If I had not taken a risk three years ago to apply to work as a Camp Counselor at Fiver Children’s Foundation’s Summer Residential Learning Program, I would not be working with Fiver today as the Environmental Awareness Fellow for Future Leaders in Action.
With this opportunity, I have been able to continue to impact the lives of roughly 450 youth from New York City and from Central New York, as well as some participants from around the world.
Taking on my new role as a fellow for FLIA allowed me to impact the youth participants in a different way than I had in the past through a focus of promoting environmental sustainability. Through the curriculum I created, developed, and facilitated for Camp Fiver’s Environmental Education program this summer, Fiver youth had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of what it means to be an environmentalist, which is a fundamental component of Fiver's overarching character development program.
Although gardening classes had been offered as part of Camp Fiver’s Environmental Education program in the past, there was no streamlined curricula and consistent class facilitation plans in place. This summer, I created an extensive curriculum for the gardening classes and facilitated gardening classes for about 150 Fivers ranging in age from 8 to 18.
Garden & Nutrition
Youth explored and learned about a new environment, discovered where nutrition comes from in the garden, harvested fresh produce from the garden to be used in the Camp Fiver kitchen, and learned about the biological components of plants in the garden.
A favorite activity of mine was making garden smoothies, where the Fivers took a risk and tried smoothies made from a variety of vegetables of their choice from the garden. Although there were hesitations, all the youth participants discovered that even if a smoothie has vegetables in it, it can still taste good and provide high nutrition for healthy lifestyles.
Youth participants also learned about composting, how to be advocates for composting and ways to practice composting at Camp Fiver as well as back home.Lastly, Fivers learned alternative ways to use fresh produce from the garden such as creating homemade soaps and sugar scrubs with fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Camping is another major component of Camp Fiver’s Environmental Education program that I was responsible for developing and facilitating this summer.
For many of the youth participants at Fiver, the opportunity to camp-out is a once-a-year experience.
The on-site camping program that I facilitated provided the opportunity for the youth participants ages 8 to 13 to step out of their comfort zones by spending time in an unfamiliar environment. This allowed the youth participants to gain an understanding of the importance of respecting the environment by leaving no trace and recognize the impact their actions have on the environment. Lastly, all the youth participants who had the opportunity to campout this summer under the stars bonded with their fellow participants and Camp Fiver and built lasting memories.
Organizations that support youth programs similar to Camp Fiver’s Environmental Education program are crucial to society. They help future generations understand the importance of environmental sustainability and what it means to be stewards of the environment. I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my passion for the environment by being a fellow this summer and positively impacting youth through creating, developing, and facilitating these programs for Camp Fiver.