The last week in July at St Andrews Camp was Ecology Week. This week the campers learned that God gives His life and love by giving the gift of Creation (the earth and space, stars and planets, living things – plants and animals and people). They enjoyed many aspects of the creation, including kayaking and swimming on Oneida Lake, as well as seeing planets and the Milky Way through telescopes and camping out by the campfire.
They also learned that they are part of God’s creation and are made in the image and likeness of God. God wants us to appreciate and to enjoy His creation, but also wants us to care for creation. However, many of us don’t. The campers learned that when we abuse and hurt creation (the environment and everything in it as well each other) we hurt ourselves and others. We show that we don’t care about the gifts God gives us — we reject God. If we love God we will love his creation and all His creatures and use it in ways that God would bless. We should treat God’s creation the way He wants us to, and try to fix the things that we and others have harmed.
They learned that one of the ways to care for the environment is to practice the 6 R’s of sustainability: 1. Rethink/Reinvent, 2. Refuse, 3. Reduce, 4. Reuse, 5. Recycle/Rot, 6. Replace/Rebuy.
This wasn’t just theory for the children, but they put these ideas into practice by using scrap lumber to build wooden planters, recycling some old potting soil mixed with compost and other ingredients to fill the boxes, and rescuing some “extra” and “volunteer” plants, both to beautify and possibly provide some food for the camp, and to take home. They visited a family who have lived “off the grid” for many years in the Shawanagunk Nature Preserve that they established, and saw how it is possible to live with minimal impact on the earth. They recycled soda bottles into small planters to take home, and made journals from cereal boxes. They made a mural of the many things in God’s creation that the church blesses.
The children also spent a lot of time in church, with daily Matins and Vespers and a Liturgy with Vladyka Michael, giving them lots of opportunity to practice singing and chanting. Vladyka also answered their many questions, gave inspiring sermons, blessed the herbs and vegetables the camper planted and just “hung out” with them. In addition, they participated in daily religious education. This year’s theme is The Saints with this week’s theme being Contemporary Saints taught by Fr Martin Kraus.