Green River Preserve’s logo is a triangle shaped design with drawings of an open book, trees, the river and a mountain top. The design of the logo translates “teaching young people to read the mountains, the river, and the forest.”
Green River Preserve is a place built on tradition and respect. Each camp session opens with the Respect Circle led by Anne and Steve. All campers are given the opportunity to agree to “respect themselves, respect each other, and respect all living things” while they are part of the Green River Preserve community. The Respect Circle sets the stage for a NO DISCOUNT ZONE community for the campers. It provides campers with a safety net while they are at camp. At GRP there are “no put downs,” only “put ups.” Campers are allowed to be “Their best me at GRP.”
In 2003 camper Addison Willis of Sewanee, Tennessee, wrote a letter to Missy and Sandy after he attended summer camp. In the letter he shared with them that “Green River Preserve is where I am my best self.” For the summer of 2011, the idea for adopting Addison’s slogan as a theme for Green River Preserve was proposed. Jane Izard designed the first My Best Me t-shirt and slogan. It truly captures the spirit of what so many campers tell us about their GRP experience.
Secret Place is a tradition that was taken from The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. Little Tree is a Native American boy who is orphaned and raised by his grandparents in a one room mountain cabin with no electricity or running water. His grandparents teach him the ways of the forest and land. Little Tree’s grandfather encourages his grandson to find a “secret place” for reflecting on life’s situations, to think, and to connect with nature. Counselors and mentors use the Secret Place idea as a venue for cabin meetings of celebration or to discuss cabin issues and problems. Staff and Campers recognize a Secret Place meeting as one of respect.
Rose, Bud, Thorns serves as GRP’s version of bedtime “vespers.” It allows campers to individually share their day at camp with their cabin family. A camper’s rose is the highlight of their day, their bud is what they are looking forward to for the next day, and their thorn is the part of the day that was not the best.
The Woodcraft Laws provide a moral compass and basis for a code of living at Green River Preserve. Written by Ernest Thompson Seaton, of the Boy Scouts of America, Sandy saw them at Camp Agawam in Maine when he was traveling around looking at camps in 1987. He liked them so much that he decided to incorporate them into the philosophy of Green River Preserve’s summer camp. All GRP campers have a connection with the Woodcraft Laws and the importance they play in their camp experience.
When the idea for a summer camp at Green River Preserve was hatched, Sandy shared his vision with his father’s dearest, oldest friend, Isadore Scott. “Scotty” sent Chief Seattle’s letter to Sandy for inspiration in planning the camp. The letter meant so much to Sandy that he decided to use it as the opening oration for all Upper Council Fires during camp.
Each camp session begins and ends with an Upper Council Fire. Several traditions include Chief Seattle’s Letter, The Woodcraft Laws, and Spirit Stones are part of the Upper Council Fire. Staff members and campers are encouraged to participate in these events with readings, songs, and stories.
Twenty-nine years of GRP Spirit Stones decorate the hillside by the Upper Council Fire. During a camp session, campers find a rock or stone that means something to them and paint it with permanent decorative paints. At the closing Upper Council Fire, campers place their stones around the campfire. Spirit Stones are a representation of a camper’s spirit and the ability to leave a part of themselves at camp.
Ortman and Scrappy came to life at GRP during the summer of 1992 through mentors Bob Davis and Nate Johnson. Ortman is a super hero who came from the planet Compost along with his sidekick, Scrappy. The dynamic duo were forced to leave their homeland, Compost, which biodegraded and were sent to Earth to fight the ORT wars forever more.
One way sustainability is practiced at GRP is by teaching children about ORT; organic recyclable trash, or leftover food on your plate. Each night at dinner, Ort Man and Scappy fly in from outer space and measure the Ort in a fun and entertaining skit. The campers love them! If Ort is controlled and there is very little, campers are in COOLSVILLE – if not, campers are in DANGER ZONE!!!! The good compost/Ort (anything that does not have a mother) is put into the garden compost for the farm and the sad compost/Ort is put into the bucket for the pigs. It is all recycled and teaches the children about sustainability.
Dr. Dodo is GRP’s resident wacky Ornithologist. Created in 2004 by mentor, West Willmore, Dr. Dodo and his talking parrot sidekick, Mr. Bojangles, visit after breakfast with the Bird of the Day. Birds native to our area are shared with creative and fun skits. Campers are encouraged to find the bird on their morning mentor hike.
The Clean Cabin Fairy came to life at GRP through CIT , William Young in the summer of 2002. At the time, CITs were responsible for reporting the daily cabin inspections. William felt the presentation of the reports lacked imagination and creativity. He surprised the entire camp one day when he appeared with his report dressed in a pink tutu, blonde wig, tiara, and wand. In that moment, The GRP Clean Cabin Fairy was born and cleaning a cabin at GRP was never the same. Counselors on duty have great fun creatively bringing the Cabin Fairy to life each summer. Ben Mosteller, a GRP counselor, wrote a cabin inspection song jingle to introduce the Clean Cabin Fairy: “Cabin inspection is the best, you can clean better than the rest…” Cabin groups take turns finishing the song with a second line.
Word of the Day was created in the early days of GRP as a morning skit and exercise following breakfast. Staff would take an interesting word and make a correct and incorrect definition of it by acting it out in a skit. Campers are encouraged to use the word throughout the day.
The Grand Slam is an all camp favorite. During a camp session a Grand Slam is attained when a deer, a bear, a wild turkey, and a venomous snake are spotted by a camper or staff member and witnessed by either another camper or staff member. When all animals are found during a camp session, a Grand Slam Celebration is planned. Following the ice cream celebration, there is a fireworks display.
When available, Grand Slam t-shirts will be for sale in the camp store.
Win-de-ah-ho is a Cherokee morning song used as the GRP breakfast blessing. Campers face the East to welcome the morning sun when the breakfast blessing is sung.
“Win-de-ah-ho Win-de-ah-ho Win-de-ah, win-de-ah Yo-ho, yo-ho Hey-a-ho, Hey-a-ho Ya,ya, ya.”
The lunch time blessing is a GRP rendition of the Johnny Appleseed song. Often at lunch other blessings such as “This Glorious Food” are sung.
“Oh! The Earth is good to me And so I thank the Lord/earth For giving me the things I need The sun and the rain and the GRP! The Lord/earth is good to me. Ah-ho!”
This Glorious Food
“Thank you for this food, this food This Glorious, glorious food And the animals and the vegetables And the minerals that made it possible.”
Dinner blessings are a variety of readings by staff and campers as camp blessing songs.
“Sisters Brothers” is sung at the conclusion of the evening program. It may also be sung in rounds.
“Sisters, brothers let me tell you How I am feeling; You have given me such treasures I love you so.”