Nature Education: Go Green Ideas!

  1. Walk through the buildings and be sure thermostats are set to proper temperature.
  2. Catch run-off water from roofs to water flowers later.     
  3. Put up signs to remind people to turn off lights.
  4. If you must print on paper, use half-sheets when possible.
  5. Get motion-sensing light switches.
  6. Use e-mail instead of printed newsletters or memos.
  7. Use low-flow showerheads.
  8. Use people-powered wagons for short deliveries within camp instead of gasoline-powered vehicles.
  9. Check the energy efficiency of the building. Utilize your own property staff, or ask a professional to help.
  10. Change filters on equipment frequently.
  11. Check insulation, drafty windows and doors, ceilings and walls, air ducts, refrigerators, air conditioners, furnaces, and boilers.
  12. Use computerized thermostats that set back over time, keep proper temps in different rooms.
  13. Install sun filters on windows.
  14. Photocopy on both sides of the paper.
  15. Revisit existing programs or activities, emphasizing conservation
    . . . turn "Clean Cabin Award" into "Cabin Conservation Award"; "nap time" becomes "human energy conservation period." Let the campers put an environmental or conservation purpose into typical camp activities.
  16. Use marker boards more, easel pads less.
  17. Have each cabin group adopt a trail for the camp season, keeping it clean all season long.
  18. Use scrap paper.
  19. Plant perennial flowers and herbs instead of annuals.
  20. Check your document before printing – does it use excessive pages?
  21. Play games related to environmental awareness.
  22. Use computers more, paper less.
  23. Keep charts: maintenance of equipment, temperature of refrigerators/freezers, utility costs. Monitor usage and maintenance closely.
  24. Put up educational posters showing what your camp is doing to conserve energy.
  25. When brushing your teeth, turn off the water.
  26. Do more outdoor activities (in every program area!).
  27. Take short showers.
  28. Complain about the weather less; appreciate the outdoors more.
  29. Add a section to the camp Web site on how the camp has "gone green."
  30. Remind people to turn off lights and close doors.
  31. Build nesting boxes for birds.
  32. Re-use supplies. Repair before replacing.
  33. Make recycled arts and crafts.
  34. Start a weather forecasting program at camp.
  35. Consider "green" architecture when you build.
  36. Be a nature sleuth: develop your own detective kit with magnifying glass paper and pencil to record interesting things you see while hiking.
  37. Wear weather-appropriate clothing.
  38. Use rechargeable batteries in your flashlights.
  39. Get recycling dumpsters, and place containers around your camp.
  40. Have a sound-pollution free day—no radios, televisions, CDs, or other non-natural sounds.
  41. Buy supplies and equipment that has less packaging.
  42. Make a compost area.
  43. Water landscaping lawns and athletic fields conservatively.
  44. Change to low energy light bulbs.
  45. Pass energy and resource costs on to members, to encourage them to conserve too.
  46. Create an environmental award or program.
  47. Create an environmental committee of staff and volunteers.
  48. Plant a garden of flowers and/or vegetables.
  49. Plant native plants
  50. Buy supplies and equipment made from recycled material.
  51. Good resources: Ten Minute Field Trips, Project Wild, Project Learning Tree, Leopold Project, Globe Project.
  52. Put up bird feeders.
  53. Find metaphors in nature; teach life’s lessons.
  54. Take a field trip to a nature center or environmental education program.
  55. Have a special tree in camp. Give it a personality, meet by it, tell stories about its long life.
  56. Invite camp staff to provide program ideas.
  57. Make use of wild land near your camp.
  58. Call the experts (free!): County Soil and Water Conservation, Department of Natural Resources, 4-H, Agricultural Extension, private practice, others.
  59. Keep records of natural occurrences ("Phenology"): blooming of flowers, arrival of birds and insects, rainfall, high and low temperatures.
  60. Create environmental programs for all program areas.
  61. Have an award for great environmental ideas submitted by members or staff.
  62. Check with others before you get in the car, combine trips.
  63. Pick litter up in the parking lot and grounds.
  64. Get some washable dishes and cups.
  65. Order the right amount of food.
  66. Use curtains or blinds on windows to reduce heat loss in the winter months, and also to keep the building cool during the summer months by reducing sun infiltration.
  67. Put identification signs by some of the trees around your camp.
  68. Add trees and shrubs around your buildings to help shade and insulate them.
  69. Set computers and office machines to save energy.
  70. Participate in local clean-up projects, like Adopt-A-Highway, park or stream cleaning.
  71. Be aware of environmental issues, provide information to campers, and act like a concerned citizen.
  72. Hold an event on Earth Day.
  73. Ride your bike to work.
  74. Put up a bike rack for people.
  75. Check your cleaning chemicals – are they friendly?
  76. Check your air conditioner for leaks.
  77. Wrap water pipes in insulation.
  78. Try installing a waterless urinal or a composting toilet. (They get better all the time!)
  79. Put up an energy demonstration area, where a solar panel, wind, or water mill powers something.
  80. Put out weather instruments; thermometer, barometer, rain gauge, etc.
  81. Have an area of camp that is kept free of human impact, put a sign by it that says, "Wilderness Island."
  82. Train staff to make use of natural teachable moments.
  83. Have a food waste monitoring program.
  84. Use less packaging in food served.
  85. Remind campers that the trails of your camp are special, even hallowed. Add this to closing campfire.
  86. Show campers the big dipper.
  87. Tell campfire stories like Where the Red Fern Grows, or My Side of the Mountain, or To Light a Fire.
  88. Check all staff attitudes. Be positive about the weather, the raccoons, even the bugs.
  89. Ask counselors, when walking back to cabins after the meal, to stop and show campers three fascinating leaves.
  90. Have some field guides available for borrowing. Encourage people to learn a few local plant and animal names this summer.
  91. At the lunch table ask campers and staff, "Did anyone see any interesting wildlife lately?"
  92. Note the differences in how leaves grow on various tree stems and plant stems. What does alternate and opposite mean?
  93. Set up a tracking station where you leave some food scraps out by some moist sand. Check it out tomorrow morning!
  94. Put up a "bud burst" poster. Keep track of when flowers and tree buds open.
  95. Have a "nature fact for the day."
  96. Put up a blank poster where campers can write up their nature discoveries.
  97. Have a "a hands-on discoveries" table for shells, antlers, fungi, etc.
  98. Make a Mud Pit area.
  99. Go romp and stomp in the swamp.
  100. Play in the sand! Build sand castles, make human and animal footprints, look for sand wildlife and plants, make sand angels.
  101. Cut up and sand a section of a large deceased local tree. Make a time line from the tree rings.
  102. Put up posters about nature from state, national, and local parks and nature centers.
  103. Have nature art work up around camp.
  104. Put up a sundial and a windmill and a water wheel.
  105. Have a festival for the full moon, equinox, and just because.
  106. Give an award to the camper who noticed something awesome in nature.
  107. Wear grass, leaves, and wild flowers in your hat and pockets.

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