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Two young ladies in a corn field at Hawthorne Valley Farm Kids Camp

Fun Summer Day Programs for Fun Kids: Nature Connected and Farm Loving

By Jenny Wonderling | March 10, 2023

How do we keep our kids inspired (and maybe even excited) during the long, hot summer? Do you feel like the clock is ticking and your kid may, if left without a plan, resort to their (gasp) screens?  Fear not!  Doldrum-busting plans await!

There are so many amazing things to do in the Hudson Valley during the summer months for kids of every age! And many of these great offerings have programming year-round. We did a roundup of our top picks in two posts that most celebrate the unique flavors of this valley.

Here in Part 1 of this blog series, we hope to ignite or deepen a sense of connectedness within the beautiful natural bounty of this valley and to the other creatures that live here. From outdoor skills to gardening and farming, ecology, horsemanship and working with animals, these generous programs help to foster better earth stewards and more confident, curious, and joyous kids.

Click Here for Part 2 of this blog series will focus on Theater Arts, Music & Creativity. In addition to being an oasis of natural beauty, we are so fortunate here to be a beacon of artists, musicians and creatives. We are lucky to have incredible programs that inspire kids in these ways too, and where many of our local talents can also share their wisdom and passion.

Each of these listings have limited spaces so be sure and register soon! Let the fun begin!

Part 1: Nature Connected, Horse Loving and Farm Education Camps

Camp kids and staff members are wading in green algae water for scientific tests at Cary Institute for Ecology Camp

Photo: Cary Institute for Ecology Camp

Cary Institute | Millbrook NY | Visit their website

Campers at Cary Institute spend a week as ecologists and experience the joys of exploration, immersion in nature, and discovery. Children work with cutting-edge scientists and educators in their unique natural settings.

Common Ground Farm Camp | Wappingers Falls, NY | Visit their website 

At Common Ground Farm Camp, kids learn through collaboration, exploration, imagination, and discovery, engaging directly with farmland and the natural world. Making their own culinary, scientific, and artistic creations with their own hands, campers spend time in the garden, at the pond, in the field, in the barn, and along their nature trails.

Clover Brooke Llama and Alpaca Farm | Hyde Park, NY | Visit their website

Campers meet and learn about the many different species on the farm and how each of them plays an important role in the farm’s ecosystem. What is the purpose varied livestock serve, and how do the farmers balance management and mindfulness? The camp aims to “expand our thinking about the world to include animals and our relationships with them.”

Bunch of camp kids in the stream together at Wild Earth Camp

Photo: Wild Earth Camp

Flying Deer Nature Center | East Chatham, NY | Visit their website

Offering nature immersive fun, learning, and hands-on engagement with the land, campers in a wide range of ages are introduced to a where kids can safely explore the natural world. A program-appropriate menu ranges from artwork (with things found in nature), wild foraging, games, songs, outdoor cooking, and wilderness and survival skills. Flying Deer also offers a special program for trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer youth ages 11–16.

Green Heron Farm Summer Horsemanship Program | Woodstock, NY |  Visit their website

Green Heron Farm’s Horsemanship Program is a wonderful way to learn more about horse care and stable management, as well as improve riding skills in a safe, well-supervised environment. They offer quality instruction suited to every level of rider in a safe, fun environment.

Hawthorne Valley | Ghent, NY | Visit their website

Offering both weekday and sleep-away programs catering to different ages, Farm Explorers have daily opportunities to get their hands dirty helping out on the farm! Campers care for farm animals, collect eggs, milk cows, and harvest fresh herbs and veggies used in their kitchen, as well as try horseback riding. Storytelling, games and more. “We create an environment where campers gain skills, independence, and friendships while participating as active members of our farm community!”

Bunch of young kids inside a Greenhouse with vegetables in their hands at Common Ground Farm

Photo: Common Ground Farm

Mohonk Preserve Summer Camps | New Paltz, NY | Visit their website

Children ages 7-13 will spend their summer outside enjoying the natural wonders the Shawangunk Ridge has to offer. “Under the careful supervision of our dedicated and professional educators, campers will laugh, play and learn together; explore interests and abilities; and expand their understanding of themselves, each other and the natural world to which they belong.”

Nature’s Classroom + Horseback Riding Summer Camps at The Southlands Foundation | Rhinebeck, NY | Visit their website

Creating “competent, relaxed pleasure riders and horses. Our intention is to introduce a broad range of equestrian activities, including equitation, showing hunters, trail riding, jumpers, and dressage from the beginner level through advanced.” They also have a pony camp for 7-12 year olds.

Olana Panorama Summer Youth Program | Hudson NY | Visit their website

Teaching artists, outdoor educators, and museum educators will deliver thematic programs exploring photography, nature, art, cooking, and agriculture. Hands-on educational activities for children ages 6-11 that encourage creative play and discovery at the gorgeous historic site and sprawling property of Olana.

Kids on a large mountain bedrock with forest behind them at Mohonk Camp in New Paltz NY

Photo: Mohonk Camp

Phillies Bridge Farm Project | New Paltz, NY | Visit their website

This camp experience combines the peaceful and grounding feeling of being on a farm with educational and creative play. “This year’s camp season will continue to be focused around our popular farm-centered STEAM curriculum. Each super fun week of farm camp will also contain the core elements of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and will be based on seasonal topics with a focus on agriculture and environmental stewardship.

Seed Song Farm & Seed Song Center | ​Kingston, NY | Visit their website

Kids develop a deeper understanding and relationship with their food and natural world. They learn about the difference between being “invasive and non-invasive animal detectives,” how to grow and harvest food, care for animals, and identify and harvest wild plants. Sustainability, birdwatching, games, songs, indigenous wisdom, music, and more.

Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center Summer Camp | Wappingers Falls, NY | Visit their website

Kids are empowered by experiencing a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. Camp is held on the grounds of the beautiful and historic Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center in. A balance of structured and free play with environmental exploration, enjoyment of arts and crafts experiences, and age-appropriate learning activities.


Young girl riding a horse in an outdoor arena from Toad Farm in Gardiner NY.

Toad Farm holistic horseback riding | Gardiner, NY | Visit their website

Week long programs, full and half days for any age or ability. “Our programs concentrate on English riding skills, horsemanship, and barn duties. Attendees will ride each day as well as help to care for the horses in the barn and pasture and learn about animal husbandry. Some of our programs are themed, such as our Wee Ones, designed specifically for younger students.”

White Feather Farm Summer Camp | Saugerties | Visit their website 

Let’s go wild for art-making! Foraging for wild plants, rocks, wood to create your own art materials, you will bond with the land and awaken to a sense of gratitude for the gifts that nature offers. Immersed in the farm’s woods, marshes, and farmed fields, tune your senses to nature, and fuel your creative spirit. Art-making, science experimentation, free play and more will all be part of the daily fun!

July Summer Camp at White Feather Farms

Photo White Feather Farm

WildEarth | High Falls, NY | Visit their website

“All of the senses are engaged as campers meet local plants and animals, learn wilderness skills, create natural crafts, and build deep connections with friends and inspiring adult and teen mentors.” Songs, expressing gratitude, and finding new ways to play, “We form smaller groups and set up camp in the forest by building fire pits and shelters. Our instructors tailor activities to the interests of the campers, fostering curiosity and guiding learning.”

Winding Waters | Warwick and Walden | Visit their website

Focusing on hands-on learning out in nature, participants will gain direct experience with shelter building, fire making, wild edible and medicinal plants, animal tracking, awareness games, archery, camouflage, and more! Beautiful earth-honoring programs in Warwick and Walden for kids of all ages that include traditional wisdom, survival skills, basket weaving and more.


While there are other excellent camps and programs that have focused activities like tennis, as an example, our posts focused on outdoor activities and connectedness with nature and in part 2 focused on the arts, please search our directory for other great youth activities and camps.

Have a great summer!

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Be sure to search the INSIDE+OUT online directory for more activities, sports and community resources for your kids!



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