Photos courtesy of Wild Hudson Valley
Led by Wild Hudson Valley, the eco-conscious camp offers nature-focused programming that celebrates the beauty of the region.
Nestled beside Catskill Creek in Cairo is a 95-acre eco-camp filled with the rich history of the Hudson Valley. Surrounded by animals, plants and water, campers can immerse themselves in nature on a weekend getaway to Hudson Valley Wild Eco Camp.
Owners Anna Plattner and Justin Wexler founded Wild Hudson Valley in 2013. Since then they have hosted classes, walks and boat trips and offer seasonal Wild Harvest Box subscriptions of their forest and foraged foods. After discussing the idea of an eco-camp, the couple decided it was time to share their love of programming and nature with others.
“Justin has worked in the field of environmental education since he was a teenager, and for many years we have collaborated on programs with organizations throughout the region,” says Plattner.
They started programming on their farm in 2021, but have been working with other local organizations for about 10 years. In the past they have collaborated with Rensselaer Plateau, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, Bard College, SUNY Cobleskill and Columbia Greene for a variety of events.
“When we started hosting walks and workshops on our farm, having overnight guests seemed like a natural extension of what we were already doing and a good way to give people a truly immersive nature experience,” says Plattner. .
With their newly created eco-camp, people can experience the vast territory of the farm and learn about the history, culture and languages of the indigenous peoples of the Hudson Valley. Through programming and immersion in nature, campers will learn how people lived on the land five centuries ago.
“We work to connect the past with the present,” says Wexler, who has studied these cultures for more than two decades. “We also collaborate with contemporary Mohican and Lenape communities and teach them about their efforts to preserve their beautiful languages and culture.”
Plus, the eco-camp will be filled with frequent programs like evening stargazing, campfire storytelling, guided edible plant walks, and hands-on farm tours. On the weekends there will also be specialized programming that will include birdwatching with an indigenous folkloric twist, as well as a tour of forest farms. Depending on the weekend, the camp may open some of the specialty programs to the public so non-campers can also participate.
After a long day in nature, campers can return to their campsite for a relaxing night under the stars. The camp will provide a spacious furnished tent, linens, fire pit, covered dining area, cooking utensils and more. Additionally, there is a public bath with three private bathrooms and cedar showers. There is also a communal campfire and interpretive center with educational resources on local ecology and native history.
“Our goal is to provide a comfortable setting for even the most inexperienced campers, and we take great care in selecting quality, eco-friendly equipment,” says Plattner.
When campers find some free time on the weekends, they can explore the woods, meadows, and winding trails along Catskill Creek. The fertile lowlands on both sides of the creek were once farmed by the Catskill Mohicans, with records dating back to the 17th century.
For Plattner and Wexler, the history of the land is just as important as its use today. As an ethnoecologist, Wexler has spent two decades studying the indigenous peoples of the eastern forests and their relationship to nature.
“Between Anna’s 10 years managing the largest forest farm in the country and my two decades of ethnoecological research and specialization in the Algonquian languages of the Hudson Valley, we are able to offer a truly unique perspective of the Hudson Valley landscape,” says Wexler.
The Hudson Valley Eco Camp isn’t just a business for Plattner and Wexler, as the property holds a special place in their hearts. Plattner grew up camping in the field for nearly 40 years with his family. Now, the couple are raising their daughter on the same land in an effort to preserve the nature around them.
“We have worked hard to enhance this property for native plant species diversity, to preserve rare native seed crops, and to grow a wide variety of plants and fungi in our agroforestry operations,” says Wexler. “We hope that our battle to manage a healthier and more biodiverse environment will inspire others to do the same for their land.”
As an experienced farmer, Plattner specializes in growing wild simulated American ginseng and growing outdoor mushrooms. Prior to founding Wild Hudson Valley, Plattner ran American Ginseng Pharm. Now she leads Wild Hudson Valley’s agroforestry production and educational programming.
In Cairo, campers can spend a summer weekend doing what they love. Whether it’s fishing, hiking, or swinging in a hammock, the Hudson Valley Eco Camp has it all. The camp is open from Memorial Day weekend through Indigenous Peoples Day each season. The main lineup events are designed for a weekend getaway, but camp is open Thursday through Monday each week. All age groups are welcome at camp and are celebrated for their unique perspective on the land and nature around them.
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