Leadership Academy’s Grounds Keepers Program
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
We’ve all heard it spoken of; maybe we’ve all felt it – the sense that our earth’s environmental problems are beyond fixing, the idea that there’s so much needed to heal our planet that it just can’t be done. And yet, the story of the starfish thrower tugs at our hearts, resonating deeply. Could it possibly be true that our small, individual actions can have an impact?
At Leadership Academy, we answer that question with a resounding, “Yes!” We strongly believe that small actions, even those made by small people, can make a big difference. We believe that children already hold within themselves the power to effect change in the world. And we believe that it’s our job to inspire and empower those children to tap into their passion and take an active role in improving things in their community, their city and their world.
Therefore, we are thrilled to announce that our first Leadership Academy Grounds Keepers campaign is underway! One of our company’s core beliefs is that it’s our duty to protect the natural world by leaving it better than we found it, and we build this conviction into each of our camp programs every summer. Throughout those summer months we’ve had great success with teaching and enacting “leave no trace” principles. Inspired by the Granite Gear Grounds Keepers, we are now extending those practices into the entire year with our new Grounds Keepers program. It works like this:
- Participants ages 5-13 commit to visiting a nature park, trail hike, lake, river or waterway at least once a month from February through November.
- They make a 100% promise to leave it better than they found it, picking up and packing out trash whenever possible on their adventures. Special focus goes to those tiny bits of trash that confuse animals and end up in our waterways.
- Participants promise to be storytellers through imagery or video that will be used on social media.
- They work to lead by example and inspire others to join their mission.
This year, our inaugural Grounds Keepers team consists of seven incredible campers who have made these commitments. You can learn more about these awesome young people on our website.
We know that by working to clean up our precious natural areas, these children will not only improve the environment but will also gain some critical new skills and beliefs. Our Grounds Keeper program will help these activists become:
- Kids who understand themselves as part of a larger community.
No man (or kid!) is an island, and each person’s actions influence the world around them – for better and for worse. By cleaning up local natural areas, our Grounds Keepers will learn firsthand how each individual’s choices can either infect or improve the outdoors. They will learn that by sacrificing their time to care for the earth they can make it better – and that this sacrifice not only makes a difference, but is imperative for the health of the community at large.
- Kids who make mindful choices as consumers.
It won’t take long for our Grounds Keepers to know just how damaging certain products can be to the environment as they clean up buckets of single-use plastics and other litter. This, in turn, will influence their own consumer habits, and help them – and those around them – to make choices that are less wasteful and more conscientious.
- Kids who are passionate about protecting our planet.
Action begets action, and kids who spend time working to make their small corner of the Earth a better place will be inspired toward further good deeds. Kids who know they are making a difference on this small scale will grow up to be adults who want to continue to protect and care for their planet.
- Kids who love nature.
Being in nature soothes us, heals us, brings us peace. Our Grounds Keepers are committing to getting out in nature on a regular basis. This time spent outdoors will inspire in them a love for the water, the dirt, the sky, the clouds, the animals, the bugs, the world.
- Kids who understand that every part of nature matters.
One of our goals last summer was to help our campers understand that bugs have purpose. We don’t have to love them. We don’t have to know everything about them, or call them by their scientific names. We don’t even have to touch them. But we have to know that they are an important part of our earth and its ecosystems. Even if a bug looks weird or scary, we know that it has meaning. This belief can be expanded to apply to our communities and to the world at large. Our Grounds Keepers will gain an even stronger sense of this truth – we’re all connected, and we all have a purpose.
We can’t wait to see where this new campaign will lead. Feeling inspired and want to join us? Follow our Grounds Keepers’ work on Facebook and Instagram, and make the pledge to “leave it better” yourself!