Thanks to Explorers Camp, you can now find rain barrels around Shrine Mont: There's one in the garden next to the Virginia house (the main hotel), another down the hill from Tucker dining hall, and a third next to the equipment shed near the Rectory.
Lorne Field, the environmental outreach coordinator for Chesterfield County and former Shrine Mont counselor and camper, came to teach Explorers about nature conservation and rain barrels.
Rain barrels are used to conserve and reuse rainwater; the water they collect will be used to water Shrine Mont's gardens. The barrels also prevent water from flowing over paved surfaces and other places dirtied by development, picking up pollutants, and then flowing into local streams and eventually rivers. In short, they will help keep Shrine Mont and the Shenandoah Valley healthy and beautiful.
Field taught and supervised, but it was Explorers that put in the work to make and install the rain barrels. They set spigots on the bottom of the barrels - a process that involved one brave camper climbing inside the barrel in order to caulk the spigot into place. They installed netting to keep bugs from laying eggs in the water. Once the barrels were ready, campers worked to replace the aluminum drain spouts running down the side of buildings with a plastic, flexible spout that could be attached to the rain barrel.
This was all very technical work, but with a far-reaching objective. Olivia Bambara, an Explorers counselor, said, "We were trying to teach the kids about respecting and enjoying nature ... [about] looking at the beauty of nature through the lens of God ... and really appreciating the complexity and wonder of creation." These rain barrels allowed Explorers a very tangible way to participate in the stewardship of creation, and to play a part in protecting the Shenandoah Valley for future generations.
The great hope of Shrine Mont Camps is to teach campers - and counselors, too - to serve God better back in the Valley of the World. To love and to be good to your neighbor even if he's not always good to you. To do your part to treat God's creation with respect, even in the face of so much disrespect - country-sized flotillas of garbage and oil spills. It's projects like the rain barrels that illustrate to camp how what's done at camp is inextricably linked to the Valley of the World. We pray that Explorers' good work will go even beyond keeping the Shenandoah River clean and Shrine Mont beautiful. Hopefully, the time at camp has planted a seed in every camper to "go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord." And to that we can all say, "Hallelujah."
By Ed Keithly
Photo credit: Alex Palin
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.