PEEC has been introducing visitors to the great outdoors for 50 years.
PTN’s Brianna Strunk visited Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) to help celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary!
Get up close to live animals, visit interactive exhibits, and stretch your legs on six public hiking trails at PEEC.
Open year-round, PEEC is known for its day and overnight school field trips, scout programs, summer camps and team building courses. There are special workshops for the public, plus groups can rent space for meetings and retreats.
The non-profit has hosted more than one million visitors since 1972, and in many cases, this is their first true experience with nature.
“They become more comfortable just being outside in the forest, which a number of our students coming from cities don’t have access to regularly,” said director of education Stephanie Sherman.
It’s a place to connect with nature, but couples originally came here to connect with each other. PEEC was once Honeymoon Haven, one of the Poconos’ premiere honeymoon resorts.
“Everything here on the property is either the existing structure from when it was that facility, or we’ve renovated it in some way, shape, or form,” said director of operations Derek Scott.
The original honeymoon cabins have been converted into overnight accommodations for students and groups. They are also rented at times as Airbnb’s.
“This is still very much run like a resort, but the focus is now primarily on environmental education,” Scott added.
The old bowling alley has been separated into classrooms while the former swimming pool was transformed into crawl and walk through exhibits, including a replica bat cave and beaver lodge.
“These are areas that humans would not typically have access to or be able to explore,” Sherman said.
PEEC sits within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA), one of the country’s most popular outdoor destinations, known for its access to the Delaware River and home to Pennsylvania’s tallest waterfall.
“The combination of an overnight camp or nature center that is also situated on National Park property is very unique,” Scott explained.
PEEC has come a long way in the last half-century and has no plans of slowing down.
“Our goal for the next 50 years is to increase the number of people that use our facility and to whom we can provide environmental and sustainability education,” said executive director Jeff Rosalsky.
But the journey to this point hasn’t always been easy. In 2018. Severe storms brought down 1,000 trees, blocking trails and crushing cabins. Then the COVID-19 pandemic followed, forcing the in-person camp to pivot into creating a virtual curriculum and online outreach.
“The nice part is, we’re going to be able to use that in an innovative way going forward,” Rosalsky added.