Chalk it up to having grown up in California or being a water sign in the zodiac, I come alive during the summertime. The summer solstice is one of my favorite days of the year. It marks the beginning of my favorite season and the start of things I love to do: hiking, swimming, surfing, road trips, or leisurely catching a sunset on the water, which is how I spent this solstice down in Brooklyn.
Though I consider myself an experienced hiker and love spending time outdoors, I'd never been camping before (GASP!). The first official weekend of summer after the solstice called for a getaway. When I heard of CAMPO I knew I wanted to spend the weekend in the woods and try out this "sleep under the stars" thing I liked the idea of but had never really done before. They create pop-up campsites with the aim to get people out of cities and into the outdoors. What's unique about CAMPO is that their digs are ideal for camping newbies (like me) and experienced mountaineers alike (like my camping partner, Kyle).
The idea of camping has always been a bit intimidating as I don't know the first thing about "gear," or how to set up a tent, and especially didn't want to make an investment on a cumbersome piece of equipment if after the weekend I decided camping wasn't my "thing" (it is). Our tent was so spacious -- as big as some of the bedrooms I've inhabited in New York City. But let's be real, *ahem* bedrooms in NYC can sometimes be glorified closets.
Truly, camping wasn't this difficult, unknown thing I had anticipated, especially because we had everything needed at the site. It was sort of nice not to have an agenda (though if you want an agenda there are plenty of things CAMPO offers in addition to the campsites), and sit by the pond, wander along some trails and listen to woodpeckers while eating grapes around our tent.
The grounds at the CAMPO site have communal areas that include a kitchen, fire pit, ponds, and trails. After settling in and taking the afternoon and evening to relax, Kyle and I made a midnight snack of sandwiches and soup in the kitchen and sat around the fire, mingling with other campers, on night one. On day two we had breakfast at the picnic table in the Snack Shack and checked out a local (secret!) swimming hole. In between we explored the towns of the Western Catskills, watched a thousand fireflies dance like stars on earth, and got some much needed breathing room outside of NYC.
A few more things to know before you go:
- Communal kitchen has food storage and everythign you need for coffee + cooking
- Outdoor shower available powered by fresh spring water
- "Camp toilet" bathroom system
- Wi-Fi is available in a designated area, but you won't get cell service
- Coffee in the woods is better
- Extras include: yoga, kayaking, cooking classes & more
- Tents can accommodate groups of 2 or 4
- On the way up (if you're coming from NYC) a pit-stop at the Phoenicia Diner is not required, but highly recommended
- Ask your hosts about fun local shops and restaurants, and hikes and points of interest
I love that New Yorkers truly embrace the culture of "summering" with family or friends, and that Upstate New York has so much to offer, especially during the warmer months. Check out the CAMPO website and book your stay for a truly unique camping experience. Give them a follow on Instagram here.