Heart
Art, Hands, Heart is a summer camp program run by the Redeemer Lutheran Church in New Paltz. The program aims to combine creativity and spirit by instructing children in art, music, mindfulness, stories, games and outdoor play. The summer 2020 program is scheduled to run from August 3-7. “We, like other camps, are following the guidance that’s coming out of the governor’s office for what we need to do with numbers, physical distancing, having masks ready, having processes in place for using bathrooms, and making sure everything is cleaned before and after,” says pastor Tobias Anderson. “We’re really fortunate to have a beautiful outdoor space.” Art, Hands, Heart is also looking to increase staff so that there can be more groups rotating around the property to keep less people in one place at a time.
Wild Earth’s programming seek to offer children (and adults!) the opportunity to build a relationship with nature, gain outdoor skills, and create natural crafts. Although Wild Earth has decided to cancel its Screech Owl, Kestrel, Art, and Kingfisher camps, their Raven and Ropes teen programs will be offered as two-week camps in July. “With the modified camp offerings, we’ve had very few cancellations, which suggests that parents are comfortable with the safety policies and camp structures we’ve shared with them,” says Omari Washington, communications and connections director. Wild Earth had an anticipated enrollment of more than 500 campers across 10 sessions. However, the camp has since decided to minimize their enrollment to allow participants who are 10 years old or over to enroll.
Livingston Street Early Childhood Community
Livingston Street Early Childhood Community usually hosts full and half-day programs geared towards children between the ages of 3 and 5. The programs pride themselves on emphasizing social competence and emotional well-being in young children. Since Livingston Street is a daycare rather than a summer camp, they are considered an essential business and were never required to close amid the pandemic. However, founder and ED Cheryl Demuth said that they decided to close for several months anyway as a precaution. Now, Livingston Street will reopen for a six-week summer program beginning on July 13. Fewer kids will be enrolled in the daycare program, and they will not be required to wear masks.
Frost Valley YMCA
Frost Valley YMCA generally offers a wide range of camp programs over the summer like overnight camps, teen adventure camps, day camps, and specialty programs. This year their have downsized their in-person offerings significantly, but they are offering week-long day cap for kids ages 5-12 beginning August 3 and running through September 4. Registration opens June 29, and spaces are limited.Frost Valley will also be accepting lodging reservations for families starting on July 7.
Phillies Bridge Farm Project
Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz offers a summer program which emphasizes fun, farming, and sustainability. Phillies Bridge Farm Project’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) summer camp will reopen and will be adhering to New York’s protocols and guidelines. “We already had a very small program and don’t usually accept more than 20 kids so group size is not a problem for us,” says camp director Jazmine Langlitz. “We are going to be staggering drop-off and pick-up, we will be wearing safety masks, and our whole program is outside." The camp, which is for kids 4-12, will have eight weeklong sessions between June 29 and August 17.
Primrose Hill School
Primrose Hill School in Rhinebeck offers a nature camp for 3-to-5-year-olds and a variety of specialty camps for kids aged 6 to 12, from like farm and garden to cooking to print arts and even earth oven construction. Primrose Hill School will be going forward with their camp programs from June 29 to August 7, but as of now, all programs are full.
The Ashokan Center
The Ashokan Center is a summer camp for the whole family where music and dance enthusiasts can take a deeper dive into self-expression. The Ashokan Center has moved all of their summer 2020 music and dance camp programs online. The first program is Western and Swing Week, which will be held from June 29 to July 5.
Columbia Greene Community College
Columbia Greene Community College will be running virtual STEAM camps powered by Black Rocket, a national leader in science and tech education. The programs start at $149 and will instruct campers in topics like coding, game design, eSports, and virtual reality. With programs beginning on June 29, CGCC's campers will benefit from the college’s wider Creator Corps community and will also have smaller group sessions with coaches. Campers can register for any of the creative tech courses offered.
Stone Ridge-based state college SUNY Ulster has cancelled their in-person Summer Enrichment programs but will be offering many virtual programs. Campers can enroll in STEAM, chess, yoga, and art classes. SUNY Ulster teamed up with Black Rocket to offer a tech program for children aged 8 to 14 years old, which began on June 15 and runs through August 10. The chess, yoga, and art programs are offered through Zoom and group children by age.
High Meadow School
The High Meadow School in Stone Ridge usually partners with organizations to offer summer programs like circus arts, Wayfinder, Ninja Camp (parkour and archery), Jam Camp, and STEM camp, but they've decided to cancel all in-person programming for 2020. As an alternative, faculty and providers will offer some virtual courses, including art, Spanish, and songwriting. These will be in a workshop format rather than an ongoing five-day camp model. Use their new community resources tool to find out info about upcoming events and opportunities.
Black Rock Forest Consortium's summer science camps, targeted towards middle school students, generally offer week-long opportunities to experience nature through scientific observation and investigation. However, his year, amid COVID concerns, the consortium has decided to cancel their 2020 Summer Science Camp and will resume in summer 2021.
Camp Hillcroft in Dutchess County is a summer day camp for children in Pre K to 9th grade to learn skills, make friends, experiment with ideas, and boost self-esteem. Camp Hillcroft has canceled their summer day camp program for 2020.
Hudson Hills Montessori in Beacon offers programs for children 2.5 to 6 years old. Here, campers make crafts, take part in nature investigations, and do hands-on activities. However, Hudson Hills has decided to cancel their eight-week summer day camp this year. Instead, the Hudson Hills staff will be focusing on safely reopening their schools for the fall of 2020.