Summer Science Camp

Black Rock Forest welcomed middle school (ages 11-15) students in summer 2021 for authentic, week-long learning experiences in nature, working directly with scientists, artists, and naturalists. Our focus is on understanding nature through scientific observation and investigation, and our classes allow students to explore areas of interest without the pressure of a grade. Classes are developed and taught by subject experts and provide an opportunity to explore college and career possibilities in the natural sciences while having fun in Black Rock Forest, a private 4,000 acre preserve in Cornwall, NY.

We are excited to run our camp in a healthy and safe way. We will be following all CDC, local, state, and government guidance and will continue to keep lines of communication open and transparent as summer approaches. Read more about our summer safety plan

Our Classes

The World of Insects: Infinite Variety on a Common Theme
Dr. Julian Stark, Associate Professor of Biology, CUNY/Queensborough Community College and Research Associate in Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History

In this class, students will be introduced to the fascinating world of insects. We will discuss how insects evolved, learn about their bizarre body parts and characteristics, survey the diversity of the different types, and explore how insects interact with other forest animals. The class balances time in the classroom with field investigations and laboratory work to analyze what was found in the field. Collection techniques will include several types of traps which will be emptied and the data recorded over the course of the week. We will also maintain live specimens in the lab for the duration of the class, to examine insect behavior in detail. Students will learn how to collect, preserve, and identify (to Order) specimens, and will make a 10-20 specimen collection box to take home upon the completion of the class.

TBD Price: $375

Cold Blooded Creatures: A Course in Field Herpetology
Ivan Monagan, Ph.D. student and Research Fellow at Columbia University and the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Leroy Nuñez, Ph.D. Candidate at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History.

Black Rock Forest, with its diverse habitats, is home to 34 different species of reptiles and amphibians. Students will apply field techniques used by biologists to find and catch reptiles and amphibians. In particular we will be setting drift fences in the forest and turtle traps in ponds. Ultimately students will learn how to identify the reptiles and amphibians of the forest using a dichotomous key, as well as learning about their ecology, behavior, and how to collect and analyze data for scientific research. Data that will be collected will include body measurements (e.g. shell measurements of turtles, body length of snakes), sex, location, and other important information at the time of capture. With this information students will be able to address questions about population demographics and habitat selection of the different reptile and amphibian species.

TBD Price: $375

Biodiversity Blitz: From Ambystoma to Zygoptera
Dr. Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch, Senior Lecturer, Barnard College

Explore the forest to examine as many species as you can: reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, plants, mammals, fungi and more. Interesting creatures can turn up in unexpected places. Last summer over 300 species were identified and observed and we hope to beat that number this summer! We will hike in wetlands, stream ravines, ridge tops, meadows and the forest while examining the amazing biodiversity in this part of planet Earth. Students will participate in ongoing scientific research at the forest: surveying birds by sight and sound along an elevation transect; capturing, measuring, weighing, and releasing painted turtles for a turtle population study; and identifying and counting invertebrates in a deer exclusion experiment. Students will also engage in daily art projects and cook with wild edible forest fruits and ingredients from our local farm. Participants will leave with an understanding and appreciation of the forest ecosystem, training in plant and animal survey methods, and a clear vision of the benefits of biodiversity and how to protect it on a personal and global scale.

TBD Price: $375

Our Instructors



Class ScheduleMonday – Friday
9:00AM – 3:00PM
World of InsectsTBD
Cold Blooded CreaturesTBD
Biodiversity Blitz: From Ambystoma to ZygopteraTBD

Please note that Summer Science Camp is a DAY CAMP.

While we are unable to provide lodging or supervision during non-camp hours, we invite interested families to contact us regarding arranging week-long visits to the area with a day camper. We can provide information on local lodging options as well as hiking, cultural, and recreational resources in the mid-Hudson Valley.

Registration now open.

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Our registration system is provided by ACTIVE Camp Network*.

All major credit cards are accepted. If you are not able to pay in full at the time of registration and would like to set up a payment, have problems registering, or would like special considerations for your student, please contact us.

Please be aware that once you complete registration for the Black Rock Forest Summer Science Camp, you will be asked by Active Network if you would like to subscribe to their “Active Advantage” program. This program is not affiliated with Black Rock Forest and is not required for attendance in our camp.

Read the information carefully and only accept if you would like to enroll in their monthly membership program

Black Rock Forest gratefully acknowledges the Dyson Foundation as a sponsor of need-based scholarships to the Summer Science Camp.
For inquiries regarding eligibility and the availability of scholarships, please contact us .

Click here to apply for a scholarship