Who is My Neighbor?
At Rockmont, stewardship is central to our belief that human beings are created by the same God who created the entire universe and everything in it. “To till and keep” the Garden is the responsibility of the Christian steward.
Stan Wilson, our Associate Director, leads our environmental initiatives and recently took a few of us in the office on a field trip to the deck of Eden Hall. The view from there is stunning. Facing north towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp Rockmont looks directly into the Asheville Watershed basin. Every drop of water used or consumed by our neighbors, the residents of Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and the Greater Asheville area, comes through the Watershed we can see from the porch of our dining hall. Stan took time to explain to me, and now you, The Watershed Vision – Rockmont’s commitment to furthering our mission of Growth through even greater environmental stewardship.
Why is environmental stewardship important to Camp Rockmont?
Rockmont is a Christian camp; I think that means we should work to further recognize our place in a good, beautiful, and much-loved creation. Recognizing God’s presence is core to what we are already doing.
What environmental stewardship actions has Rockmont already put in place?
We have been committed to this for a long time. In 2008 we built a solar hot water system on the Gym and added solar panels to the top of The Ship. We started serving meals buffet-style to reduce waste (at the prompting of a camper). We now support the local food movement and purchase a portion of our food from local farmers. Our Homesteading Skill produces fresh vegetables that supplement our salad bar daily. We teach campers and staff to walk out of their way to turn off lights and pick up trash.
Our chief focus this summer will be on better aluminum recycling. That may sound very simple. We have done it in the past and now we want to step up our program. Our goal for this summer is to recycle 100% of our aluminum – no exceptions.
What can be the most challenging thing about recycling aluminum?
Recycling aluminum at a camp-wide level involves many steps. If aluminum has other trash mixed in, it will be rejected at the recycling center. To recycle 100% of our aluminum means no Cheerwine or other cans in the landfill trash, and no mixed trash in the aluminum bins. So, we have to be willing to get our hands dirty, dig in the trash, and then celebrate it.
How did you develop this idea?
In 2005 I was a pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi. During that time I visited Rockmont and was inspired by how they were recycling. That was years ago and Rockmont was leading the way. My church was inspired by Rockmont’s stewardship and so we implemented a program as well. It is my hope that Rockmont continues to spread the inspiration.
How do stewardship initiatives make Camp better for Campers?
The number one lesson we’ve learned and are trying to teach is an understanding of a central Biblical question from the Gospel of Luke: “Who is my neighbor?”
Our neighborhood is the Asheville Watershed, and our neighbors are every living creature that depend on it for water.
I love Wendall Berry’s twist on the Golden Rule:
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
We want our campers to look over our Waterfront, up the Valley, recognize its beauty, and develop a sense of belonging in Creation.
What is the number one action you want campers to take home?
We want them to see their neighborhood and have a greater understanding of their place in the world. I’d love for them to learn the name of their own watershed at home and start caring about it. We’re looking forward to campers arriving home after a session at Rockmont, further recognize the beauty of their own area, and want to contribute. We need people to love their local habitat because that’s where you find your neighbor, and that’s where you find yourself.
What does the future hold for Camp Rockmont’s environmental programming?
In addition to aluminum recycling, next year it’ll be all about composting. We hope to learn from Warren Wilson College and others. Who knows, we may even buy a pig.