Watchung Reservation Reopens for Overnight Group Camping

The Union County Department of Parks & Recreation has announced that it has reopened the Scout Camping Area in the Watchung Reservation for overnight group camping, and applications are now being accepted.

The Scout Camping Area can be utilized by any Scout group (and, in fact, by any nationally recognized youth-serving organization). The permit fee structure provides a lower rate for user groups that are based in Union County. The designation is based on the address of the person submitting the permit application.

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 rings, each with a picnic table.  The Scout Camping Area is centrally located in the 2,111-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.

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.

Scout leaders are responsible for maintaining a COVID-safe environment for all camping participants. Face masks must be worn by all unvaccinated persons while in enclosed spaces, including in tents except while sleeping. Unless tent mates are family members, unvaccinated campers should be assigned to a tent by themselves, or tent mates should arrange their sleeping positions to keep at least a 6-foot distance between heads while sleeping.

Since January 2021, the County of Union has been allowing use of the Scout Camping Area by Scout units for outdoor meetings, without a permit or fee, as an accommodation to the pandemic. That offer ended on July 9. Now, any Scout unit utilizing any portion of the Scout Camping Area, for any length of time, must apply for and be granted a permit and pay the appropriate fee.

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 Certificate of Insurance that covers units of the Patriots’ Path Council, BSA, is already on file with the county.

Only the fillable pdf Scout Camping Area Permit Application found here and on the county website and last updated on Nov. 2, 2020, will be accepted. Please delete any older versions of the application form to avoid a delay in the processing of your request.