Sustainability, Green River Preserve, and the Educational Benefits of Summer Camp: Part I

By Sandy Schenck

(Six-part series written by Missy Schenck, Executive Director.)

Western North Carolina is home to 83 summer camps.  At 24 years old, Green River Preserve is considered “the new kid on the block,” in the presence of so many established, traditional camps.  Sandy Schenck knew that if he was to succeed in starting a new camp in Western North Carolina, a niche was necessary. When Green River Preserve was founded in 1988, one aspect of the camp’s mission was to teach future leaders to be better stewards of the land.  It remains the hallmark of the camp today; a niche in sustainability that no other camp in this region claims.  

The Schenck family purchased the land that is Green River Preserve in 1953.  As a child, Sandy Schenck traveled on weekends and summers to their family’s property on Green River to fly fish and hunt.  He was very fortunate to learn the lore of his family’s land from families who had lived in the Green River valley for generations.  From these memorable teachers, he learned a reverence for the land and a joy for outdoor living.  They were his counselors and he was their camper.   The reasons for starting the camp were rooted in Sandy’s childhood memories, in lessons passed from one generation to the next, and in the simple pleasure of sharing nature with young people.  

In 1987, construction of the base camp began in an old cornfield bordered by springs.  Timber harvested from the site became logs for the camp’s lodge and cabins. Virtually the entire camp was built by people from the Green River valley. From sawyer to carpenter, stonemason to electrician, the people who built the camp are from many of the same families that taught Sandy to love the Green River valley so long ago. The sustainable practice of using timber harvested on the preserve for building projects and craftsmen from the valley continues today…  

(Part II will be posted next week.)