Nurturing Nature

Camp Joy is doing innovative work – through Nurturing Nature, we provide real-life lessons to campers and visitors on how to dispose of waste, manage land, and design the built environment in ways that are in harmony with nature. Camper education is at the heart of all our programs.

In nature, nothing is wasted. Everything is part of a larger, self-healing system. Like each of us, the natural world is perfectly designed just as it is, and that’s a concept we hope to instill in every camper – each of you is perfect just as you are.

For the children we serve, the Camp Joy experience provides a place where, for at least a little while, kids can be… kids, surrounded by other kids just like them in a community of friendship. Our kids leave with more than memories. They leave with relationships – with other kids, with Camp Joy counselors – that last a lifetime.

The Nurturing Nature Program:

  • is a logical extension of the Camp Joy vision to inspire our campers to become better people while instilling a heart for nature and a responsibility to do good in their local communities.
  • is a multi-faceted initiative to reimagine and expand Camp Joy’s relationship to our natural environment that preserves fresh water, clean air, grows healthy food, and supports diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • is designed to leverage Camp Joy’s 317-acre footprint to positively impact our bottom line and the health of our community while expanding our education and training options.
  • is not a theory. It continues to unfold as Camp Joy heads toward net zero everything by 2027 to give back to nature what we take from it.
  • will position Camp Joy to be an innovative leader that can engage the mind, rejuvenate the soul, and connect our visitors to the beauty of the natural processes that surround them.

What you can do to help:

Your support of this initiative will:

  • Feed a pollinator in our growing native perennial gardens

  • Buy a butterfly a drink at a newly installed sipping saucer

  • Strengthen the forest by funding the removal of invasive plants

  • Give a bird a reason to sing as the number of native shrubs increases

  • Buy a bee a room in our Bee Hotels around campus

  • Keep a camper warm through cabin window replacements

  • Lead the way for campers by purchasing signage for trails

Why are we Nurturing Nature?

Camp Joy was founded in 1937 on the unassailable values of opportunity for those in need, inclusion at all costs, and the premise that nature soothes the soul. Our Nurturing Nature program is the acknowledgement that the restorative powers of nature combined with an amazing staff is what makes Camp Joy such a transformative experience for kids.

For the 12,000+ kids and adults we serve each year, living net-zero by nurturing nature and transforming our operating practices to conserve our resources will simply become a signature part of the Camp Joy experience – like bunk beds, ropes courses and s’mores.

Our Nurturing Nature program will save and earn money over time, while also allowing more kids to experience Camp Joy. It will expand our education and training options by providing opportunities to see our environmental progress in real time, and it reinforces – to kids, visitors and us – that, at Camp Joy, we live our mission of helping people grow and succeed through life-long experience-based learning,

Why is this so important?

It’s our priority to maintain the land so it’s always available to the youth we serve.

The healing power of nature increases nurturing capacity, improves self-esteem, expands coping abilities, connects us to something timeless and larger than ourselves, and unleashes creativity. We see it every day at Camp Joy.

Just as surely as Camp Joy’s restorative powers live on long after visitors turn off our gravel road, so too will the beauty of Camp Joy’s natural systems restore and build resilience among those we serve.

The time to teach children the importance of their environment is now because of their potential to affect the future. Our youth are inheriting the world we leave them. If we can encourage them to become engaged citizens in protecting the resources we leave them, then they can cultivate an environment where they will thrive.

“Through our Nurturing Nature program, we are reimagining and expanding that relationship to Mother Earth to benefit the land and those who draw strength from it.”

Our leafy goals:

  • We’ll hit net-zero everything by 2027. That means we will give back to nature exactly what we take from it.

  • We’ll reduce our use of energy overall. Camp Joy will design and operate its buildings to minimize operating costs and take advantage of green building practices afforded by our climate.
  • We will nurture the needs of our 317-acre home by tapping into the perfectly elegant processes that drive the natural world. We will grow our own food, support wildlife and plant diversity, manage invasive species and responsibly harvest our timber.

What we’ve done so far:

  • Planted a new orchard

  • Brought additional fields on line for crops

  • Initiated a timber harvest for on-site building materials

  • Created a 50-year forest management program

  • Converted all Camp Joy lighting to LED (which saves us $10,000 annually)

  • Initiated the phasing out of fuel oil

  • Insulated cabins, and switched to all-electric everything in anticipation of the move to solar energy (this will reduce our operating costs by nearly $35,000 per year)

  • Converted some mowed grass to native prairie, creating an excellent pollinator habitat

In Summary, we:

  • Reduce carbon emissions through every decision we make, big or small

  • Compost or recycle all camp waste

The excitement of learning and growing at Camp Joy all begins with our first connection with you.