Did you know that there’s no need to trek all the way upstate to go camping? Whether it’s waking up to birds chirping in Van Cortlandt Park or staring up at the starry sky from the comforts of your tent in Inwood Hill, the New York City Parks Department’s urban camping program offers the perfect way to unplug, unwind and enjoy nature right in the Big Apple.

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In operation since 2003, NYC’s family camping program is now active in parks throughout the five boroughs. Excursions include everything you’d want from a camping trip: pitching your own tent (provided if you don’t have your own), hiking through the forest, exploring local wildlife, sharing campfire stories, visits to the Port-a-Potty, er, outhouse, and even enjoying a round of s’mores.

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Cautious about spending the night in an NYC park with strange critters roaming about? Not to worry. Park rangers don’t just lead activities and hiking tours, they also stay overnight with campers.

Families can register for camp for dates through August and September on the Parks Department website here. But hurry! Selection is made by random lottery. Registration for the September 5th program at Inwood Hill Park opens on August 27th.

+ NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Via NY Daily News

Images via NYC Parks Department Facebook