Page 12 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II & III • May 27, 2009 SCHOOLS & CAMPS Camp can help children learn to care for the earth This is the second part of an article that began in the May 20 edition of Villadom TIMES. Sometimes, a camp’s location can provide built-in environmental lessons. At Windsor Mountain (formerly Interlocken), camp life centers around a small farm and camp garden nestled in the foothills of New Hampshire on the edge of a 4,000acre nature preserve. “We offer kids a chance to get their feet wet in the morning dew, to feel the grass under their feet, to lie down in the field and look up at the stars. Our activities help them understand how Mother Nature is delicate and why we care about helping to protect her,” says Sarah Herman, director of the camp. Art and Nature Campers harvest vegetables from the garden for the salad bar and help take care of the farm animals. Children with a special interest in nature also can go directly into the marsh to learn about its animal habitats, into the woods to create natural art, or on a bog-wading ecological adventure. For older youth, three-day, off-campus trips can take campers backpacking, mountain climbing, rafting, and more — all with an eye to building awareness in the natural surroundings. Regardless of which you choose, nearly all campers leave with an enhanced appreciation of the outdoors, and some even take environmental skills into their own communities. “One of our campers who enjoyed our garden wrote to tell us that he’s volunteering his time to a community garden project,” Herman says. It’s that kind of lifelong love for nature that camps of all types can foster. “Fear of the woods and nature walls off so much excitement for too many children,” says Schenk. “We feel like we’re opening a door for many of our campers, so they can enjoy natural parks and wildlife preserves for the rest of their lives.” Doing What Comes Nature-ly According to Camping Specialist Gary Forster of YMCA USA, camps are an ideal setting for creating environmental awareness in our children. “Children seeing animals in a natural setting for more than just a day and understanding how their choices have an impact on all systems of life is just the beginning. From awareness grows an appreciation, and from that standpoint, we see children who are ready to act.” Interrelationships: Plants and animals live in communities that meet their special needs, and are connected through a “web of life.” To make good decisions, it is vital to be honest about how choices will affect other living things. Choices made now can affect the future. Cycles: The building materials of life (air, water, soil) are used over and over. Conservation does not just mean using less; it means learning to respect how natural systems work, and then working with them. Awareness leads to appreciation, which leads to action: When people care, they act differently. Individuals are in charge of their own actions first, and can positively change families, communities, and the nation. Resources: Decisions made everyday have lasting consequences. The more people understand about how things work, the wiser they can be in making decisions. Everyone can learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle natural resources. When individuals understand the responsibility they have to each other, and to other living things, it is possible to rethink old problems and create new solutions. Energy Flow: The sun is the source of energy for all living things. Green plants (producers) turn some of that energy into food, some of which is then used by animals (consumers); which can eventually be broken down for use again (by decomposers). People also harvest the sun’s energy when using solar, wind, and water power, and when using fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal. (Courtesy of YMCA Outdoor Education.) Take action in the backyard with these planet friendly ideas Start a recycling program at home. Find out what your community recycles and what happens to those materials. Save 3-5 gallons of water by turning off the water when brushing your teeth. When shopping, consider a product’s packaging. Is it disposable, or reusable/ recyclable? When cleaning, choose rags that can be washed and reused. Help keep the air clean by planting a tree in the backyard or in the neighborhood. For more information about finding the right camp and how to prepare for camp, visit or call 1-800428-CAMP. 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