Green in More Than Name Only

At Gwynn Valley, is used to describe more than the color of our landscape.
Gwynn Valley has always been an organization that promotes practices that are good for our earth. When camp was founded in 1935, Mary Gwynn established 1 of our 4 core values to be “appreciation of the natural world.” Through exploration and understanding of our natural world, we hope children will establish a connection to the environment at an early age and a life-long sense of stewardship for the environment.

We realize that this type of long-term impact is not enough, and so we engage in more immediate sustainability practices as well. Many people have helped make this green dream a reality. As our head of site and farm, Dale Robertson is has been a part of that journey and has been an advocate for sustainability that makes sense here at camp. Those of you who don’t know Dale may just see him on opening and closing days directing traffic and directing his staff in getting you in and out of camp in a way that allows you to focus on your children. Dale has been at Gwynn Valley for over 40 years, and has done many things here including starting the farm program back in the early 1980s. The following are some of the things that Gwynn Valley has been doing over the past decade or more under Dale’s leadership:

  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and metal for 20 years
  • Using high efficiency lighting in over half our cabins, which are run from batteries for over 20 years
  • Installing water-saver shower heads that use only 2 gallons per minute, saving up to 40% in water and heated water usage. We also have water saver toilets in most of our cabins and bathrooms
  • Using compact fluorescent lights throughout our program for over 15 years
  • Growing 60-70% of our food and raising our own meet (all beef, some chicken), thereby lessening our carbon footprint by eliminating food transportation from farm to table by wholesalers and purveyors (plus homegrown food also tastes better!)
  • Heating 70% of the camp’s hot water with wood that is down or dead on the property; 15% of that wood goes into building projects instead of the boilers (cabin siding, roofing, etc.)
  • Powering the Mill with water that also churns the ice cream machine 
  • Utilizing our web site as a means by which to access camper applications, staff applications and parent handbooks which save paper
  • Windmill to pump water for livestock at the farm

The more I speak with other camp directors, the more I realize how progressive we really are. It has been a conscious effort to make Gwynn Valley a place that really has a strong connection to the values of the land and to educate our campers to that end. We’re a business that uses a lot of resources and has a lot of impact but there are always ways to improve and make our system better. Looking ahead we’ve focused on some long range and short range projects that will keep us attuned to our commitment to the environment and more importantly our commitment to a better world for our children and their children.

Future Projects

  • Use more environmentally safe cleaning products
  • Large scale & environmentally friendly composting practices
  • Replace plastic dinner ware used for picnics with compostable or recyclable dinner ware
  • Build a Pelton Water Wheel to power all of camp (this is a long range project that was first looked at in the late 80’s – we’ve already got the plan)
  • Use solar panels on roofs that get enough direct sun to heat water
  • Green designs for future facilities and buildings

Many of these things you can do at home. We hope you will begin that journey toward a greener existence. If you have ideas that you would like to share with us please feel free to get in touch. We look forward to keeping Gwynn Valley a great model for sustainability.

Meet Our Staff

301 Gwynn Valley Trail, Brevard, NC 28712 | (828) 885-2900