The Nature Camp History Committee’s primary purpose, of course, is documenting the history of the camp and allowing those who visit the collection to understand the Nature Camp experience from a number of different perspectives. To that end, we’ve just posted the Nature Camp History Project Donation Form, which you must fill out if you want to donate your photos, correspondence, scrapbooks, audio video recordings, and other archival material to the Nature Camp History Collection. We’ve set up an FAQ page that you can visit to find out more about donating items. The Nature Camp History Collection is housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections at the University of Virginia. We will keep as much of a duplicate archive as is practical at Nature Camp, but the main collection will be housed in Charlottesville. Since the Staff House Office is not climate-controlled or critter-free, we’ll allow UVA to keep our documents stored under optimal conditions. This will also make them more widely accessible year-round, during business hours at the special collections.

Now that we’re ready to collect items from the membership at large, we invite you to check your stash of Nature Camp memorabilia and see whether you have some of the items we hope to include. We’d love to have letters to and from campers, report notebooks, old tests, and artwork. We’re also seeking photographs, but we’re only able to accept them if the people featured can be identified at least by group (e.g., Limnology class, second session, 1975) – and if the approximate dates and locations can be given. Instructions for donating items can be found on our History Project FAQ list and also on the Nature Camp History Project Donation Form.

We’re also piloting the oral history project, which will be a central element of the documentation effort. Once we have a crew of trained interviewers, we’ll begin collecting more and training more interviewers. Please do not simply go out and record folks, as we want to make sure that all of our recordings are done in a manner that allows us to include them in the archives! If you’re interested in being trained to conduct interviews, please contact me at the email address below.

A lot of our work will take place across the year, and there’s even some that can be done remotely. All of it is important! We’ll also offer some opportunities during service weekends; anyone who doesn’t want to crawl under the boys’ bunkhouse or climb up on the roof of the infirmary can help us with cataloging the documents and recordings in the office at the camp, along with sorting and organizing documents and photos for inclusion in the Nature Camp History Collection. News about our needs, deeds, and progress will be published in the next issue of The Afterglow. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please contact either Katie Hoffman or Nancy Lowry with questions.

-Katie Hoffman, Nature Camp History Project Director