Watchung Reservation Available for Outdoor Meetings

Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent executive order set a limit on indoor gatherings to 10 people or less.  That has created a dilemma for most Scout units, as they are now unable to hold meetings indoors, except by den or patrol.  Packs, troops and crews are scurrying to find outdoor meeting locations.

Recognizing this problem, the Union County Department of Parks & Recreation will now allow units of the Patriots’ Path Council to utilize the Scout Camping Area in the Watchung Reservation for outdoor meeting purposes without having to apply for a permit or pay a fee.  This offer will remain in effect until the prohibition on group camping is lifted.

The Scout Camping Area includes four open lawn campsites, a large activity field, two centrally located covered pavilions, two shelters located between the campsites, a freeze-proof water hydrant, and a 75-seat Council Ring.  Each campsite has a raised group-sized charcoal grill, and from one to four fire rings, each with a picnic table.  The Scout Camping Area is centrally located in the 2,143-acre Watchung Reservation, near the Trailside Nature & Science Center, and is connected by 60 miles of hiking and bridle trails to Lake Surprise, Seeley’s Pond, the Watchung Stable and the Deserted Village of Feltville.

Free use of the Scout Camping Area during the pandemic is subject to the following conditions:

  • Unit gatherings can have no more than 25 people in attendance (per Executive Order No. 204), including Scouts, leaders and family members;
  • Outdoor meetings are limited to a two-hour duration;
  • All activity must occur during daylight hours;
  • Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, unless another unit has obtained a permit for a particular site;
  • Units must still apply for a permit for use of Pavilions A or B, and pay the permit fee.

Some service project opportunities are available; contact Dan Bernier at [email protected] at least one week in advance.

Scout units looking for a site for an outdoor awards ceremony can use the Council Ring in the Scout Camping Area, or they can reserve the 150-seat amphitheater that is located near the former Trailside Museum building.

A certificate of insurance that covers units of the Patriots’ Path Council is already on file with the county.

To get a map of trails in the Watchung Reservation, or to obtain a Scout Camping Area permit application, go to the Union County website at

A Scout Camping Area permit application also is available by clicking here.