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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Camps care for creation

You might be surprised at the many ways ELCA camps and outdoor ministries not only bring campers of all ages closer to creation but also help them care for God’s world. Here’s just a sampling of their efforts, thanks to Lutherans Restoring Creation, which helped gather these stories.   

Teaching sustainability  

Sustainable living can be a fairly abstract concept for adults, let alone first-graders. YetWaypost Camp in Hatley, Wis., has found a way to help even the very young understand and explain this concept through practical activities.

Every morning after breakfast, campers enjoy an activity such as baking bread (they make 95 percent of the bread at the camp, from breadsticks and pretzels to hamburger buns), composting, recycling, aquaponics or gardening.

Waypost director Sara Damrow said campers of all ages are “excited to make their own bread … plant, tend and harvest their own food in the garden … share food with other communities [and] take care of the camp by recycling what we use, and creating soil for our garden with compostable food waste.”

Lutherlyn’s Terra Dei 

It begins like the story of the three little pigs.

In 1995, Camp Lutherlyn in Prospect, Pa., built a house out of straw on its property. But far from falling apart, Terra Dei Homestead’s straw bale construction has kept the wolf at bay with its excellent insulation (R-40) and efficient heating through a masonry wood-burning stove and passive solar energy from south-facing windows.

Other special “green” features include a composting toilet and gray water recycling system, as well as electricity from solar panels.

Lutherlyn also offers an outdoor classroom and “edible landscaping” that includes heirloom vegetables, raspberries, blueberries, grapes and kiwi fruit. 

Simple steps at Koinonia 

Sometimes simple things mean a lot. Simple steps were what 10 youth from theMetropolitan New York Synod took in 2013 to improve energy efficiency at Koinonia, an ELCA outdoor ministry in Highland Lake, N.Y.

Youth spent two days caulking around the camp’s windows and replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

The caulking involved “a bit of a learning curve,” said Olivia Souza a member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Smithtown, N.Y. But, she added, with these new skills she can now help others reduce air flow and heat loss.

Author bios:

Contributors to this article include Todd Garcia-Bish, director of environmental education at Camp Lutherlyn. Prospect, Pa.; Elizabeth Hunter, a section editor of The Lutheran; and Maggie Hutchison, a freelance writer in Minneapolis.


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