The Nature Camp History Committee (NCHC) is pleased to announce that our initial set of historical documents and photographs is now housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections at UVA. We hope this collection will serve anyone interested in Nature Camp’s important role in furthering environmental education. Anyone interested in perusing the Nature Camp History Collection will find it available during regular library hours (Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 9 PM, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 AM
to 5 PM). If you want to find out more, you can call the special collections library at 434.243.1776 or visit the web page: http://small.library.virginia.edu/.
We’re pleased that alumni are already asking about the collection and making use of it. Early this year, Elizabeth Thrower Coberly (camper, 1984-1988) contacted us to ask whether we had anything related to the establishment of Nature Camp in the 1940s or anything documenting the “natural advocacy” work of her grandmother, Hazel Thrower. I was thrilled to receive the email, especially since I remembered Mrs. Thrower fondly. She was active in environmental education and issues from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. She made sure that Elizabeth, her siblings, and her cousins all attended Nature Camp, and I remember meeting her on several of her visits to Camp during the summer sessions when I was on staff. I also remember Colonel Reeves’ telling me that Mrs. Thrower was an important advocate of Camp during her tenure as president of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs in the early 1980s.
After our email exchange about her project, Elizabeth scheduled a visit with Nancy Lowry. At that point, Nancy was beginning the process of organizing the papers for submission to the archives, but she was able to help Elizabeth find some interesting material for use in her current graduate work. This project, in Elizabeth’s own words, includes a chapter in “a book which is a collection of essays, letters, art, music, etc. The focus is the role of nature, interpretation, recreation, and conservation. We [the authors featured in the book] are taking a historic view [of environmentalism] going back to the discovery of the Americas” (email to me, Feb 13, 2013). So these documents have already served a member of the Nature Camp community, not to mention Camp’s overall goals of promoting environmental stewardship.
Of course, we hope that Elizabeth’s work is only the beginning. Now that we are set up for them, our committee invites submissions of material from the Nature Camp community: letters, journals, artwork, photographs, reports, awards, notebooks, scrapbooks, clippings—anything that helps document the history of Camp or helps people understand the Nature Camp experience and mission. If you have items that you wish to donate, please visit the Nature Camp Foundation website. There you’ll find specific instructions regarding how to submit materials. If the items you wish to give us match up with what we’re seeking, please email me. There’s one caveat: we have most issues of the Woodland Echoes, but we’re still missing a few. Please—don’t send us your old Camp newspapers unless it’s on the list below.
Now that we have our document collection up and running, our next focus will be on developing our oral history collection efforts. The first step is finding people who will commit to the project. We need people who are interested in being trained to interview former campers, staff, and friends of Camp. This is a significant commitment, as it will require time and some training. But it’s also one of the greatest joys you can imagine! If you are interested in volunteering for any of the NCHP’s tasks, oral history or otherwise, please contact either Nancy or me and we’ll talk to you about the possibilities. Our committee is especially suited for those who would like to come to the Service weekends, but whose tastes and talents run more toward the clerical (or conversational) than the “constructional!”
-Katie Hoffman, History Project Director
Issues of the Woodland Echoes that we still don’t have:
1998: all sessions
1992: second session
1972: first session
1971: first, second, and fourth sessions
1970: second, fourth
1969: first and third
1966: first and fourth
1965: all sessions
1964: third and fourth
1963: all sessions
1962: third session
1956: first and third
1954: all sessions
1955: all sessions
1953:first and second
We don’t have any before 1953, and could really use anything from 1943-1951 (Sherando)