Summer Camps Make a Comeback

summer camp

Camp directors adjust to COVID-19 restrictions

Nothing can keep a good summer camp down for long — not even the coronavirus. 

If anything, the pandemic has increased interest in long-standing camp traditions. After a sabbatical last year, most summer camps in the Highlands will return in 2021, with COVID-19 safety plans in place. There may be fewer participants allowed, but camps will again offer everything from nature, agriculture and dance programs to art, music and municipal day camps. Here’s a sampling. 

Stony Kill Farm

The Summer Explorers Camp at Stony Kill Farm just north of Beacon will stay true to its agricultural and environmental themes, but will host fewer campers. 

“We’ll do a lot of the same activities we’ve done for the past 11 years” but with only 20 participants, 10 fewer than usual, said Executive Director Erik Fyfe. “Our hope is the kids won’t notice any difference from past camps.”

Fyfe said campers, who range in age from 4 to 12, will be outdoors about 95 percent of the time, and that, if it rains, there is plenty of room indoors to practice social distancing. 

The six, weeklong day camps will run from June 21 through the end of July, although weeks 2, 3 and 4 are full. 

Call 845-831-3800 or visit The cost is $300 per week, or $275 for members.

Beacon Recreation Department

Beacon Recreation Director Mark Price probably echoed camp directors everywhere when he commented that the biggest challenge in 2021 is preserving “the magic of camp” while keeping everyone safe. 

Beacon’s popular [email protected] will include three, two-week sessions with attendance limited to two weeks per camper, he said. They are scheduled to begin July 5, July 19 and Aug. 2, and registration should open May 4.

“We hope all of our campers will get the opportunity to come out,” Price said, though he anticipates a smaller number of children each day. The day camps are limited to Beacon residents. 

Call 845-765-8440 or visit

Ballet Arts Studio

“There’s a big increase in demand this spring now that COVID restrictions are lifting and more people are getting vaccinated,” said Katie Bissinger, artistic director at Beacon’s Ballet Arts Studio. 

“Kids will definitely have fun in our programs despite COVID,” she said.  “There is a wonderful freedom and liberation in movement that heals a lot of the trauma and stress that the coronavirus has brought.”

Summer dance programs include ballet and preparation for ballet, tap, dance explorations, dance foundations, contemporary / hip-hop, precision dance and theater dance. 

Dance, Bissinger said, “is a great antidote to months of being forced to sit at home staring at computer screens.” 

Call 845-831-1870 or see The camps run from July 5 to Aug. 27 and the cost is $180 to $375 per week.

Philipstown Recreation Department

“I think parents and kids are excited to return to the ‘normalcy of camp,’ ” said Amber Stickle, the director of Philipstown Recreation’s summer programs. 

Eight weeklong day camps will be offered at the Rec Center in Garrison but will operate at half capacity unless new guidelines from the state indicate participation can be expanded. 

She and other camp directors noted that New York State has yet to issue new COVID-related guidelines. 

“It will be mainly an outdoor camp program this year, with some special guests and activities,” Stickle said. “We’re super-excited to welcome the kids back and to make it the safest, most enjoyable experience we can.

Stickle said that while the day camp program is limited to Philipstown residents, the department’s sports and theater programs are open to non-residents. While the eight weeks of day camps for children ages 3 to 14 are full, Stickle recommended adding names to the waiting list in case the state expands the number of children and teens who are allowed to attend.

Call 845-424-4618 or visit

Beacon Music Factory

“People are champing at the bit to come back,” said Steven Clair, the owner of the Beacon Music Factory. “We’re going to get busy, especially as more people get vaccinated.” 

The Music Factory will offer a Rock Band Camp for teenagers in July and hopes to add two more band camps in late August. Clair will also host songwriting camps for teenagers via Zoom. 

Call 845-765-0472 or visit The cost is $275.

Garrison Art Center

Summer art programs are alive and well at Garrison’s Landing. “We’re full,” said Katie Schmidt Feder, executive director of the Garrison Art Center, commenting on its K-8 Summer Arts on the Hudson Program. There are a few spaces remaining in its Summer Art Institute for high school students.

The center, which switched this year from a single 3-week session to dual 2-week sessions with the hope of accommodating more campers under pandemic guidelines, has long waiting lists for the K-8 camps. “Our hope is that state guidelines will soon allow more kids in each group,” said Feder.

“We’re lucky to have the landing right there” she said. “Kids can do projects and have lunch outside.

“We just have to make sure kids have the space they need; we’ll probably separate the groups a little more separate than usual,” Feder added.

She said while parents are “ready to get kids out there,” a lot of thought is going into safety protocols. “We’re not throwing caution to the wind.” 

Surprise Lake Camp

Sleepover campers will return to Surprise Lake Camp in Philipstown after a shutdown last summer. Executive Director Bradley Solmsen said precautions are being taken to deal with the coronavirus, including working with a pediatrician and public health consultant experienced in camp medicine to develop safety procedures. 

Surprise Lake Camp was established in 1902 and went coed in 1960. It usually welcomes close to 500 campers, with some arriving in early July and a second wave coming in early August. 

“This year we will have just one arrival date in July,” Solmsen said. 

The camp employs more than 200 staff and filling the positions has been a challenge. “Normally about 30 percent of the staff are international,” Solmsen said, but because of the pandemic, the visas required for international staff have been less certain. 

More Summer Camps 

4th Wall Theater Camp (Hopewell Junction)
845-702-2460 |
Seven weekly camps from July 5 to Aug. 3 for elementary, middle school and teens. Cost: $145 per week (night), $245 (day)

All Sport Camp Fit (Fishkill)
845-896-5678 |
Nine weekly camps from June 28 to Aug. 27 for ages 4-12. Cost: $290 per week (members $260)

Army Sports (West Point)
845-938-2463 |
Check online for updates.

Beacon Art Studios (Wappingers Falls)
845-728-2542 |
No camps in 2021.

Be Creative as Possible (Beacon)
845-905-2338 |
Five weekly camps from June 28 to July 30 for ages 3-6 (storytelling, dinosaurs, water, space and nature). Cost: $250 per week

Black Rock Forest (Cornwall)
845-534-4517, x111 |
Three weekly sessions of summer science at Black Rock Forest in Cornwall from July 12 to 30 for students ages 11-15. Cost: $375 per week

Common Ground Farm (Wappingers Falls)
845-231-4424 |
Seven weekly camps from July 5 to Aug. 20 for ages 5-12. Information will be posted April 28 and registration opens May 5.

Compass Arts (Beacon)
917-648-4454 |
No camps in 2021.

Hudson Valley Renegades (Wappingers Falls)
The minor-league baseball team runs three camps at Dutchess Stadium for players ages 8 to 14. The classic skills camp begins July 12, the advanced camp on July 19 and the pitching and hitting camp on Aug. 2. Cost: $250

Hudson Valley Shakespeare (Philipstown)
845-809-5750 x13 |
HVSF hopes to hold its camps but plans are not finalized.

Manitou School (Philipstown)
845-809-5695 |
No information has been posted about 2021 camps.

Renegades Baseball (Wappingers Falls)
No information has been posted about 2021 camps.

School of Rock (Beacon)
845-835-0001 |
Five weekly camps from July 5 to Aug. 6 for ages 7-18. Cost: $500

St. Philip’s Nursery School (Garrison)
845-424-4209 |
Five weekly camps from June 28 to July 30 for ages 2 to kindergarten. Daily from 9:05 a.m. to noon. Cost: $120 to $155 per week

Storm King Art Center (New Windsor)
845-534-3115 |
An onsite camp is planned but details and dates are not set. Check website for updates.

Supplies for Creative Living (Cold Spring)
845-809-5500 |
Two creativity camps in collaboration with Split Rock Books from July 6 to 22: Outside IN for ages 8-12 and INSIDE Out for ages 13-15. Cost: $180

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