Baha’i Camp Encourages Love of Nature
In a paper called Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote: “Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men.” Motivated by that quote, a group of Baha’is put their heads and hearts together in 2002. Their efforts led to creation of the eco-camp for people of the Baha’i faith at Catoctin Camp in Maryland.
Catoctin facilitates a connection between young people and nature, while teaching campers about the connection between nature and the Baha’i Faith. Participants can swim, paddle a canoe, go on hikes, sit by a lighted campfire in the evening, and learn about environment from scholars. They can even carry a fist-full of wriggly, little black snakes in their hands!
“I think that’s when all goodness starts, when children are small and their hearts are open, and just in general,” said Nancy Villadsen, Catoctin Baha’i Camp Planner. “Hooking their hearts to goodness to learn about the environment and what are the current needs of the environment and to learn different ways that they can go back as children and junior youth to do things in their homes and in their communities to promote the betterment of the world of ecology.”
The activities are designed to help the children develop a deeper sense of nature. For example, one activity involves the children just sitting on the ground with their eyes closed, so they could better listen to the sounds of nature. The campers also played a game using a bandana. The person who wore the bandana had to utilize senses such as hearing, touch and smell, in order to learn about the natural surroundings.
And it’s no surprise that the beauty of nature can inspire the creative mind. One artistic camper recalled a time when he had seen light filtered through trees trunks and tree limbs in the woods. He created a T-shirt that delivered a message about the light of justice. He illustrated his message with a drawing that showed light shining through a group of trees.
Not far from the National Baha’i Center in Wilmette, IL, another group of Baha’i youth has been using their children’s class to show the connection between unity and preservation of the environment. They wanted their students to realize that an action taken in one part of the world can have repercussions over the entire planet. To demonstrate this affect, they had the students put a drop of food coloring in a bowl of water and then watch as the introduced hue spread throughout the clear liquid.
“Man is organic with the world,” said Halal Jarrar, Catoctin Baha’i Camp Planner. “His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it — the one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.”
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