On this past Tuesday we returned to Camp Easter Seals near New Castle, VA for a presentation to the new group of Operation Purple campers. Although the kids, aged 8-17, had been together for less than 24 hours, it was already evident that they were well on their way to establishing a strong sense of community. We expect that this could be attributed in part to the adaptability of these well-traveled kids from military families. But, on the other hand, we have to believe that the energy and leadership of the camp counselors had a lot to do with the camaraderie and fellowship. Bonds seemed to be forming and strengthening before us, almost as if we were witness to some chemical reaction that was melding disparate elements into a coherent, wholly formed compound.
Happily, there is no standardized test for Leave No Trace, and we hope that our presentations are at least helping the audience understand that learning about Leave No Trace requires elemental thinking… basic reflection and critical analysis, since there are seldom any black and white choices in making decisions about our outdoor activities and the impacts that we have. We challenged the Operation Purple kids at Camp Easter Seals to think about the not-so-easy choices that might confront them in the out of doors, and discussed the “rule of thumb” for wildlife viewing and jointly counted out the hundred steps to safely distance our campsite or “cat-hole” from the water (it’s further than most might think). We even got into discussions about impacts on the especially fragile and vulnerable environments of caves. We found Adrian’s enthusiasm and engaging manner to be infectious, and her interview sums up the overall experience at New Castle…
Many thanks go to Alex Barge, camp director and LSU purple-and-gold-blooded Tiger alum, for welcoming us to Camp Easter Seals, and to Camp Easter Seals coordinator, Sarah Hutchinson, for setting up the Leave No Trace e-Tour visits.
Hope to see you on our nomadic trek,
Peggy and Barrett
e-word: elephant (there are some things we’ll never forget…)