Dive Into Nature at the Wild Hudson Valley Eco Camp

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 the Catskill Creek in Cairo sits a 95-acre eco-camp filled with the rich history of the Hudson Valley. While surrounded by animals, plants, and water, campers can immerse themselves in nature during a weekend getaway at the Wild Hudson Valley Eco Camp.

Owners Anna Plattner and Justin Wexler founded Wild Hudson Valley in 2013. Since then, they have led classes, walks, and boat tours and offer seasonal Wild Harvest Box subscriptions of their forest-farmed 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 environmental education since he was a teenager, and for many years now we have collaborated on programming with organizations throughout the region,” Plattner says. 

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Anna and Justin leading a farm tour. Photo courtesy of Wild Hudson Valley

They began programming on their farm in 2021, but have worked with other local organizations for around 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 leading walks and workshops on our farm, hosting overnight guests seemed like a natural extension of what we were already doing, and a good way to give people a really immersive nature experience,” says Plattner.

With their newly established eco-camp, people can experience the vast land of the farm and learn about the history, culture, and languages of the Hudson Valley’s native people. Through programming and nature immersion, campers will learn how inhabitants lived on the land five centuries ago. 

“We work to connect the past with the present,” says Wexler, who has studied these cultures for over two decades. “We also collaborate with and teach about contemporary Mohican and Lenape communities and their efforts to preserve their beautiful languages and culture.” 

Photo courtesy of Wild Hudson Valley

In addition, the eco-camp will be filled with frequent programming such as evening stargazing, campfire storytelling, guided edible plant walks, and hands-on farm tours. On the weekend, there will also be specialty programming that will include birdwatching with an indigenous folklore twist, as well as a tour of the forest farming operations. Depending on the weekend, the camp may open up some of the specialty programs to the public so that non-campers can also participate. 

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After a long day in nature, campers can head back to their campsite for a relaxing night under the stars. The camp will provide a spacious furnished tent, linens, a firepit, a covered dining area, cooking supplies, and more. In addition, there is a bathhouse with three private bathrooms and cedar-lined showers. There is also a communal campfire and an interpretive center with educational resources on local ecology and indigenous history.

“Our goal is to provide a comfortable setting for even the most inexperienced camper, and we put a lot of care into selecting quality, eco-friendly amenities,” says Plattner.

When campers find free time during the weekend stay, they can explore the woods, meadows, and winding trails along the Catskill Creek. The fertile lowlands on both sides of the creek were once cultivated by the Catskill Mohicans, with records dating back to the 17th century. 

Justin leading a farm tour. Photo courtesy of Wild Hudson Valley

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 native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands and their relationship with nature. 

“Between Anna’s 10 years managing the largest forest farm in the country and my two decades of ethnoecological research and specialization in Hudson Valley Algonquian languages, we’re able to offer a truly unique perspective of the Hudson Valley landscape,” says Wexler. 

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The Hudson Valley Eco Camp is not just a business for Plattner and Wexler, since the property holds a special place in their hearts. Plattner grew up camping on the land for nearly 40 years with her family. Now, the couple are raising their daughter on the same land with the goal to preserve the nature around them.

“We have worked hard to improve this property for native plant species diversity, to preserve rare heirloom indigenous seed crops, and to cultivate a wide variety of plants and mushrooms in our agroforestry operations,” says Wexler. “We hope that our battle to steward a healthier, more biodiverse environment will inspire others to do the same for their land.”

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Anna and Justin harvesting wild oyster mushrooms on the farm. Photo courtesy of Wild Hudson Valley

As an experienced farmer, Plattner specializes in growing wild-simulated American ginseng and in outdoor mushroom cultivation. Before founding Wild Hudson Valley, Plattner managed the 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 that’s fishing, hiking, or swaying in a hammock, the Hudson Valley Eco Camp has it all. The camp is open from Memorial Day weekend to Indigenous People’s Day each season. The main programming events are designed for a weekend getaway, but the camp is open Thursday to Monday each week. All age groups are welcome at the camp and are celebrated for their unique perspective on the land and nature around them. 

Related: These Eco-Friendly Fish Farms Bring Seafood to the Valley

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