The American Camp Association (ACA) has been a great source of inspiration in the development of Green Camps Initiative to support camps in accessing the benefits of sustainable education and development. My previous camp directors encouraged leadership staff to participate in ACA endorsed educational events and accreditation visits which provided exposure to the way in which the ACA supports the camp community. It was through these experiences that I saw an opportunity to share how sustainable education and development can help camps take the next step in demonstrating an appreciation for the natural environment.
The intention of my visit to the ACA offices was to talk with Tom Holland and the ACA staff about the role that sustainability can and is already playing in the camp community. When discussing sustainability, many camp directors have told me that they associate teaching sustainability with providing campers access to the natural environment. The natural world is a great classroom for teaching the principles of sustainability from the conservation of resources to the interconnectedness of the organisms within a given ecosystem. Green Camps Initiative asks how each unique camp can use observations in nature to draw lessons back to their home communities.
The presentation to the ACA included case studies of sustainable initiatives such as compost programs, solar water heaters, ecological restoration projects and many other sustainable initiatives currently being practiced at camps across the US. These initiatives demonstrate the benefits that can result by making program and facility decisions using a lens of sustainability. Camps are reducing their environmental impact by the efficient use of natural resources, educating visitors with practical demonstrations of sustainability and saving money by reduced consumption of energy and water. There isn’t one model of sustainability that will fit each unique camp, but using a sustainable lens you can find solutions that will work for your camp.
Below is a copy of the presentation I gave at the ACA office. Unfortunately my commentary isn’t included, but if you’d like to learn more about the specifics of the presentation please contact me.
I’ve also included an overview of the research proposal to gather survey data in order to determine the role that sustainable education and development can and is already playing in the camp community. This research will provide the camp community with data to make informed decisions about how to implement sustainable practices with an understanding of the short and long term educational, environmental and economic benefits.[embeddoc url=”http://greencampsinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Sustainable-Camps-research-proposal-15-Sep-223.docx”]
Following my presentation, Rob Stout, the facility technician showed me around the ACA Office to conduct a basic walk through Green Audit. Rob provided a great overview of the facility and some of the ways in which they are already demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. I loved learning about the library in the office that contains a huge collection of some of the original texts that helped develop camp programs.
Here are some of the examples of sustainable practices I saw while touring the ACA office.
- Many of the lights in the office have been upgraded to high efficiency LEDs
- A water jug allows staff to refill reusable water bottles to reduce the need to use disposable plastic bottles.
- Separate trash and recycling bins allow staff to simply sort waste.
- Exit signs have been upgraded to LED fixtures which can save up to $37 a year. Read more about led exit signs here
- Recycle paper and plastic
- Use of a cleaning company that uses all environmentally friendly cleaning products.
I look forward to continuing the conversation about the benefits of sustainable education and development with the American Camp Association.
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