JCC at Craggy Gardens

In July, AmeriCorps member Travis Bordley and other SAHC staff enjoyed a beautiful day at Craggy Gardens while providing basic environmental education to a group of students from Asheville’s Jewish Community Center (JCC). These students, mostly elementary and middle schoolers, are a part of a summer camp offered by JCC. The theme of this year’s camp is the word Teva, a Hebrew word which translates to “nature.”

Camp leaders figured the best way to celebrate nature was to not only experience it, but to learn from land trust staff how people protect it and how we can help maintain that protected land. Travis took some time to encourage students to admire views of mountains and undeveloped land for miles before pointing out the distantly visible I-26. He went on to explain the difference between public protected lands like those along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and private lands used for development of roads, housing, and other manmade structures. The group learned that public protected lands are used for outdoor recreation, scenic beauty, and to protect unique and diverse plant and animal species and their habitats in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

SAHC staff, camp leaders, and camp goers all enjoyed a hike to a shaded area for lunch where Travis then discussed the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Though young, this bright group of children were mostly familiar with the principles and why each of them are important. Several students were eager to raise their hands to answer questions about why it’s crucial to minimize human impact on these public lands. After lunch the group excitedly hiked back to the parking lot, ready to trek up to Craggy Pinnacle.

Full of energy and awe of their ecological surroundings, the kids hiked to the top of Craggy Pinnacle. Here they marveled at panoramic views and beautiful scenery, casting smiles out to the mountains all around them. Travis pointed out Mt. Mitchell in the distance and informed the group that the mountain is the highest in elevation east of the Mississippi River. Camp leaders proceeded to gather the group for photos, where the kids all were ready to smile and yell out “1, 2, 3, Teva!” to the cameras.

Danielle Dror, assistant programming director at the JCC joined in on the event and afterwards remarked that, “Every time we schedule a program with SAHC, I am reminded of how important and special it is to foster a love for our earth and a sense of responsibility to our environment. Travis has been a big driving force in educating our community. He is fun, well informed, and flexible to work with any age group. We are so glad we were able to collaborate with SAHC this year!”

After a fun and educational day at Craggy Gardens, the group hiked down to the parking lot and departed back to Asheville. Thank you to the folks at the Jewish Community Center for inviting SAHC to share the message of our work with younger generations.