ecology camp campers 2012

Eco-Discovery Camp

Our goals during our summer Eco-Discovery Camp are to:

  • use children's natural curiosity and enthusiasm for the outdoors to help them understand important ecological concepts,
  • create an open space where campers can ask and answer their own scientific questions,
  • expose campers to the field of Ecology,
  • support children as they develop confidence in their ability to use science to understand and positively impact the world.


Register online

Nature's Constructions:
The surprising ways living things shape the world

This year campers will observe and learn about the structures that plants and animals create, both on their bodies and in the surrounding environment. We'll get up close with beaver dams and birds' nests, snail shells and spider webs, and learn to observe ecosystems as ecologists and engineers. We'll study the ways in which these structures and the environment simultaneously shape each other, and have a blast crafting our own constructions inspired by nature's architects and engineers.

ecology camp campers
2015 campers

How do campers spend their week?

At the Cary Institute's Ecology Camp, children have a unique opportunity to experience ecological science with our skilled ecology educators and research scientists. During Eco-Discovery Camp, children entering grades 2-7 explore the hills, valleys, ponds, and streams of our 2,000-acre Dutchess County campus. Throughout each 1-week session campers conduct scientific investigations, learn about the natural history of the area, and participate in team building activities.

Each year the camp has a different theme, allowing our many returning campers to have unique experiences year after year. Past camp themes have included: Limno-explorers (2012), Life cycles (2013), Decomposition (2014), and Stream Pollution (2015).

Visit the camp Flickr photo gallery to see just how much fun our campers have!

ecology camp campers
2015 campers

How old are campers, and how big are the sessions?

Each week of camp will have a maximum of 12 campers and will be dedicated to either younger campers (entering grades 2-4) or older campers (entering grades 5-7). In addition, two educators with extensive experience in ecology and education will teach each week. We're also fortunate to have a high school-aged Eco-Leader volunteer helping with camp each week.

Eco-Discovery Camp for 2nd -4th graders runs from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Friday, with a late pick up (4pm) option available. For 5th – 7th graders, the camp day runs from 9am to 4pm. This year, the second week is a pro-rated four day session due to the July 4 holiday. Each week of camp follows the same program, and therefore campers may participate for one session only.

Can campers attend multiple sessions in one summer?

Unfortunately, demand is so high that we are only able to invite each camper to attend for one session per summer. We typically fill each session to capacity, so be sure to reserve your preferred week early. However, middle school students are invited to participate in both our Eco-Discovery camp and our new Art + Science course.

How much does it cost?

Our one week sessions cost $255 and $295 for younger and older campers, respectively.

Late pick-up (4pm) –  $50/week

Refund Policy

Withdrawal from camp prior to June 10, 2016 refunded total fee less $25.00 for administrative costs.  No refund for any reason after June 10, 2016.

Camp Scholarships:

Through the generosity of community members and local foundations, we are proud to offer a limited number of scholarships to families who could not normally afford to send their children to camp.

For an application and/or more information about scholarships, contact Shelly Forster at 845-677-7600 ext. 303 or

What about older campers?

Eco–Leaders Program

Our Eco-Leaders Program is for students entering grades 8-12. Each Eco-Leader assists educators during one Eco-Discovery camp session while also leading their own activity and assisting in data collection. This is similar to a junior counselor program, and includes a required training session prior to camp.


Art + Science Program

Middle and high school students are invited to participate in our new weeklong Art + Science program. Students will spend the week exploring Cary's field, forests, and streams through the art of scientific observation and will create a beautiful field book of ecological discoveries.


For more information about the Cary Institute's Ecology Camp, contact Shelly Forster at (845) 677-7600 ext. 303 or via email at

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

Privacy Policy Copyright © 2016