“Seek the Joy of Being Alive.” This instruction at the end of our four core principles, our Woodcraft Laws, has rung true for campers since Green River Preserve was founded. Each moment at GRP is built around this sense of joy, respect, and wonder for the life around us. These experiences at camp allow us to grow into our best selves.
Each of the four Woodcraft Laws of Truth, Love, Beauty, and Fortitude provide foundations for our community of shared values at GRP. As an organization, our mission is “to nurture environmental stewards through a joyful connection to nature.” To fulfill this mission as a camp community, we need shared guiding principles and rituals, such as our morning and evening songs, hikes, games, Council Fires, and the Woodcraft Laws.
When founder Sandy Schenck envisioned Green River Preserve, he borrowed and adapted many traditions from camping, including an adapted version of the Woodcraft Laws originally written by Ernest Thompson Seton. These have been read at every one of GRP’s Upper Council Fires, when we assemble by the fire under the great trees for ceremony, music, and stories.
This year, we took the substantial step of revising the Woodcraft Laws to better represent the values we share at Green River Preserve. Changing core traditions to strengthen our values is simultaneously challenging and essential. We want to make sure that the values we teach represent those that we share as a community. Green River Preserve’s revised Woodcraft Laws deepen the values we hope to convey to all those who visit Green River, as they seek Beauty, Truth, Fortitude, and Love.
Green River Preserve’s Woodcraft Laws
Celebrate wonder. Appreciate all that exists in yourself and everything around you. Nurture yourself. Extend compassion for self and others. Protect all living things. Share in our collective responsibility to conserve the natural world.
Be honest. Build trust in yourself and the world around you. Play fair. Let integrity be your compass. Stay curious. Seek the truth about the universe and its inhabitants.
Be brave. Support others when you are strong, and ask for support when you are challenged. Live respectfully. Show deference to those with life experiences unlike your own. Be humble. Acknowledge that the greatest and smallest among us have wisdom to share.
Be Kind. Show generosity to yourself and others. Be helpful. Do your share of the work. Be joyful. Seek the joy of being alive.
Campers and staff have been working to paint new representations of our Woodcraft Laws to hang in the Lodge, and we are excited to share them with new generations of campers. We hope that in our continued growth as an organization, camp, and community, we can help all “Seek the Joy of Being Alive.”
Story by Chris Paul with photos by Brandon S. Marshall & Samantha Keebler