Chemistry at Dirt Road Camp


I’ve recently concluded my third visit to Dirt Road camp since 2019. I was fortunate to find Dirt Road on an internet search, as I was seeking a campground that features seclusion and solitude. Soon after arriving that first time, I knew that I’d found what I’d been seeking and in fact much more.

At Dirt Road, Brad and Laura have created a woodland oasis, the likes of which are truly endangered, and probably otherwise non-existent within 2-3 hours of the New York tri-state area.

As a psychotherapist specializing in trauma treatment, I am daily exposed to a range and depth of human suffering that can easily be traumatizing in itself. Over the course of nearly four decades in mental health care, I’ve not found anything as effective in healing trauma wounds as time spent in a natural setting that allows for deep spiritual connection. Though I’ve camped in many public and private campgrounds over the years, Dirt Road provides a level of tranquility that is hard to match. There is no swimming pool here, basketball court, game room, or multi-use hygiene facilities. This is not your typical American family campground, and that is what makes it exceptional and valuable. The concept of “retreat” intends withdrawal from what is familiar: people, places, and routines, and allows for periods of prayer, meditation, and reflection.

The Dirt Road concept and design encourages and enables these restorative practices. It is discrete. A guest could have as much space and privacy as one could likely want. The unique shelters are carefully situated within the forest and bluestone mountain. The grounds and trails are traversable but not overly managed. The camp offers a delicate balance of rugged wilderness with well-chosen amenities. The creators of the camp have a wise understanding of the chemistry that is required for people to live in a wild setting without disrupting its fragile ecology. I am fearful that like with so many other unspoiled natural habitats that have given way to bureaucracy and corporate interests, Dirt Road camp will lose the equilibrium that it now boasts. I have recommended Dirt Road to both clients and colleagues, and plan to return as often as I am able. My mental health depends on it.

Jay Hochheiser, LCSW

Port Monmouth, N.j.