By Green River Preserve

One of Green River Preserve’s four Woodcraft Laws, Beauty, is among the values most essential to the Preserve’s daily life, mission, and community. Like Love, Truth, and Fortitude, this law hangs in the Lodge, a constant reminder to all who walk through of the foundation upon which this camp was built. However, GRP’s definition of beauty is one that is unlike those found in our larger cultural consciousness today, and it is one that works to redefine the way both campers and staff approach such a ubiquitous term and relearn it as something that goes far beyond one’s appearance.

Indeed, GRP’s Woodcraft Law for beauty never once mentions any sort of appearance, focusing instead on cleanliness, environmental stewardship, and self care. “Be clean,” it reads, “both yourself and the place you live in. Understand and respect your body, for it is the temple of the spirit. Be a friend of all wildlife. Conserve land, forest, and rivers.” As a former camper and a current staff member of the Preserve, I have seen firsthand the ways this law is consistently lived out, whether unconsciously or consciously, each day. On Mentor hikes, campers may take from the forest a leaf or two of sourwood or sassafras in order to taste it, but, as a means of respecting the wildlife around us, campers are encouraged to keep these tastings to a minimum. As a part of preparation for Campout—GRP’s two-night backpacking trip that starts tomorrow!—staff members teach campers Leave No Trace ethics, a style of camping focused on respecting nature and leaving no impact, whether in the water we drink or on the ground upon which we sleep. In manners like this, GRP truly strives to be a friend of all wildlife and to conserve the land we are so lucky to have.

And yet, in the more traditional sense of the word, GRP offers incredible beauty to those who hike its trails. Today, a group of campers hiked to Fawn Lake in DuPont State Forest—one of the lengthier Mentor Hikes on which campers embark—to be greeted at the end with a placid lake, blue sky, and refreshingly cool water. Another group explored the Balds, where they enjoyed one of the most expansive views of the Blue Ridge the Preserve has to offer. Regardless of its definition, the Preserve has no shortage of beauty, and we are so grateful that campers are able to discover and live out this beauty every summer!

Katherine Poore