The Appalachian Mountain Club has signed an agreement with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) to open a new outdoor program center at Harriman State Park in summer 2016. AMC will invest more than $1 million to renovate a former youth camp on Breakneck Pond and offer group programs. Located only 30 miles from Manhattan, AMC’s program center will be ideal for close-by hiking, paddling, and camping.
“AMC is excited to enter into a long-term partnership with PIPC and New York State Parks to connect more people to the outdoors by combining the strength of these agencies with AMC’s expertise across outdoor recreation, conservation, youth engagement, and leadership training,” said John Judge, President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
AMC’s outdoor program center at Harriman is part of the organization’s broader commitment to expand its impact in the greater New York area. Numerous AMC groups will use the center, including AMC-led youth outdoor education and leadership programs, as well as chapter-led programs open to the general public.
Building updates and outdoor recreation improvements will start this spring, with a focus on preserving the site’s undeveloped, wild character. As part of the agreement with PIPC, AMC will renovate existing group cabins, tent platforms, and three-sided shelters to offer a range of overnight experiences, in addition to building new remote camping sites. PIPC will make needed infrastructural improvements, including restoring utilities and water to the site.
With accommodations for up to 140 people, the program center will also offer common space for outdoor programs, waterfront access to 64-acre Breakneck Pond, and a dining hall with self-service kitchen. AMC shuttle service connecting to nearby train stops will provide public transportation options.
“We are pleased to work with AMC as an organization that shares our goal of making the outdoors available to all people, and to see the Breakneck Pond camp once again used to serve youth,” said James Hall, Executive Director of PIPC.
The outdoor program center will allow AMC to expand its Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) for underserved and urban youth as it continues to grow in the New York City area. Each year, YOP enables over 35,000 young people to experience the outdoors while hiking, canoeing, or camping, often for the first time, by providing youth agencies with outdoor leadership training, equipment, and technical assistance. The Breakneck Pond site will be available to agencies at a highly discounted cost.
AMC will also offer new Teen Volunteer Trails and Teen Wilderness Adventures programs at the site, in addition to using the center as another location for AMC’s long-running Mountain Leadership School.
AMC chapters will make use of the site as well, offering a variety of outdoor programs open to its members, volunteers, and the general public.
“We are looking forward to working with AMC to not only introduce more people to the wonderful public resource at Harriman State Park, but also to develop the next generation of conservation stewards,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Parks.
AMC has been active in the New York City area for over a century. AMC’s New York/North Jersey Chapter was founded in 1912, and today members lead hundreds of outdoor trips each year and maintain trails in cooperation with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. AMC’s New York City program office, located at the West Side YMCA steps from Central Park, supports both the chapter and AMC’s Youth Opportunities Program. Within the region, AMC operates the Mohican Outdoor Center in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in New Jersey, along with publishing several popular hiking, paddling, and multi-sport guides for the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Adirondacks.