By now, most Ghany girls both young and old, current campers and motherly and grandmotherly and auntie alum, are home for the holidays and settling in for Christmas cheer.
That means it’s time to keep hands busy and hearts light as we celebrate the joy — and meaning — of the season.
This got me to thinking about something on everybody’s minds these days — how much we consume at this time of year, and more troubling, how much we waste.
Of course, presents are a part of the season and we all want to rejoice in those thoughtful, meaningful, and treasured gifts that say to one another, “You’re loved.” and “I care about you.”
As they say, everything in moderation, especially when it’s heartfelt and shared in a spirit of seasonal gratitude!
And that means that wrappings — all the festoons and baubles of the season — are part of the whole picture, too.
And this is awesome.
But at the same time, there is room for improvement in what we use to decorate and no one teaches us this more than the counselors and campers in our own Camp Alleghany Wild World program.
Nature is the first economy
An important part of the Wild World program is taking care of our earth.
We do this in many ways, from relishing in its many natural wonders, to beautifying our surroundings with its gifts and beautifying it with ours (Ie., plantings, design, stewardship, etc.) and in regular maintenance like picking up trash, reducing our usage, reusing whatever we can, and recycling the rest.
When we had soda cans at camp, we always recycled them. We also make an effort to reuse and recycle cardboard at camp.
And our facilities management team, under Garrett O’Dell’s leadership, has been magnificent in re-using things like the old swim docks first as a stage and then as canoe docks. See our blog about this.
And here’s something really fun: often the Camp Alleghany Alumni Association will take materials from things that are being torn down or refurbished and replaced (Ie. old Rifle stalls, old Play Hall porch, old tent poles) and volunteers will craft “new” items to sell as a fundraiser — making things like benches, picture frames, etc.
And we definitely use the natural world for art — one of our favorite things to do at camp is paint rocks!
So call it up cycling, re-purposing, preserving history or just plain keeping that awesome weathered wood that everyone loves, but we want to minimize our impact wherever we can.
Bringing Wild World home for Christmas
So this brings me to the Christmas, the season of plenty, and a good old fashioned Ghany Girl call out to consider our precious earth as you indulge in the celebratory season.
Here a re a few ideas for minimizing your footprint with the added bonus of keeping the littlest Ghany Girls busy with things to do while out of school.
First, there’s always the funny papers to wrap presents in. Yes it’s been done to death but for every new generation of kids this is a new experience. So pull out the Sunday paper and then set the kids to work wrapping (or learning to wrap) using what’s on hand.
Or, you can make vegetable stamps (or use stamps on hand) and decorate regular newspaper or make ornaments (this look is quite popular right now) or plain paper, in a sense, making your own wrapping paper — very DIY. See this easy tutorial to learn how.
You can also:
- Send the kids on a nature hunt for items from Mother Earth to decorate packages — pine cones, berries, dried flowers, etc. — putting the emphasis on natural rather than store bought decor that’s manufactured 12,000 miles away!
- Get the kids to brainstorm other packaging ideas besides paper and see what they come up with. Let them be creative and don’t hold on too tightly to aesthetic control — this will make them both imaginative thinkers and good little stewards of the planet!
- Get the adults to brainstorm other ideas for packaging such as for wine, spirits, or other adult gifts, like cooking items. Have a “green” contest with the kids.
- Make ornaments, cards, and paper chains from all kinds of recycled materials, especially brown paper bags, newspaper, and paper scraps.
- Make a Christmas re-use/recycling plan that creates “bins” for reusable items like bags, bows, ribbons, and present toppers to live.
- Assign some little one to run your “Wild World Christmas”: she’ll be the sorter, that lovable nag who reminds everyone to put the bags, bows, ribbons, and toppers (among other things) into the sorting bins while the presents are being opened.
- Store your reusable items for next year and then revive the program when wrapping happens again next year. You’ll save money, learn just how far resources can go, and teach your children well!
Of course, this should all be done in a loving and easy spirit — enjoy yourselves, but find a way to bring a little bit of Wild World into your hearts and homes, too!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls