If you’ve always wanted to go camping, but haven’t yet given it a try, New York is here to help you.

New York officials announced that this summer they will again offer first-time campers the chance to camp for free over a weekend. In fact, they’ll also provide first-time campers with necessary equipment and guidance.

The program is for New York residents. Campers get the use of a campground for free over a weekend. They are also provided with a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, lantern, and even firewood.

A camping ambassador meets families at the campsite and helps them get camp set up with a camping 101 lesson. Bathrooms and hot showers are a short walk from the campsites. Campers also have an opportunity to learn from experts about how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle and more.

Interested New York residents can apply to participate in the First-Time Camper program by using an online sign-up form which enters them into an online lottery. The application period for the lottery selection process runs from May 10 to May 12. Eligible participants who apply for the lottery during that period will be randomly selected to fill first-time camper slots.

Established in 2017 with eight parks, the program expanded last year and now, for its third season, will include 11 campgrounds over nine weekends from late June until after Labor Day. Select locations include the Catskills and Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, and Western New York.

Campgrounds are available throughout the state to give all New Yorkers an opportunity to enter and participate if selected. Details about the program and how to apply can be found on DEC’s website. Information about the properties hosting the First-Time Camper program can be found at the links below. Participating locations and dates include:

DEC Campgrounds:

6/21-6/23 Luzerne Campground
7/19-7/21 Nicks Lake Campground
8/2-8/4 Ausable Point Campground
8/16-8/18 North South Lake Campground and Kenneth L Wilson Campground
9/6-9/8 Frontier Town Campground

State Parks Campgrounds:

7/12-7/14 Moreau Lake State Park
7/26-7/28 Taconic State Park – Copake Falls
8/9-8/11 Golden Hill State Park and Evangola State Park
8/23-8/25 Four Mile Creek State Park