The Antiochian Village Camp  is now much more than a summer camp! In the fall of 2010, an Environmental and Outdoor Education Program was founded. The Antiochian Village Camp has continually been improving facilities and practices in order to incorporate “green” practices and sustainability. The Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is another step that we are blessed to take in our commitment to stewardship. The mission of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is to increase understanding and awareness of our environment, stimulate critical and creative thinking, develop the ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues, and instill the confidence and the commitment to take responsible action on behalf of the environment. The program is available from September through May for any interested group.
The primary focus of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is, as our mission statement states, to ultimately increase participants’ knowledge and awareness surrounding our environment. For certain groups, such as youth groups, religion and creationism is included in the program. For other groups, such as schools, religion is not included in the program. While the mission of the Antiochian Village Camp is to present to young people a living experience of the Holy Orthodox Faith, in their relationship with God and other campers in an uncluttered, natural environment we remain true to providing youth with an uncluttered and natural environment in which to learn.
Interest within the Laurel Highlands for a program of this nature has been peaked. We just completed our first year of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program and had a few groups participate. A group of approximately 20 homeschooling families attended monthly “Environmental Days” from January through May. The age range of participants was from 4 to 15 years old. Topics taught included animal adaptations, “green” practices, orienteering, and composting. A local Brownie Girl Scout troop also participated in the program in April and May ultimately spending a night and earning their Outdoor Adventurer Try-It. Most recently we welcomed a local 6th grade class of approximately 120 students to participate in outdoor education. The 6th graders and their teachers participated over a course of 2 days in activities such as archery, orienteering, leather stamping, wood burning, watershed studies, canoeing, and challenge course initiatives and low elements.
We at the Antiochian Village Camp ask for your prayers and support in our new endeavor. As our inaugural year of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program drew to a close, we look forward to more groups experiencing the Antiochian Village Camp next fall! Contact Tatiana Jacobs, the Education Director at the Antiochian Village, at Tatiana@antiochianvillage.org  or 724-238-9565 for more information or if you are interested in a customized program for your group.
By Tatiana K. Jacobs