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How to Go Camping for Free in Prospect Park

By Leslie Albrecht | August 27, 2015 10:36am
 Enter a lottery Sept. 9 for a chance to camp out in Prospect Park.
Enter a lottery Sept. 9 for a chance to camp out in Prospect Park.
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Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

PARK SLOPE — If you've always wanted to sleep under the stars in Brooklyn's backyard, mark your calendar for Sept. 9.

That's when the Parks Department will hold an online lottery for people who want to sign up for the chance to camp out in Prospect Park on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Winners will get to spend the night in a tent in the park, where they'll dine on s'mores over a campfire and perhaps take a hike in the dark to look for nocturnal creatures or go stargazing, a parks spokeswoman said.

Only 30 applications are selected randomly during each lottery and the competition is expected to be fierce. Last year, 133 families signed up for the popular event.

The free campouts are billed as family camping nights, but couples without kids are welcome, as are groups of friends. However, the Parks Dept. encourages each group to have at least two people, a spokeswoman said.

The night in the wild is led by the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers, who specialize in connecting city-dwellers with the natural world. The Rangers lead campouts throughout the summer at parks in all five boroughs — including upcoming dates at Fort Totten and Pelham Bay parks — as well as other programs such as hawk watching, canoe trips and lunar eclipse viewing.

Rangers provide free tents — and help assemble them — but each group is responsible for their own bedding, food and non-alcoholic beverages.

There's no minimum age, but parents of very small children may want to wait until their little ones are older.

"Generally older kids will get more out of the experience then babies and toddlers, as will their parents," a Parks spokeswoman told DNAinfo New York.

The lottery to sign up for camping in Prospect Park starts at midnight Sept. 9 and closes at 11:59 p.m. Details about how to enter are here.