Site and Facility Considerations for Reconnecting Children and Nature

Many environmental education centers operate as though they have both “site” (property) AND “facilities” (buildings), viewing them as distinct and separate entities. Most centers have both developed areas and natural areas and may even design their environmental education programs to use these areas independently. This model undoubtedly provides quality environmental education in most places, yet there remains an opportunity for camps and environmental education centers to more effectively utilize their site and facilities to fully embrace environmental stewardship. This presentation provides the perspectives from both a landscape architect and a camp director to this issue, summarizing case studies and suggesting practices and techniques for environmental educators.

Participants will:  (1) learn about the movement to reconnect children and nature and the underlying research and trends that support the movement, (2) discuss how site and facility considerations are a critical dimension of a participant’s connection with the natural world, and (3) understand specific site and facility development and management strategies that can enhance participants’ connections with nature.

Tom Neppl


ACA members $35; Nonmembers $70

Presenter Bio(s)

Tom Neppl is a Landscape Architect and the owner of an environmental design firm that integrates scholarship and research into practice, serving clients with interests in the outdoors and the natural environment. He is an active member of ACA, Great Rivers, and when he’s not designing a camp master plan or conducting a standards visit, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and son (all of whom are former and current summer campers).