A lot has changed since Camp Vacamas’ founding in 1924—for one, the camp is now co-ed—but its number one mission persists: to empower young people. Spread across 230 wooded acres, the camp offers ample opportunity for children to develop relationships with nature and one another, whether going an on overnight trip, swimming in the private 50-acre lake, or while biking through Pennsylvania Dutch country. Parents can enroll their children and teens in one of several programs, including two- or three-week sleep-away camps, day camps, day trips, and overnight retreats. No matter the program, campers will be exposed to a wealth of learning experiences pertaining to social skills, confidence, making new friends, and best practices for roasting marshmallows.
You wake up at sunrise to sunlight filtering through a canopy of towering oak trees. In the distance, you might hear the babbling waters of the Delaware River, the cry of a hawk, or the laughter of children. Those visiting Trail Blazers share this experience each morning as they emerge from their canvas-covered shelters—part of a rustic experience designed to immerse them into the outdoors. Since 1938, the more than 120-year-old American Camp Association–accredited camp has occupied 1,100 acres of Mashipacong Bogs Preserve, a slice of wilderness encompassing a 55-acre lake, a stretch of the Delaware River, and a section of the Appalachian Trail.
The certified counselors guide visitors in a decentralized camp experience focused on outdoor education and survival-skills development. They coordinate a range of outdoor programs, including youth camps in which children learn about the ecosystem and hone skills from swimming to outdoor cooking to backpacking. Camps culminate in the Vagabond trip: an extended hike, bike, or canoeing excursion designed to test each camper's abilities when not relying on squirrels for directions. Trail Blazers also coordinates school day trips and full-day or overnight custom lesson plans aligned with the New York and New Jersey State Learning Standards.
Just 30 minutes from the George Washington Bridge lies a summer oasis for kids, where fresh air abounds and activities keep them wholesomely entertained all day. Since 1979, Day Camp in the Park has provided area youngsters with outlets for sports and artistic expression during the summer, when school is out and kids can’t satisfy their math and science cravings. On Lake Tiorati, kids learn how to row and sail, and a multitude of sports fields and courts provide access to just about any game played with a ball. Above all, the camp strives to give kids the chance to reach goals and come home with new achievements, whether by learning new strokes in the pool or remembering all their lines in a play. Day trips also take groups on field trips, which may include jaunts to the Bronx Zoo and Major League Baseball games.
A hike through the fall foliage of the Shawangunk Mountains and a whiskey tasting, sea kayaking and a barbecue on a sandbar, photography classes in Central Park, volunteering with elephants in Namibia—with all of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the name Discover Outdoors is a bit modest. But it is accurate: The organization helms outdoor journeys inside and outside of the city, ranging from urban standup-paddleboarding excursions to photo shoots at the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as trips across the world, including safaris and volcano-sandboarding adventures in Tanzania. Guiding intrepid guests through these treks is Discover Outdoors' team of NY-licensed trail guides, Wilderness First Responders, and Wilderness EMTs, who help participants to learn survival skills, reach new levels of fitness, and conquer Hastenburaphobia.
Snackin' Tours steers hungry groups to original and oft-overlooked destinations throughout New York to give them a unique taste of the city. In small groups of eight, tours avoid obvious tourist traps in favor of local favorites with routes arranged around a certain theme. Guides recount tales of neighborhood history and toss in factoids along the way while trawling the East Village's bounty of vegetarian eats, the Lower East Side's cluster of boutique food, or the West Village's dessert-paved sidewalks. Tour operators can accommodate guests with dietary restrictions at certain tastings in advance. Snackin' Tours also runs a much larger pub crawl on Thursdays, in which staggered groups of up to 40 people explore six dive bars, taverns, and other pub-like places all over lower Manhattan.
After touring the world as a Naval Officer, Gear To Go Outfitters founder Kevin Rosenberg moved to New York City and was amazed at how hard it was to track down rental backpacking gear. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Kevin saw this opportunity and jumped at it. Today, Gear To Go Outfitters rents out high-quality equipment that ranges from backpacks to camp stoves, and delivers it right to the client’s door in an effort to reduce their trip-planning stress.
A survival and navigation expert, Kevin also leads adventures while sharing bits of knowledge he picked up in the Southwestern desert regions, the forests of Costa Rica, and the Appalachian Trail. Kevin is assisted by a team of experienced guides who lead tours that include rock scrambles through the Hudson Highlands, hikes through the Green Mountains of Vermont, voyages through the mountains of Arizona, or plunges into the caverns of one's own imagination.