April 18, 2024 Category: Our Impact Meet Fresh Air

Earth Day at Camp: Practicing Sustainability and Environmental Awareness

One of the most valuable parts of participating in The Fresh Air Fund programs is spending time outdoors and being in nature. Between splashing around in the crystal-clear lakes and hiking wooded trails, children at camp experience the beauty of the natural world firsthand.  

This Earth Day, we want to celebrate being caretakers of the environment and the ways in which we can all continue to promote sustainability and environmental awareness at Fresh Air Fund camps – and beyond.  

The lake at Sharpe Reservation is the perfect place to go boating on sunny afternoons.

Located in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley, Sharpe Reservation is home to five of our sleepaway camps and covers over 2,000 acres of land. Every summer, thousands of children from New York City have the opportunity to enjoy Sharpe. They take swimming lessons in our two lakes, run across the open fields and learn about animals and harvesting vegetables at the Model Farm. During the school year community groups and local schools benefit from the environmental education programs Sharpe offers.  However, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to maintain this pristine property and ensure its environmental friendliness.  

Sustainability Efforts at Sharpe Reservation 

Sharpe Reservation is home to hundreds of plant and animal species.

Program Coordinator Julian Morgan has worked thoughtfully with the Sharpe team to create and implement a sustainability plan that both protects the health of the land and provides campers with an opportunity to learn more about sustainability. 

“Here at Sharpe, we’re caretakers of the land as well as educators of the natural world,” shared Julian. 

There’s an abundance of wildlife and nature at camp for children to learn about!

One of the greatest sustainability efforts has been the commitment to composting. First implemented by Tim Stanly, the Director of Sharpe Reservation, composting has been a key element at camp for 25 years. 

“At the time, everyone said it couldn’t be done, but Tim was persistent with it,” Julian said. “He gave the initiative the resources necessary for it to thrive and it now serves as a model for other organizations.” 

Children learn about taking care of plants in environmental science classes at Camp Mariah.

At camp, the best way to encourage composting is through a little friendly competition! All five dining halls at Sharpe compete to see which one can compost the most. The winners earn the Golden Earthworm prize for their hard work. 

In addition to composting, the team is working towards electrifying their fleet of cars, reducing single-use products and investing in energy-efficient lighting. 

Connecting with Nature at the Model Farm 

The Model Farm is a great opportunity to meet different animals!

A favorite activity for campers is visiting the Model Farm and learning about different plants and animals. 

“The farm is a fantastic way to give young people an appreciation for sustainability in the natural world because it’s very holistic,” shared Julian. “Being at our farm, having livestock there as well as our garden, you’re able to interact and see firsthand how we get various products that we take for granted.” 

It’s important for children to learn about where their food comes from at camp.

The farm allows campers to observe the life cycle of their food. They learn the answers to questions about where certain fruits and vegetables came from and how they are grown. By having a hands-on experience, children develop a greater understanding of where the food they eat comes from. 

“It’s not just some instantaneous thing; it’s a whole industry. It makes you appreciate where your food comes from just a little bit better,” said Julian. 

Emphasizing Environmental Awareness 

After attending camp, we see increased environmental awareness among children. “You’re able to come out to summer camp and get a beautiful connection to nature” Julian shared. 

A favorite activity is visiting the Model Farm!

Campers grow and learn more about the environment together. As they learn about plants, swim or explore nature trails together, they create a community and are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with friends and family when they return home. 

Even though Earth Day is one day that we take to acknowledge and appreciate the planet we’re on, every day should be a day we take to appreciate the planet we’re on.


Learn more about The Fund’s Sharpe Reservation or sign your child up for camp!