Climate Camp 2019

We’ve just completed another Climate Camp season, and it was a doozy! I’m happy to report we tried out some new features that were quite successful. Our mission is to continue to revise our programming to meet the needs of our campers, who range in age from 6 on up to 18.

We are fortunate to work with extraordinary partners, who help make our Climate Camp experience rich and deep and fun. When you address the climate crisis with kids, it’s important to include art and advocacy along with the science, so we can match the urgency of climate change with actions that feel significant enough to avoid the hopelessness so often experienced otherwise.

Our camps are based at The Peace Learning Center in Eagle Creek Park, so we in the middle of nature. We hire professional teachers who help ground our work in established curriculum. We rely on partners like The Nature Conservancy, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indy Urban Acres, Dr. Brian Plankis, White Pine Wilderness Academy and many others.

Our Climate Camp meals are always vegan, and while we sometimes fix our own lunches (thanks to produce grown at Indy Urban Acres), we rely on two businesses to bring our campers delicious vegan meals: Vegesaurus and Mrs. Murry’s Naturals.

This year, we had theme-oriented camp weeks. Week One was animals; Week Two was food justice. We focused on those general issues, while leaving wiggle room for campers’ other passions to emerge.

Now on to the report!

For the first time, we included a daily Yoga practice. As the stresses of life impact our brain, self-care tactics like Yoga are very important. Yoga gave us the opportunity to start our day with stretching, breath-awareness, and calm.

For the first time, we included a daily Yoga practice. As the stresses of life impact our brain, self-care tactics like Yoga are very important. Yoga gave us the opportunity to start our day with stretching, breath-awareness, and calm.

Climate Camp invites experts in to speak to our campers about pertinent issues. In the back row, just right of center (the woman in the glasses), is Emily Hopkins, reporter for the Indianapolis Star, whose story on the Indianapolis 500 balloon release, captured our attention. She came to camp to describe her story and share her thoughts. Some of our campers are considering a career in journalism, so that was an added plus!

Climate Camp invites experts in to speak to our campers about pertinent issues. In the back row, just right of center (the woman in the glasses), is Emily Hopkins, reporter for the Indianapolis Star, whose story on the Indianapolis 500 balloon release, captured our attention. She came to camp to describe her story and share her thoughts. Some of our campers are considering a career in journalism, so that was an added plus!

Just left of center, the man in the white shirt is Eric Halverson, from Kroger. We invited Eric in to talk to the campers about how Kroger is phasing out plastic bags altogether. Given the harm plastic bags do to the environment, we were grateful to have him explain how a corporation is becoming a better steward.

Just left of center, the man in the white shirt is Eric Halverson, from Kroger. We invited Eric in to talk to the campers about how Kroger is phasing out plastic bags altogether. Given the harm plastic bags do to the environment, we were grateful to have him explain how a corporation is becoming a better steward.

Climate Camp is about having fun, too! Week One, one of our youth counselors, Alli, brought a half dozen hammocks to share. The kids loved it! Hammocks are now part of our Climate Camp curriculum!

Climate Camp is about having fun, too! Week One, one of our youth counselors, Alli, brought a half dozen hammocks to share. The kids loved it! Hammocks are now part of our Climate Camp curriculum!

For the first time, we decided we’d simply spend a day in nature. Eagle Creek Park, where the PLC is located, has lots of that! So here are the Week One campers, enjoying a creek. It was a great day of getting wet and dirty, while appreciating the natural world.

For the first time, we decided we’d simply spend a day in nature. Eagle Creek Park, where the PLC is located, has lots of that! So here are the Week One campers, enjoying a creek. It was a great day of getting wet and dirty, while appreciating the natural world.

While at the creek, we took the opportunity to use the Hoosier Riverwatch citizen science unit to test the water quality of the creek our campers were enjoying. The results of the test were within normal parameters.

While at the creek, we took the opportunity to use the Hoosier Riverwatch citizen science unit to test the water quality of the creek our campers were enjoying. The results of the test were within normal parameters.

Our campers LOVE White Pine Wilderness Camp. We were fortunate to find a day when White Pine was open to us — they have their own camps, so that was a lucky break for us. We learned all about animal habitats and behaviors, and were able to spend time by the White River as well.

Our campers LOVE White Pine Wilderness Camp. We were fortunate to find a day when White Pine was open to us — they have their own camps, so that was a lucky break for us. We learned all about animal habitats and behaviors, and were able to spend time by the White River as well.

Both weeks we did a ceremony called Council of All Beings. This is an activity that engages the brain and the heart, by combining science, art and advocacy. Campers picked a favorite animals, researched the impact of human activity upon it, then spent time making a mask of that animal so that they could “become” it. In the ceremony, these animals describe who they are, what they do, and what they are afraid of. It is a powerful, even sacred, experience.

Both weeks we did a ceremony called Council of All Beings. This is an activity that engages the brain and the heart, by combining science, art and advocacy. Campers picked a favorite animals, researched the impact of human activity upon it, then spent time making a mask of that animal so that they could “become” it. In the ceremony, these animals describe who they are, what they do, and what they are afraid of. It is a powerful, even sacred, experience.

As you can see, the artwork can range from traditional masks one wears over their face, to a more puppet-like construction, using sticks.

As you can see, the artwork can range from traditional masks one wears over their face, to a more puppet-like construction, using sticks.

As part of our food justice theme, Week Two, we experienced Climate Camp’s first ever out of town field trip, to Morristown to visit Dugger Family Farm. Campers learned all about co-ops, women- and family-owned small farms, and they enjoyed seeing the rescue animals Dugger Family Farm cares for.

As part of our food justice theme, Week Two, we experienced Climate Camp’s first ever out of town field trip, to Morristown to visit Dugger Family Farm. Campers learned all about co-ops, women- and family-owned small farms, and they enjoyed seeing the rescue animals Dugger Family Farm cares for.

For the first time, we did a Hunger Banquet-style lunch, where arbitrarily, some campers got very little food while others got a LOT of food. We did not warn them this was happening, it was a difficult lunch for some of the campers as this activity highlights the food insecurity many people experience. Of course, we are fortunate to have enough food that everyone had a nice meal, but it was a great lesson in equity and empathy.

For the first time, we did a Hunger Banquet-style lunch, where arbitrarily, some campers got very little food while others got a LOT of food. We did not warn them this was happening, it was a difficult lunch for some of the campers as this activity highlights the food insecurity many people experience. Of course, we are fortunate to have enough food that everyone had a nice meal, but it was a great lesson in equity and empathy.

There is so much more to share, but I’ll close there, other than to say THANK YOU to the funders who made this camp possible: Summer Youth Program Fund, Indianapolis Foundation and National Farmers Union.

Andy Fry