Conservation & Advocacy

Dad and son are cleaning up the beach. Natural education of children

Week 6

Welcome back, campers! Here we are on our final week of Kids’ Camp. We hope you have enjoyed learning about the wildness that is just outside your door as you have become more independent, more knowledgeable, and more enthusiastic explorers.

This week we want to focus on the health of our planet, which desperately needs our help! Climate change is negatively impacting our ecosystem and our society, and we need to act quickly to help protect wildlife and human habitats from rising temperatures and extreme weather events. The rivers and streams we love (and the fish that live in them!) depend on our taking action. Learn more about what climate change is, why it matters, and how humans can help from NASA.

The great news is that we can help! We all have a voice, and lots of great ideas, and now is the time to rally for change at the household, community, and global levels. This week our activities will include a few of the many ways that we can help protect the rivers and spaces we love from the impacts of global warming.

Please share your adventures by emailing photos and reflections to And follow us on social media to stay updated on special Facebook Live events for campers and more!


image of woman helping children hold a seedling

Stream Cleanup & Restoration

Not only does planting trees directly help climate change by absorbing CO2 from the environment, but planting native trees and shrubs by a waterway helps protect the streams and rivers we love from the impacts of global warming, as well. These riparian buffers (the term for the native vegetation on the edge of a stream or river) combat pollution, decrease erosion and degradation, and restore wildlife habitat both in and around the stream.

Excess nutrients and sedimentation pollute our waterways. When we plant a buffer along a waterway, the trees and shrubs absorb and filter excess nutrients and keep them out of the streams. This improves water quality. The plants also provide shade along the waterway and reduce the temperature in the streams. This improves the habitat quality for fish and other organisms. And the root systems of the trees and shrubs help hold the bank soil together. This helps slow and absorb floodwaters and decrease erosion along the stream.

If possible (you may need a parent’s help), spend time this week planting native plants along a local stream. Choose native plants that will thrive in a streamside environment. Check out this online Native Plant Finder from the National Wildlife Federation or reach out to a local land trust, nonprofit organization, or your local Department of Forestry office for advice on what, how, and where to plant.

If planting trees is not an option for you, then pick a local stream to clean up. Grab your gloves and a trash bag and get to work! Cleaning up our streams is a great way to help restore and protect habitat. And if a local stream is too difficult to get to, simply clean up your neighborhood. Every little bit helps.

children laughing while holding a recycling bin

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

What is your carbon footprint, and why does it matter? When we walk in the sand, we leave a footprint. When we go through our daily lives, our activities and choices leave a “footprint” on our environment. Any activity that generates carbon gases contributes to the warming of our planet. So, our carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 and methane gas we release into the environment by consuming energy. Basically, the more energy we use, the larger our footprint.

What can we do to use a little less energy in our day-to-day lives? There is lots of great information out there for you to dig into, but here is a quick list of action items to get you started:

  • Turn off the lights when you aren’t using them.
  • Practice using less water. Take shorter showers and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth—all water that goes down the drain has to be processed at water treatment plants which take lots of energy.
  • Eat local foods. The less a food has to travel to get to your plate, the less energy is used.
  • Reuse & recycle.
  • Compost your food scraps - learn how to do it at home.
  • Plant a tree. Trees actually fight climate change by removing CO2 from the air—so cool!
  • Eat more organic foods since they are produced in a more energy-efficient way.
  • Reuse or buy used products.
  • Shop locally.
  • Eat your veggies. The processing, packaging, and transporting of meat uses lots of energy, so eating less meat is a great way to lower your carbon footprint.
  • Bike or walk instead of riding in a car.
  • Plant a garden at home or in a community garden space.
  • Air dry your laundry.
  • Create a habitat in your yard (check out the Create a Wildlife Habitat activity from week 2!).
  • Use your voice! Share your ideas with friends and family on how to help use less energy and protect our awesome planet.

…and that is a very short list! I am sure you can think of many great ideas. This week, identify three ways you can make a change that will help you live a more energy-efficient lifestyle.

Create an accountability poster to check off your progress each day. Share your ideas with your family and see if they want to try an energy-efficiency challenge with you!

group of kids picking up trash

Use Your Voice & Advocate!

As our summer camp session comes to a close, we encourage you to take your passion for the environment and use it to help your community. Begin a long-term commitment to a local campaign you believe in. For some campers, this may be protecting your watershed from pollution or protecting the habitat of a threatened species. For others, it may involve starting a composting program at your school or community center. And for others, it may be raising awareness about environmental justice, attending demonstrations, or starting a letter-writing campaign to your local representatives (yes, we know you are not old enough to vote, but you still have a voice!). The most important thing is that you follow your passion and get involved.

If you don’t know where to start, here is a quick three-step process to transfer your passion for conservation and environmentalism into action.

  1. Get educated. Take the time to find trusted resources on the issue that you have chosen. The learning process will begin here and will stick with you for a long time. Read, discuss, listen, subscribe to newsletters, follow trusted social media accounts, etc. Your parents can help. And don’t forget: No child is too young to start learning about threats facing our environment and the many opportunities for affecting positive change.
  2. Find a local group, organization, or campaign. Grassroots advocacy exists in almost every community. Find a group and get in touch! If you cannot find a group, start one! A sibling or neighbor may be up for joining you and your cause.
  3. Take action! You’ve educated yourself, you have found a community group, now it is time to take action. There is plenty of time left this summer, so use some of it to fight for planet Earth. It’s worth it!
view of a flat plain and blue sky with wispy clouds

More Resources

A group of people in canoes in a lake

Connect with Other Campers!

Please share your camp adventures on social media using #orvissummercamp

Send in photos of your maps and photos or reflections of your adventures to If you email us by the end of the day on Thursday, we will share some on our blog on Friday!