In 2014, Blue Star Camps and Camp Judaea, both Green Camps members, launched Conservation Generation, a faith-based water-saving program to encourage their camp communities to use water wisely. Working with GabiH2O, a water conservation company, and Joanne Zygmunt, of Green Camps, the camps integrated Jewish values and tradition with water-saving fun and education.
Camps set out to achieve the following:
Make water conservation fun and relevant at camp
Encourage and enable campers and staff to save water
At Camp Judaea, link environmental stewardship with Israel and Judaism
At Blue Star Camps, leverage rebates to fit water efficiency devices at no cost
Both camps implemented several water-themed activities, games, and competitions, and used a variety of supplemental tools like fun shower timers, motivating behavior change posters, singing toothbrushes, and paintable rain barrels. Campers explored water-saving through the visual arts, creating their own public service announcements (see example below) and art installations. Blue Star Camps also fitted efficient shower heads, faucet aerators, light bulbs, and other upgrades.
Overall, camps saved at least 340,000 gallons of water. Other measured outcomes included the following:
Before camp, 23% of campers always or usually left the water on while brushing their teeth, but after camp this fell to just 15%
35% of campers decreased their showering time
60% of camp counselors and staff decreased their showering time
Over half of parents (54%) said their children’s water conservation knowledge increased as a result of attending camp
And 41% of parents thought they learned a little bit to a lot about water conservation as a result of their children attending camp
Camps also learned that their staff (96%) and camper parents (97%) overwhelmingly agreed that camp was an appropriate place to teach water conservation.
What did the camps learn?
Keep it simple and be specific. There’s a lot in being an environmental steward, and that is overwhelming. So the camps focused on three actions: turn water off when brushing teeth, don’t use the toilet as a trash can, and take shorter showers. It was just enough variety to keep it fun, and simple enough to keep it real.
Make it fun. There’s no limit to what you can do. The camps used Conservation Generation activities, but also layered water onto some of their existing programs and events. Sometimes what you’re already doing just needs a little twist.
Enthusiastic staff are key. Not only did the camps do specific Conservation Generation training, but they also engaged staff in meaningful conversation about water. Their buy-in and support was crucial to making an impact.