Environmental Stewardship Commission
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Children's Environmental Day Camp
August 7 to 9, 2001

A Children's Environmental Day Camp for children 4 to 10 years of age was held August 7-9, 2001 at the Kawishiwi River National Forest Campground on Minnesota Highway 1 south and east of Ely.  The children were accompanied by a parent/adult.

The camp ran from 10 AM to 3 PM each day under the direction of the Rev. Margaret W. Thomas, St. Edward the Confessor, Duluth, and Mary Groeninger, St. Mary's, Ely.  This was the first of a new program of activities based out of St. Mary's, Ely, and the Commission hopes to conduct more programs there in the future.

Commentary on the Camp
The Rev. Margaret W. Thomas

Children can learn respectful care and Stewardship for Godís entire planet.   It is possible for childrenís activities be richly nurturing at home; but theologian Sallie Mc Fague hopes that Christians and our institutions will strive toward developing strong experiential nurturing relationships between children and all forms of Godís Creation.  Some ways of establishing and nurturing those relationships may be available on the church property itself.  Outdoor play and discussion, regular clean up or gardening on the grounds can bond children to the soil, the fauna and flora, the weather, and the wider neighborhood community.   Insightful observance could lead to ongoing garden projects of flowers, pumpkin patches, meditation gardens, and enhanced play areas. Also possible are real vegetable gardens where food could be planted, tilled and harvested in celebration of Rogation activities. Even a parish feed or a community sharing meal could be managed.

Other programming could allow for critter care of whomever also inhabits the parish space on Earth.  In limited areas local public parks could be incorporated.  A recent experiment with park uses occurred last August at St. Maryís mission in Ely. Volunteer elders from the Environmental Stewardship Commission visited with activities which were highly experiential and low cost. A local national park, South Kawishiwi River, just fifteen minutes from the church, was the site for a week of day Camp. Neighboring local children were recruited.  Supplies were minimal, all natural, and barely left a trace was left following the camp.

 Each Creation Camp day began while hiking through different portions of the area, viewing and discussing, weather included
One day The Water Woman, Nan Stokes, walked and talked the campers through and around the watershed concept.
Another day, The Minnow Man, Nelson Thomas, helped children seine small fish which were caught and released after, sensing and identification.
The Rev. Roger Weaver, Story Man, captured young interests with themes of animals and their interrelated communities.
The Rev Margaret Warren Thomas told Creation stories from Genesis in the Bible and Native American (Huron) tales, finding parallels and connections with the day activities.
The Crafty Women Kathy Weaver and Mary Groeninger taught children to fashion mobiles from natural items found while hiking.  An amazing wild storm had twisted down a young birch tree so that fresh sticks were utilized in the spirit of thankfulness.   Bag lunches and lots of swimming graced the hot weather days.  An eagle soared high over on the last day, giving a sense of joy and peace with awareness that campers were much closer in relationship to their area than even the locals had imagined to be possible.

Caduuto, Michael J., and Joseph Bruhac, Keepers of the Earth, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, California
ibid., Keepers of the Animals, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, California
ibid., Keepers of Life, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, California
McFague, Sallie,  Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature,  Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1997.

2002 Children's Environmental Day Camp

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Please send an e-mail to our Webminister, any member of the MEESC, or write to:
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Box 65
Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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