For many kids day or overnight camp is one of the best parts of summer because of the activities they are involved in and the chances to meet some of the greatest friends they’ll ever have.
At the same time since so much of what goes on at camp is related to the great outdoors better consideration should be taken in terms of how all that programming affects the environment.
After all when a lot of people gather in rural locations it can create a lot of waste and wreak havoc on local ecosystems.
That being the case consider the following points for a greener summer camp experience and how that can foster better appreciation for the world around us in our children.
One of the immediate results of summer camps being in session is accumulation of a lot of trash in areas that typically have little contact with people ten months out of the year. Furthermore, depending on the type of garbage it can affect wildlife, streams and rivers, and vegetation.
Where does all the trash come from? Mostly cafeterias, overnight housing, and overnight camping trips yet despite the problem the issue can be dealt with in several ways:
Recycle: Trash can become less of an issue if people understood more about recycling. That’s why establishing easily accessible recycling centers around the campgrounds listing why recycling is important and what can and cannot be recycled will give kids the knowledge to better understand how to deal with their trash.
Reuse: All staff and campers should be encouraged to stop using disposables and have reusable water bottles, cups, and utensils on hand. This will tremendously cut down on the amount of trash being generated.
Repurpose: Many types of trash can be repurposed for other things such as art projects or building things so whenever the opportunity presents itself repurposing is a great way of dealing with various types of trash.
Ask electricians in San Diego which was recently named the summer camp capital of the US and they will tell you energy consumption at summer camps isn’t usually high because of all the outdoor activities. Nevertheless there are areas where administrations can cut back usage.
Air-conditioning: This is probably used mainly in staff lounges and offices. Ceiling or regular fans are big energy savers and allow the AC to be saved for when its really needed.
Lights: Indoors camps could use Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) which can save nearly 80% of what it costs to burn incandescents. Outdoor lights can be converted to solar power so they are totally off the grid.
Electronics: Since camp is about a change of scenery campers should be encouraged to cut down on using electronics.
- However, keep in mind energy is still being used when chargers are left plugged in or devices are sitting idle.
Chances are there aren’t a lot of cars passing through the camp grounds but there are ways to make camp transportation a bit greener.
Drop off and pick up days: Bus kids in and out to cut down on traffic coming and going from rural areas.
- Walk around campus: Try to get staff to walk around campus instead of driving through roads in the woods. Alternatively a number of bicycles could be left at various spots for everyone to use.
Let’s face it, everyone has to eat and if a camp supplies meals there are a number of ways to turn food consumption into a greener process. For instance:
Buy local: Depending on a camp’s location it may be possible to buy produce locally and support farmers in the region. It’s a great way to cut down on the carbon footprint companies often run up importing fruits and vegetables.
Garden: If a camp has large swaths of land it could use some of it for agriculture and grow crops to be used during the summer. This may take some planning but even if it begins next spring it’s an amazing venture showing kids what being sustainable is all about.
- Organic matter: Finally, a lot of organic matter gets tossed into the trash despite the fact it has two specific values. First, it can be used for compost and second, it can be collected and used to feed animals. For this reason camp administrations should get in touch with local farmers who may want to come by every day or so and collect all scraps.
Jakob Barry is a green living journalist for Networx.com. Networx.com helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to electricians and HVAC contractors Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional. Photo source