Down and Dirty on the Farm (Camp)
Stony Kill welcomes summer explorers
By Michael Turton
What sets the Stony Kill Summer Explorers camp apart is that campers not only get a taste of nature, they also get a helping of life on the farm.
The camp is located at the state-owned Stony Kill Farm and Environmental Education Center on Route 9D just north of Beacon amidst 1,000 acres that include rolling countryside, farmland, ponds, woodlands, meadows, and cultivated and fallow fields.
“We have sheep, cows, chickens and pigs,” explains Program Director Stacey Lynch-Adams. “We’re smaller, so our campers have one-on-one interaction with our counselors and educators.” Head counselors are educators who have worked on the farm for one to three years.
The camp’s size means bonds develop easily. “We often join together for group activities and many times the older children work with our younger campers to complete projects,” Lynch-Adams says.
The Stony Kill Foundation has operated the camp, which accepts children ages 4 to 12, since 2011 through an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which acquired the site in the 1970s. It adds elements each year but also sticks with proven favorites.
“Kids love our weekly tractor rides around Stony Kill,” Lynch-Adams says, adding that there is always food such as burgers made with local beef or vegetables harvested from the student garden. “The pond and our livestock, including Snowflake the lamb” are big draws, she says.
As part of Life on the Farm week, campers learn where their food comes from and what life is like for a farmer in the Hudson Valley. “Campers are surprised how difficult it is to run a farm and take care of even a small number of livestock,” she says.
Children who don’t want to get their hands dirty should look elsewhere for a camp. At Stony Kill, campers may find themselves working with livestock in the barn, getting down and dirty with earthworms, searching for insects in the fields or digging in the gardens.
Bad weather does not grind Summer Explorers to a halt. On rainy days, programs shift to the air-conditioned barn classroom, upper barn and barnyard, lower barn workshop and the greenhouse.
The camps fill quickly because many kids return year after year. There are openings in the weeklong camp beginning June 17 (Project Discovery) but camps beginning June 24 (Life on the Farm), July 1 (The Great Outdoors) and July 8 (Wildlife) have waiting lists.
An overnight Girl Scout camp on July 15-16 and Boy Scout camp on July 18-19, as well as individual Monday and Thursday day camps offered from July 22 to Aug. 29, are still accepting participants. The latter focus on topics such as farm-to-table gardening, animal husbandry, pond ecology and homesteading.
The camps are $250 per week ($225 for members) or $50 for the day camps. See stonykill.org.
Local Camp Guide
4th Wall Theatre Camp (Wappingers Falls)
845-226-8099 | 4thwallproductions.org
All Sport Camp Fit (Fishkill)
845-896-5678 | allsportfishkill.com
Army Sports (West Point)
Ballet Arts Studio (Beacon)
845-831-1870 | balletartsstudio.com
Beacon Art Adventures
845-218-1593 | beaconartadventures.com
Beacon Art Studios (Wappingers Falls)
845-728-2542 | beaconartstudios.com
Beacon Music Factory
845-765-0472 | beaconmusicfactory.com
Beacon Pantry Cooking
845-440-8923 | beaconpantry.com
Beacon Performing Arts Center
845-350-2722 | beaconperformingartscenter.com
Be Creative as Possible (Beacon)
845-905-2338 | becreativeaspossible.com
Camp @ The Camp (Beacon)
845-765-8440 | cityofbeacon.org
Camp Kinder Ring (Hopewell Junction)
845-221-2771 | campkr.com
Camp Nabby (Mohegan Lake)
914-528-7796 | campnabby.com
Clearpool Camp (Carmel)
825-225-8226 | greenchimneys.org
Common Ground Farm (Wappingers Falls)
845-231-4424 | commongroundfarm.org
Compass Arts (Beacon)
917-648-4454 | compassarts.org
Garrison Art Center
845-424-3960 | garrisonartcenter.org
Hudson Hills Montessori (Beacon)
845-831-1100 | hudsonhillsmontessori.org
Hudson Valley Shakespeare (Cold Spring)
845-809-5750 x13 | hvshakespeare.org
Kid’s Place (Beacon)
845-838-9934 | kidsplacebeacon.org
Kiwi Country Day Camp (Carmel)
914-276-2267 | kiwicountrydaycamp.com
Manitoga Nature & Design (Garrison)
845-424-3812 | visitmanitoga.org
Manitou School (Cold Spring)
845-809-5695 | manitouschool.org
845-424-4618 | philipstownrecreation.com
Renegades Baseball (Wappingers Falls)
Rose Hill Manor (Beacon)
845-831-4847 | rosehillmanorschool.com
Stony Kill Farm (Wappingers Falls)
845-831-3800 | stonykill.org
Surprise Lake Camp (Cold Spring)
845-265-3616 | surpriselake.org