Sunday Meeting: Environmental Awareness

“Make the world a better place because you have been in it.”

Camp Arcadia has been nurturing a keen and respectful awareness of the environment in its campers for more than 100 years. So it is fitting for us to recognize Earth Day, April 22, and to briefly discuss what has become a popular movement to conserve and preserve our natural world.rainbow of camp arcadia

My mother, Anne Henderson Fritts, recalls the early stages of the organized movement:

“With the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s Silent Springs, an environmental awareness movement swept the United States. Camps all over took a harder look at how they could aid in the preservation of the natural world.

When I was a camper at Arcadia, we had Sunday afternoon Arcadia Beach Club when everyone would go to the lake and wash their hair and themselves in the lake. New knowledge in the second part of the twentieth century led us to stop this practice, to protect our lake. Likewise we learned that oil and gas from motor boats polluted our lake and we sadly stopped water-skiing. In the 1970’s to 2000 we trained our campers in how to preserve our environment on our canoe and hiking trips. ‘No trace left behind’ became our motto. We have continued to adapt and change at Camp, and teach campers about conservation. We have extended our trip program to new wilderness areas in Maine and New Hampshire. We started composting with just a few campers and now every camper at Arcadia composts while she is at Arcadia. We have re-started our own garden in which we use the compost. We use some of the harvest from the garden in our program ‘Dirt to Dessert,’ where the children compost, harvest and then cook outside. We no longer use paper plates or plastic cups when we eat outside, and we recycle from every cabin.”

campers and counselors weeding garden at Camp ArcadiaAt our 100th Anniversary Celebration last August, almost 100% of all plates, silverware and cups used were compostable and recyclable. In fact, we composted 960 gallons of waste.

This year we have engaged in a 30 year program to care for our forest. We have partnered with Prentiss & Carlisle (based out of Bangor) to develop and every five years execute a forestry management plan to make sure our trees are healthy and thriving.

Through unique programming and a deeply imbued sense of responsibility to the earth that is in our DNA, Arcadians are taught how to thrive by living in harmony with the world around them and as a result, gain basic life-long environmentally aware habits. We have a saying: “Make the world a better place because you have been in it.” We believe that being aware of the importance of preservation and conservation is an important aspect of the girls’ education and experience at camp; these lessons of respect and reverence for our natural world stay with our campers for life.

I have included additional resources on the topic below.

History of Earth Day

What Can I Teach My Young Child About the Environment?

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