Laura Arias, Staff Writer
The College Camp here at SUNY Oneonta is located on 276 acres of former farm land and offers students educational, recreational and social opportunities. When the land was bought in 1952, students and faculty were excited about the new opportunities that would be available. The College Camp is surrounded by a diverse population of about 10,000 trees and is home to a lovely pond; making this area perfect for fishing or even tanning on the grass surrounding the pond, while admiring the scenery.
For about 40 years the area was frequently used and was being worked on mainly for the accommodation of students but in 1993 college enrollment dropped and there were not enough funds to sustain it. It remained unused through the 1990s, and in 1999 the region suffered a tornado that destroyed portions of the Camp property and facilities. Many were disappointed but the students decided they wanted to revitalize the camp. In 2000, the joint financial efforts of the Student Association, the College and the Organization of Ancillary Services, decided to reopen the camp and fund its reconstruction as well as repair the damages that had been made.
Over the years many students have helped with different developments in the College Camp, such as the frame for the Iroquois Longhouse. In 2007, groups of students worked on installing the ceiling on the house, attaching bark to the frame, cutting smoke holes and making it homey.
Today, many students go to College Camp just to walk the different trails that surround the camp, but there are also many interesting and fun activities one could be a part of. College Camp’s Observatory, for instance holds public observation nights throughout the semester. The Observatory, which is run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has a variety of portable and stationary telescopes, including the largest optical telescope in New York State. This spring, the public observation nights are at 8:00 p.m. on April 6, April 20 and May 4.
College Camp’s activities list includes fishing, mountain biking, basketball, frisbee, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, camping, hiking, photography, retreats, overnights, public viewings at the observatory, programs at the Iroquois Longhouse, picnics and barbecues. Because you can access College Camp’s red and orange trails from campus, a quick hike between classes is a healthy way to spend a couple of hours.
So this spring when you’re done with your schoolwork and you and your friends are just sitting around and want to take a small trip, go up to the College Camp and enjoy the beauty of nature just a couple of miles from campus. Don’t forget your hiking boots!