Nature Camp Inc. News

News from Nature Camp, Inc.

By October 5, 2010 No Comments

From the October 2010 Afterglow.

We enjoyed another successful and gratifying summer at Nature Camp. Enrollment declined slightly from 2009, but the total number of applications topped 400 for the first time in over a decade and at one point this spring each session had a waiting list for both boys and girls. Moreover, I believe this was only the third or fourth year in Nature Camp’s history in which at least 85 campers attended each of the four sessions. Forty?four percent of the campers received some form of financial assistance, including 78 who were granted tuition reduction from Nature Camp.The most exciting highlight from this summer was the procurement of many more local sources of food. We now have relationships with two farmers who delivered produce throughout the summer, nearly all our meat comes from a local abattoir/retail store (which processes the proprietor’s own beef, as well as local pork and chicken), and nearly all our flour came from Wade’s Mill, a local 18th century gristmill which grinds, in part, wheat grown in Stuarts Draft. During the course of the summer we enjoyed a wide variety of local meat, dairy, tofu, fruits and vegetables, jam, and honey—all raised, grown, or produced within 100 miles of Camp. Our dedicated and talented cooks, Lucas Gillenwater and Christopher Powell, deserve tremendous credit for embracing this effort, for taking the time to pick up food from Lexington and other places, and for the greater effort required to make meals largely from scratch. This summer they baked nearly all the bread (including buns) and even made their own chicken patties and pork barbeque, which were incomparably better than what we had been buying commercially. We did wind up spending more money on food, but nevertheless managed to stay within the budget, and 30 percent of our food dollars went to local producers. I often hear compliments about the food at Camp, but this year the number of compliments—and their sincerity—was greater than ever.

In June we inducted six new members into the Nature Camp Roll of Honor:

Helen Worth Gordon—for her leadership and foresight in helping to establish Nature Camp and to forge a lasting relationship with the U.S. Forest Service. Mrs. Gordon attended in January 1941 a pivotal meeting of the Conservation Committee of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs, under the chairmanship of Lillian Schilling. During the meeting Mrs. Schilling proposed sponsoring someone to attend the Audubon Society camp in Maine and thence to return to Virginia equipped to serve as an instructor for young people in the study of natural resources. To this suggestion Mrs. Gordon is reported to have remarked, “Why a state with all the natural resources [that] Virginia has within her borders should find it necessary to study nature lore in the state of Maine, or anywhere else, excepting within her own precincts is something beyond my comprehension.”

Ben McIlwaine—for igniting the very spark which led to the formation of the Nature Camp Foundation. In 1988 Ben organized a reunion of former campers and counselors, during which the notion of creating an alumni organization and tax?exempt foundation was born. The following year the Nature Camp Foundation was established.

Bill Pinkham—for visionary leadership as an early member of the NCF Board of Directors. Bill proposed establishing the Lillian Schilling Fellows program, to encourage NCF members to commit to pledges of annual support and ultimately to donate at least $1000 to the organization, and secured NCF’s purchase of two multi?passenger vans for Nature Camp, including the Chevy van which we still drive. Nell Jefferson Fredericksen—for generous and boundlessly creative contributions to Nature Camp. For 25 years Nell has created the design for each summer’s edition of the Nature Camp T?shirt. This year’s drawing brings back her drawing of hands linked in the Friendship Circle (which she placed over a depiction of the chapel for a shirt design several years ago which included the bear paws of longtime director Colonel John H. Reeves, Jr. in the center) with the iconic image of the bridge over Big Mary’s underneath. Nell of course also serves as director of communications for the NCF, in which capacity she formats The Afterglow, and this past spring she also designed the beautiful and sublime plaque, featuring a dogwood tree and tiger swallowtail butterfly, permanently honoring major contributors to the NCF’s recent Campaign for Nature Camp.

Lyt Wood—for tireless service to Nature Camp, particularly in care of our trees and in the interest of maintaining a safe environment. As a faithful participant in the NCF’s semi?annual Service Weekends, Lyt has spent untold hours pruning the trees in and around Camp and removing dead limbs—and occasionally entire trees—which pose a safety hazard or which threaten the structural integrity of buildings. In so doing Lyt has saved Nature Camp countless thousands of dollars.

Amy Beaird—for 25 years of exemplary and professional service to the Nature Camp staff, including 13 as Camp’s primary emergency medical technician.

Finally, we will implement a change to the application procedure for 2011 (which actually represents a return to the practice of several years ago). Applications will be available in late November as they have for several years, but may not be returned until 15 January 2011. This procedure is intended to allow garden clubs and other sponsoring organizations sufficient time to select scholarship recipients before sessions fill. Dates for the 2011 sessions are posted on the Nature Camp website (

On behalf of Nature Camp, I thank all of you for your continued support. ? Flip Coulling