Green Lake Conservancy

enjoying waters of Green Lake
Photograph by Austin Wallenfang

Over the past 20 years, the Green Lake Conservancy has been building a legacy of stewardship by working to “preserve the lands that protect the lake” and promote public conscientiousness when it comes to our beloved body of water. While many picturesque trails and native prairies have been established and restored by the Conservancy, the members also recognize the tremendous need to actively encourage a sense of stewardship amongst our youth. And what better way to get kids to fall in love with nature than by getting them out there and allowing Mother Nature to work her magic.

In July 2016, the Conservancy piloted our first-ever youth camps for children ages 7 through 11. Two three-day/two-night camps were held at the Green Lake Conference Center campground, where we were surrounded by several of the Conservancy’s trails. In this beautiful setting, our youth campers were presented with a simple, yet powerful, opportunity to connect with nature and learn by doing.

While numerous nature-based activities were scheduled for our campers, we made sure to allow the magic of summer to seep into every possible moment. We couldn’t have possibly planned for thousands of fireflies to light up the night or to spot a doe and her fawn foraging in a glowing field. We couldn’t have coordinated with the birds to sing to us on cue or for a fish to jump the moment we looked across Norwegian Bay. And while we did plan a camp session during the Full Beaver Moon, we couldn’t have planned a cloudless night so that our awestruck campers felt compelled to howl at it. By allowing the time and space for our campers to just be in nature, nature came through and allowed us to experience all of her magic. And that magic is the seed that fosters the love and respect for lands and waters.

Photograph by Austin Wallenfang

It’s probably safe to say that people only truly care about what they feel connected to. And in a world of technology, the masses are slipping further and further away from the notion that our very lives depend on the health of our planet, much less that it is our inherent responsibility to care for it. So, by creating this opportunity to connect kids with nature, we are able to inspire environmental conscientiousness and empower the next generation as guardians of the lake, the land, and all Earth’s creatures.

We are looking forward to making camp an annual tradition and welcoming an ever-growing number of youngsters to come and enjoy the wonders of nature we have right here in Green Lake. We welcome you to help us celebrate this joyous occasion for our community as we brighten our future by encouraging our youth as leaders of stewardship and sustainability.

Do you know children in need of a remedy for “nature deficit disorder” (a la Richard Louv)? Contact the Green Lake Conservancy for information on future camps and how you can help make camp possible for even more children.

Lindsie Wallenfang is a Green Lake Conservancy board member who develops and facilitates
the Conservancy’s youth camps.