All people deserve basic kindness, dignity, and respect. Each program at Green River Preserve begins with a ceremony called the Respect Circle, where we ask each member of our small community to join in a formal agreement. We ask that we learn to treat each other, the natural world, our facilities built from the land, and even ourselves with respect.
Based on this foundation of respect, we hold each other to high standards of ethics and character. We know that mistakes are part of life, and we always seek to use mistakes as opportunities to teach. But we do not tolerate violence. We do not tolerate meanness, pettiness, and gossip. We ask that all of our staff and each camper strive never to tear anyone down, but to build each other up.
As a team, we build a community that is humble, helpful, and dedicated to growth. As individuals, we learn that the world is filled with honest, loyal, and decent people. GRP overflows with such good people.
When we spend all of our time staring at screens, we miss so much of what the world has to offer us. We miss the ephemeral beauty of the seasons. We miss the tiny creatures under our feet and above our heads. We miss the majesty of a dark night and its symphony of sounds. When we spend our lives glued to electronics, we miss the full impact of our actions.
We walk the land, and we listen when it speaks. By living in the open air, by taking daily adventures deep into the woods, and by laughing and playing outside, we reconnect with our deep human past. We get wet and muddy. We sing songs, tell stories, and cook great food by a fire. We learn to focus on what matters. We encounter challenges, we strive and suffer and overcome hard problems. We endure rain and heat. We build shelter. We show kindess, we encourage and support, and we work together.
Our ancestors came to this valley from many homelands. The Paleo-Indians, Cherokee, pioneers and immigrants each built a mixed legacy here, which we seek to uncover and understand. We celebrate their courage, their cultures, and essential humanity. We mourn their ignorance and seek to learn from their mistakes.
When we walk the land, we learn about the world in a way rarely taught in schools. We search for lost caves. We look for mushrooms each color of the rainbow. We lift up rocks in the river and dunk our heads under water. We light a candle deep in an underground cave. We ask lots and lots of questions. We hunt, search, ask, and explore.
Childhood is the first step in a life full of adventures, growth, and changes. Children deserve a place where they can experience the joy of living free of the cares and responsibilities that we must take on later in life. Children deserve an environment where adults of all ages can serve as mentors, guides, and friends, to help them meet life’s early challenges with courage.
When we choose to serve people in this stage of life, we learn many lessons. We learn that people have so much in common. We learn that getting along takes hard work. And most of all, we learn that life should be fun.