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MANHATTAN, N.Y. – City kids are getting a chance to explore the great outdoors and learn camping survival skills in Manhattan.

Living in New York City, it’s not something these kids are used to, but they’re loving it.

“It’s really beautiful and it’s peaceful,” 10-year-old Analia Escotto said.

As part of summer camp with the Police Athletic League in Morningside Park, they’re learning the sacred order of survival: fire, water, food, and shelter – the most important.   

They built a debris hut on Monday made with materials found in the park. 

“You could be out camping in the woods and you could just get lost and you don’t know your way back and you could just build something like that and it’ll keep you warm with your body so you could survive,” Escotto said.

By getting familiar with the natural environment in their neighborhood, they’re also building confidence and self-reliance, according to Jennie Bonilla, the center director at Harlem Center.

“It’s been a difficult year so just being able to come out and appreciate nature, each other, breathe freely, and definitely learn the skills that they will need for the future,” Bonilla said.

One by one, each camper huddled inside to see what it would be like to spend the night if it ever came down to it.

“I don’t like the fact that I’m getting bitten by mosquitoes, but I like the fact that I get to have friends and we get to be doing different stuff together outside,” 10-year-old Rebecca Weekes said.

If they don’t have the opportunity to go camping in the future, they’ll still be able to transfer these skills in other areas of their life and share it with friends.