Interpreting “Green” To Retreat Guests

Recently, I became a volunteer for the National Park Service (NPS). As part of my training, I was introduced to the concept of interpretation.

Encourage retreat guests to reduce, reuse, and recycle. ©CanStock Photo Inc./mangostock

In NPS language, the task of interpreting is to introduce a visitor to the natural or historical resources at a park. The interpreter then acts as a conduit between those resources and what is valuable and meaningful to the visitor.

This concept can be helpful to camp professionals who are inviting guests to participate in “green” practices, and to become participants in “greening” when they return home.

An old adage may apply here: You can give person a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime.

Conversely, you can show someone the recycling bin and save one or two soda cans, or you can inspire him or her to make a commitment to Earth care when he or she returns home and save an infinite number of cans, bottle, boxes, and plastic.

If your camp is like many these days, you are focused on ways to practice “greening.” Perhaps you recycle, have replaced light bulbs, and only use post-consumer waste paper in the office. The board may have adopted environmentally friendly policies, or even included a commitment to sustainability in the mission statement.

Now you are ready for the next step–sharing this commitment through interpretation with retreat guests, inviting them to participate, and inspiring them to continue the practice when they get home.

Here are five suggestions:

1. Become An Interpreter

The primary task of camp hosts is to welcome retreat guests and offer them hospitality. This includes making sure they know where they will sleep and eat, as well as where the activities will take place.

This is the time when guests learn the procedures for meals, how to reach the host with questions and needs, and general risk-management practices. This time should also include extending an invitation to participate in recycling and other “green” practices.

The goal of interpretation is to help guests make the connection between their experience, their values, and their choices. Through various activities, we help guests increase their enjoyment and sense of connection with the facility and their experience there.

The goal is for guests to care about what is at the camp or retreat center and perhaps to extend that care to the environment at home.

2. Help Guests Connect With Their Values And Experiences

As a host, I have frequently heard comments from guests about how beautiful, peaceful, and wonderful the camp is. You have probably heard similar comments.

Create future caretakers of the Earth. © Can Stock Photo Inc./micropix

These are expressions of amazement and wonder, of appreciation and gratitude. They are descriptions of something that goes beyond simply the temporal environment and resources to the spiritual and intangible values of what the guests experience.

Here are questions that can help them make that connection:

• What is most wonderful to you?

• How does it make you feel?

• What memories does it bring to mind?

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Retreat With The SMERF Market
  2. Green Ideas
  3. Warm Welcome
  4. Retreat For One
  5. Going Green While Saving Green
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers