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

By Sandy Schenck

Growing up in an increasingly competitive and stressful world, Green River Preserve thinks it is important for their campers to learn healthy and rewarding ways to spend their leisure time.  As a result, campers learn skills that they can use for life.  In the pioneer village at camp, campers are taught primitive skills practiced by the early settlers of the Appalachian Mountains. A harvested Poplar Tree’s bark is used for making baskets and the inside of the bark is stripped to make cordage, rope made from DSCF4440tree bark.  Campers learn about fiber by spinning their own raw wool and dying it with dyes made from plants collected on the Preserve.  Beeswax balm, candles, outdoor cooking, gourd art, and fire by friction are just a few of the other primitive skills and crafts offered in the Pioneer village.  Fly fishing or as we prefer to call it, “Aquatic Theology,” remains a highlight of the Schenck family and campers recognize the importance of catch and release fishing. Weekend camping trips include low impact camping skills and the seven ethics of Leave no Trace, an educational partner of Green River Preserve.

Exposure to natural settings lowers children’s stress levels and protects their emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.   Spending time outdoors raises levels of vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.  In the last 40 years, obesity in children has quadrupled!  One in three American children is obese.   At the present rate our nation is going, the number one adulthood killer for children of today will be obesity. Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies.  (American Camp Association 2011 study)

A recent Nielsen study showed that 75% of American children ages 12 to 17 have cell phones. One third of them are smart phones, a walking computer.  They are sending 33,000 texts a month!   Children are talking less and less to each other.  They are loosing the art of conversation.  They are forgetting how to write the English language.  Camp is a social interaction place.  You have to talk to people at camp.  It encourages it.  It requires children to unplug.  There is no texting!   Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships. 

(Part V will be posted next week.)