Rules, FAQs & Advisories

Where is the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) and how far is it from New Haven?

The center is located in East Lyme, CT, only 42 miles from New Haven via I-95 north. For directions, click HERE.

When is the OEC open?

The 2022 season is June 17 through September 5 (Labor Day). The OEC grounds  are open Tuesday through Sunday during the season from 9:30AM to 5:30PM.

The OEC is closed on Mondays except Holidays.

What address should I use for my GPS or smart phone directions?

297 Upper Pattagansett Rd, East Lyme CT 06333 (Please don’t send mail here!)

How can I use the OEC?

To visit for just one day, present your valid Yale University or Yale New Haven Hospital (not Yale New Haven Health) ID at the Center’s check-in station and pay the day-use fees. Seasonal memberships are available for sale by mailing application and check to OEC, P.O. Box 208216, New Haven CT 06520.  Membership includes unlimited use of the OEC on a daily basis. For further information call the OEC Office at (203) 432-2492.

Can I bring non-Yale guests with me?

Yes, but you are limited to 6 people and you are responsible for their behavior. The regular day-use fees apply to guests.

How do I rent the Pavilion, Dining Hall or Gazebo for a party or wedding?

Call the office to check available dates and rates, 203-432-2492.  Check out our wedding photo gallery for ideas!

Do I have to buy a membership to rent a cabin or campsite?

You can either buy a membership or pay the non-member fee per cabin/campsite - per date.

How do I rent a cabin or campsite?

Call the OEC office at 203-432-2492, e-mail or stop by Payne Whitney Gym, Room 521. 

Can I rent a cabin for 1 night?

Cabins are rented for full weeks only from late June through Labor Day. However, weekends and single weeknights are available when the Center is less busy. Call for availability.

Can I rent more than one cabin or campsite?

You can rent two cabins (or two campsites) for yourself and a guest(s). More than two rentals requires a signed Use Agreement and insurance policy of 2 million dollars. You are responsible for your guest’s behavior and must be present during rental.

What is in a cabin?

Cabins 2-6 have 2 sleeping areas (2 bunk beds, 1 twin trundle (pulls out to a full).  In the kitchenette there is counter space, a two-burner hot plate, refrigerator with freezer and small kitchen sink with cold running water.

Cabins 1,7-9 have been renovated to include paneled walls and painted floors. They have 2 sleeping areas (2 bunk beds, 1 twin trundle (pulls out to a full), a door separates the two sleeping areas.  In the kitchenette there is counter space, a two-burner hot plate, full-size refrigerator and small kitchen sink with hot & cold running water.

Each cabin has its own charcoal grill, picnic table and small deck with view of the lake.

*All cabins have electricity and bottled Poland Spring water.

*There are no indoor toilets at the OEC, portable toilets are located outside and behind cabins. They are cleaned twice weekly.

How many people can stay in a cabin?

4 Adults or 2 Adults and 4 children

What are the Covid policies for overnight rentals?

Proof of covid vaccination & booster is required for all (eligible) overnight patrons, which occurs at the time of booking. Rentals are restricted to “family units” only, no overnight guests permitted.

What should I bring if I am staying in a cabin?

Partial list only!

Sheets or sleeping bags, pillows

Towels, soap, etc

Pots & pans (anything you will need to cook with)

Eating utensils (paper plates, plastic forks, spoons, etc)

Cleaning products (garbage bags, dish soap, paper towels, etc)

Bug spray and sunscreen


Charcoal for grill

Food and beverages

What is on a campsite?

The campsites have a grill, fire ring, picnic table, parking space and room for 1 large tent or 2 small tents. Bottled Poland Spring water. Limited campfire wood available upon request.

How many people can stay on the campsite?

4 Adults or 2 Adults and 4 children

What should I bring for camping?

Partial list only!


Sleeping bag

Towels, soap, etc

Pots & Pans (anything you will need to cook with)

Eating utensils (paper plates, plastic forks, spoons, etc)

Cleaning products (garbage bags, dish soap, paper towels, etc)

Bug Spray and sunscreen


Charcoal for grill

Food, beverages and cooler

Are pets allowed at the OEC?

No pets are not allowed at the OEC, except seeing-eye/service dogs with vests and paperwork.

Drone Policy

Yale’s drone/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) policy applies to “the operation by any person of an UAS on or above University property,” which includes the Outdoor Education Center

All drone/UAS activities must be reviewed and authorized by the Environmental Health & Safety Department and the Office of Risk Management.  Purely personal use of any drone/UAS is prohibited.  If a professional person is looking to fly a drone/UAS for an OEC event (such as a wedding) he/she must complete the flight Request Form.  The request will be reviewed, and then approved or denied.

Severe-Weather Waterfront Policy

Unsafe weather conditions (strong wind, fog, heavy rain, thunder or lightning) postpone or cancel swimming and/or watercraft use for the day. Staff decisions final.  Water activities may NOT resume until one half hour after the last thunder or lightening occurrence.

Firewood Policy

The woodlands surrounding our dirt roads and campsites are littered with small downed trees and tree limbs. You may harvest any of this dead or fallen wood for campfires (only in provided campfire pits), no cutting of live trees is allowed. No chainsaws or axes are allowed due to risk of severe injury. Persons age 16 and older may use hatchets or pruning saws to harvest or cut up wood, and protective eyewear and gloves must be worn. When walking the woods, please take normal precautions against ticks and poison ivy. Professionally split and seasoned firewood is available in limited daily quantities from the Outdoor Center staff.  A complimentary lakefront campfire is provided on most nights by our staff; everyone is welcome to attend. All fires must be attended to at all times and extinguished or allowed to die out before bedtime due to risk of forest fire. Only charcoal briquettes may be used in barbecue grills. State law prohibits transporting firewood from New Haven County due to infestation.

Firearms/Hunting Policy

-       No firearms of any type, loaded or unloaded, are permitted on Yale OEC property or trails.

-      No hunting, by any method, is permitted on Yale OEC property or trails.

What else do I need to know?

-       The OEC is not open on Mondays except holidays, it reopens at 10AM Tuesdays.

-       No fireworks are allowed at the OEC.

-       No motorcycles are allowed at the OEC.

-       Lifejackets (PFDs) must be worn at all times on watercraft.

-       No swimming without lifeguards on duty.

-       Waterfront rules and “quiet times” must be strictly adhered to.

-       There are many area attractions, restaurants, and shops within easy driving distance of the OEC. Check these links for more information  and www.discovereastlyme.comList of local attractions.

Wildlife Advisory:

    Part of the attraction of the OEC is its wilderness setting. You may be lucky to see many forms of wildlife, especially if you’re overnighting, including racoon, skunk, opossum, coyote, red fox, bobcat, wild turkey, deer, squirrel, chipmunk, turtles, non-poisonous snakes, and even the remote possibility of a black bear. We’ve spotted bald eagles and ospreys over the lake! You should appreciate all wildlife from a distance and not engage with or bother it. Please do not feed any wildlife, and do not leave ANY foodstuffs out at night or dropped on the ground.

Bears – Do’s and Don’ts
Bears in natural settings normally leave an area once they sense a human. If you see a bear, enjoy it from a distance. Aggression by bears towards humans is exceptionally rare.

DO make your presence known by making noise while walking. Hike in a group. If you see a bear, make noise, and wave your arms so the bear is aware of your presence.
DO back away slowly if you surprise a nearby bear.
DON’T approach or try to get close to a bear to take a photo or video.

DON’T come between a bear and her cubs.
DON’T run or climb a tree. If possible, wait in a vehicle or building until the bear leaves the area.
DO be offensive if the bear approaches you. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. Black bears rarely attack humans. If you are attacked, do not play dead. Fight back with anything available (rocks, sticks, pocketknife, keys, cellphone, bear spray, etc.).
DON’T cook food inside your tent or camp shelter. Instead, keep food in a secure vehicle (windows closed) or use rope to suspend it between two trees. Bring and use a “bear-proof” heavy-duty cooler to store food (outside of your tent or camp shelter).

DO empty nearby trash bins daily. We provide dumpsters and trash bags. Don’t leave food stuffs in trash bins overnight. Don’t throw used foodstuffs (chicken bones, fish carcasses, barbecue ribs, corn cobs, etc.) in the woods. Don’t feed bears.

DO bring and spray your barbeque grill grates with household bleach cleaner (like “Clorox Cleaner & Bleach”) to eliminate bear-attracting food smells after cooking.

DO use a flashlight after sunset.

 What do I need to know about tick-borne disease? (information below from

Preventing tick-borne disease takes thoughtful preparation. It requires that you prevent ticks from getting on your skin. When you go outside into areas where ticks can be found, it is helpful to:
  • Avoid tall grass and over-grown, brushy areas.
  • Stay in the middle of the trails when hiking in the woods.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so the ticks can be easily seen.
  • Wear long pants to provide a better barrier than shorts.
  • Tuck pants into socks creates a barrier and ticks will not be able to get to your skin.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and closed shoes when in tick infested areas.
  • Use insect repellent to significantly reduce the chance of tick bites and the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
  • DEET is the primary active ingredient in most tick repellents and is considered the most effective. It must be used as directed on the container.
  • Examine yourself, your children, and pets for ticks when returning indoors.
  • Remove crawling and feeding ticks as soon as possible. 
  • When returning indoors, shower using a wash cloth or buff to remove walking ticks on your body. Ticks have a tendency to walk on the body before biting and feeding.
The sooner ticks are removed from the body the less likely you will get a disease.
Most people with Lyme disease do not remember being bitten by a tick because a tick bite is not felt; unlike mosquito bites. Ticks are very small and difficult to see, and many people do not get the expanding red rash that resembles a bull’s eye and identifies Lyme disease or other infections.

Bees, mosquitos and biting flies: Like in any outdoor environment, bees, mosquitos and biting flies sometimes occur at the Outdoor Center; therefore, please come prepared with proper protective clothing and insect repellent. If you or your child is allergic to bees, be sure to pack your EpiPen.


Assumption of Risks and Safety 

1. Program Risks. You voluntarily and freely elect to participate at the Yale Outdoor Education Center (YOEC or “Program”), and you are not required by Yale to do so.  You understand that participation in the Program involves risks that Yale cannot eliminate, including, among others, risk of property damage, illness, bites or stings, bodily injury, permanent disability, and death. 
2. Assumption of Risk. You voluntarily take responsibility for all risks of participating in the Program for you and your dependent children.
3. Assumption of Medical Obligations: You should consult with a medical doctor regarding your medical needs and acknowledge there are no health-related reasons or problems that preclude or restrict you from participating in the activities of the Program. You should arrange, through insurance or otherwise, for payment of medical care, if necessary, while participating in the Program. You recognize that Yale is not obligated to attend to any of your medical needs, and you assume all risk and responsibility therefore. If you require medical care during your participation in the Program, Yale is not responsible for the cost or quality of such care.
4. Release. In exchange for Yale allowing you to participate in the YOEC Program, you release Yale from all legal and financial responsibility for any harm that you, your family, or your property, might suffer as a result of your participation, even if the harm is caused by Yale’s negligence. 
5. Indemnification. By participating in the Program, you agree to indemnify and hold Yale harmless from (that is to say, you agree to pay or reimburse Yale for) any costs, penalties, legal fees, or judgments (“Costs”) that Yale has to pay related to your participation in the Program, even if the Costs resulted from Yale’s negligence.
6. Waterfront Safety. You, your family, and guests understand that waterfront (swimming, fishing and all watercraft) use has inherent risks, and you will and must follow all YOEC waterfront safety rules and policies, including, but not limited to, the following: Only swimming in the designated areas, only swimming with a lifeguard on duty, not swimming in the deep end if you are a weak or non-swimmer, and wearing a PFD (Personal Floatation Device or “lifejacket”), properly fastened, aboard all watercraft at all times. You may not swim from any watercraft, and you may not land your watercraft at any point around the lake except at the designated beach or boat dock.

7. Lost, damaged or stolen items: Neither Yale University nor the OEC is responsible for lost, damaged or stolen items. Please keep valuables locked in your car, and remember to remove your cellphone/wallet/car keys from your pocket before swimming or paddling. Use caution over speed bumps on our gravel roads to prevent damage to the underside of your vehicle.