Skip to main content

Eco-Discovery Camp

Looking to engage your child in nature and the outdoors this summer? Your camper will fit right in at our week-long day camp sessions. All Cary camps are held on our campus in Millbrook, New York.

The Secret Life of Forests

Who lives in the Cary forest, and what are they up to? This summer our Eco-Discovery campers will study the forest ecosystem from the ground up and will get to know the plants, animals, and microbes that keep the forest ticking.

Campers can look forward to hiking, exploring, asking scientific questions, and playing plenty of games in the woods. We hope that by the end of the week they'll have a healthy curiosity about forest ecology and a desire to serve as forest stewards for the future!

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: Decomposition (2014), Stream Pollution (2015), Nature's Structures (2016), and Bugs, Bacteria and Beyond (2017), and "What's In Our Water?" (2018).

How old are campers?

Each week of camp will have a approximately 12 campers and will be dedicated to either younger campers (entering grades 2-4) or older campers (entering grades 5-7).

Who teaches camp?

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.

How long are the sessions?

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 first week is a pro-rated four day session due to the July 4 holiday.

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. In addition, each week of camp follows the same curriculum, and therefore campers may participate for one session only. 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 Art + Science course.

How much does it cost?

Our one week sessions cost $260 and $300 for younger and older campers, respectively. Session 1 is pro-rated to $210 because camp will be closed on July 4.

Late pick-up for younger campers (4pm) –  add $50/week.

Refund Policy

Withdrawal from camp prior to June 7, 2019 refunded total fee less $25.00 for administrative costs. No refund for any reason after June 7, 2019.

Camp Scholarships

Through the generosity of community members and the Dyson Foundation, we are proud to offer a limited number of scholarships to families who could not normally afford to send their children to camp. Scholarship recipients attend camp for a nominal registration fee of $20.

To be eligible for a scholarship students must qualify for free or reduced lunch, as outlined by federal income eligibility guidelines. While we encourage all eligible students to apply, this year we are especially interested in supporting students from English Language Learner families. We can provide most pre-camp materials in Spanish upon request. Scholarships are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Typically all scholarships are awarded by the end of April, so please apply early.

Scholarship application (english)
Scholarship application (spanish)

Please return the application form to Shelly Forster via email ( or mail (2801 Sharon Turnpike, PO Box AB, Millbrook, NY 12545).

For 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. Eco-Leaders must apply to the program by March 15, 2019.

more ...

Art + Science Program

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

more ...

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