Camping isn’t something you have to do in Poughkeepsie or in the Poconos. There are over 1,700 parks of all types nestled within the five boroughs in addition to 32 square miles of open space out in Jamaica Bay. You know what else? You're free to camp in NYC's public parks, provided that you have clearance from the Urban Park Rangers, an arm of the City of New York Parks & Recreation department. The program works like this: visit the Urban Park Rangers website, select the boroughs or locations in which you’d like to pitch a tent, and keep an eye out for the registration dates which open and close within a 24-hour window. Roughly 30 household submissions per location are chosen at random for an overnight camping jaunt on a specified date. There’s a bit of red tape to overcome with the process, but if you make the cut, you can explore faraway locations such as Staten Island’s Wolfe’s Pond Park! If you’re eager to start living off the land now, you can always head over to Occupy’s Zuccotti Park. (I keed, I keed).

Upcoming registration dates and locations for summer 2012:

The Bronx (Pelham Bay Park): Saturday, September 15, 2012
Online registration opens on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Queens (Fort Totten Park): Saturday, September 8, 2012 from 6pm to 8am
Online registration opens on Thursday, August 30, 2012

Staten Island (Wolfe's Pond Park): Saturday, September 22, 2012
Online registration opens on Monday, September 10, 2012

For more information about the Family Camping program, refer to the Urban Park Ranger’s newsletter.

Additionally, as part of the Gateway Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey, the Floyd Bennett Field Historic District covering parts of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, Queens, and a portion of Staten Island allows overnight camping at a rate of $20 a day for up to two weeks. Check here for information on booking a plot.

Pull that tent off your rooftop. Have a real camping experience in your local park to top off a great summer.