Green in More Than Name Only

Every magazine under the sun has published a “Green” issue. Let’s hope that all those magazines are getting recycled. Through the years Gwynn Valley has been quietly moving in this direction. I say quietly because we’ve really not promoted our movement in lessening our environmental impact of running a camp.

As I began to think about our journey into “Green”, I spoke with Dale Robertson who has been a part of that journey and has been an advocate of sustainability here at camp. Those of you that don’t know Dale may just see him on opening and closing day directing traffic and directing his staff in getting you in and out of camp in a way that allows you to focus on your children. Dale is our site manager and has been at Gwynn Valley for over 30 years. Following are some of things that Gwynn Valley has been doing over the past 5 to 10 years under Dale’s leadership:

  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and metal for 10 years
  • Using high efficiency lighting in over half our cabins, which are run from batteries for over 10 years
  • Installing water-saver shower heads that use only 2 gallons per minute, saving up to 40% in water and heated water usage. We also have water saver toilets in most of our cabins and bathrooms
  • Using compact fluorescent lights throughout our program for over 5 years
  • Growing approximately 70% of our food and raising our own beef, thereby lessening our carbon footprint by eliminating food transportation from farm to table by wholesalers and purveyors (homegrown food also tastes better).
  • Heating 70% of the camp’s hot water with wood that is down or dead on the property. 15% of that wood goes into building projects (cabin siding, roofing, etc.)
  • Composting our uncooked kitchen waste
  • Powering the Mill with water which grinds our corn into grits and cornmeal and also churns the ice cream freezers for Tajar Ball and other special times
  • Utilizing our web site as a means by which to access camper applications, staff applications and parent handbooks which save paper.

The more I speak with other camp directors the more I realized how progressive we really are. It’s been a conscious effort to make Gwynn Valley a place that really has a strong connection to the values of the land and to educate our campers to that end. We’re a business that uses a lot of resources and has a lot of impact but there are always ways to improve and make our system better. Looking ahead we’ve focused on some long range and short range projects that will keep us attuned to our commitment to the environment and more importantly our commitment to a better world for our children and their children.

Future Projects

  • Erect a windmill to pump water to the farm
  • Use more environmentally safe cleaning products
  • Use more environmentally friendly composting of kitchen waste
  • Replace plastic dinner ware with recyclable dinner ware
  • Build a Pelton Water Wheel to power all of camp (this is a long range project that was first looked at in the late 80’s – we’ve already got the plan)
  • Use solar panels on roofs that get enough direct sun to heat water
  • Green design future facilities and buildings
  • Move toward more on-line correspondence and registration forms with families to save paper

Many of these things you can do at home and hope you will begin that journey toward a Greener existence. If you have ideas that you would like to share with us please feel free to get in touch. We look forward keeping Gwynn Valley a great model for sustainability.