ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer Camp For Adults

My dream is to create a living school. One that uses sustainability as not only our lessons, but as a way of life, integrating our guests and students in the living fabric of life. To this end, we will have classes on natural herbs, healing and cultivation of biomes that support a range of biota. As much as the retreat center will continue to be about learning, it will also be designed to be fun. Just as most summer camps, we will have group meals, then break up into sessions focusing on a variety of arts and crafts, woodworking, gardening, the science of ecology and several other areas. My plan is to enlist other teachers as needed to assist in providing a wide variety of lessons that coincide with the aims of reaching all of our guests with an ethos of conservation, efficiency and trust.

Nature, unlike the brutally harsh force that we have been told it is, is here to sustain and support us, just like all of the other creatures. Where problems begin is when we start to take without giving back. Imagine coming for a week-long intensive and being able to learn how become a successful gardener. Perhaps learn how to keep bees, or to run a home aquaponics system. we will have introduction to home power classes, advanced solar thermal classes and window quilt making studios. If you have troubles with urban composting, we can teach tricks on how to close the loop on organic wastes, etc. All of our classes as well as our fun and games will be focused on conservation of natural resources and sustainably enjoying the world around us.

Some of our past students are still creating ecologically sustainable systems around the country. Like dandelion seeds carried on the winds, they have spread the work far and wide. In the learning environment that we create, the skills and insights of all of our participants can be brought to bear on what seems to be an insurmountable problem. Keeping motivated in the face of very difficult challenges will be a large part of what we do, but the daily practices of thrift and conscientious use of what can be found in the immediate environment will be the "meat and potatoes" of our programs. Leadership training will also be an important and integral part of our program as well, since most of us live amongst others, knowing how to encourage them to adopt sustainable practices is important to our sucess in transforming the world around us.

Since adults usually come with extra entanglements, we offer a range of programs that can accommodate families, even extended ones. We finally have available guest rooms for up to four guests with relative privacy. They can be seen at this link. If you just want to come and stay with us, that is fine, but if you would like specialized tours, let us know and we can develop a special ECO-Tour that meets your specific needs. We have canoes, bikes, cross country skis and snowshoes in addition to all of our tree planting equipment.

In any living system, there are chores that must be done, but each chore that we have is part of the larger experience. You may have to take out the compost for example, but you will be treated to garden fresh veggies that come from the earth right beside the compost bin. You may need to take a turn watering the plants in the greenhouse, but you might see them again when you eat your sandwich at lunch. One of the greatest benefits of living sustainably is that the myth of increased leisure begins to unravel. The lines between work and play begin to dissolve and more life seems to take place even during the times that we are actively making our living. This is hard to describe adequately, but becomes evident to ECO-Tourists as they have their experiences unfold.

It came to me yesterday as I taught some neighborhood children about herbs that were growing right in their front yard. We do not need a faraway retreat center and the massive cost of large acreage. where we are right now is perfect for right now. We can grow into the full flower of a larger acreage when we get bigger. Right now, we must do what we can with what we have and grow into the bigger facility when we have more guests. Using what surrounds us and appears to us in abundance is the logical and natural way. The urban center that we live in may seem impossible to re-green, but the years of tree planting that we have done has already transformed the immediate area. The hundreds of thousands of tree seeds that we have picked off the sidewalks and yards have been brought to the headwaters and are beginning their lives as either food for rodents and deer or (if they are really lucky) as sentinels of hope.

Teaching a half dozen children about food growing in their yard turned my eyes to see different things in what surrounds me! Learning how others see the world around them can often be the bridge that allows knowledge to pass between us. Learning to live this way is a two way street. The best teachers realize that our work is not top down, but rather the insights of our students often provide the richest rewards. Students eyes have seen the world in unique ways and their truth and understandings can often lead teachers to understand the world around us better as well.

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