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

What's in our Water?

Did you know that less than 3% of the water on Earth is fresh, and that most of that freshwater is stored in glaciers and underground? The streams, lakes, and rivers that we love to explore make up only about 0.3% of the freshwater on Earth (USGS). This makes freshwater a unique resource that is worth studying and conserving.

This summer our Eco-Discovery campers will follow the water as it flows through streams, ponds, organisms, the atmosphere, and the ground. Along the way we will learn about the living things that depend on freshwater, and the non-living things (including pollution) that affect our freshwater ecosystems and resources. Returning campers take note: "stream time" will be a guarantee!

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), Stream Pollution (2015), Nature's Structures (2016), and Bugs, Bacteria and Beyond (2017).

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

ecology camp campers
2015 campers

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 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. In addition, each week of camp follows the same curiculum, 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 2 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 8, 2018 refunded total fee less $25.00 for administrative costs. No refund for any reason after June 8, 2018.

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.


Art + Science Program

Middle and high school students are invited to participate in our 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

Related Files

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

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