Summertime is around the corner and the energetic youth among us will be looking for activities to keep them occupied and challenged. Portland has many great local non-profits offering sustainability- and environmentally-focused camps, workshops and group activities. These programs have varying fees, and many are low-cost or free. Opportunities for youth include learning about growing fresh food, recycling and reuse, reducing waste, building and the environment. Here are a few of these interactive environmentally-friendly programs.
This local non-profit helps neighborhoods reuse small brownfields (contaminated sites such as former auto body shops or gas stations) for community benefit. These reclaimed areas become community gardens and green spaces. Their new Green Team Program provides low-income, diverse and disadvantaged youth an opportunity to learn about environmental justice and leadership, their neighborhood, job skills, civic engagement and clean-up work through a safe, monitored process.
Growing Gardens (GG)
GG is green thumbs non-profit dedicated to minimizing hunger by building organic gardens in urban backyards and schools and providing cooking classes that promote healthy eating. GG’s Youth Grow program teaches elementary school-age children about healthy foods, how to grow food and the importance of good nutrition. You can attend after school garden clubs, summer garden camps and parent/child workshops. Children can see what a fresh kohlrabi looks like, how large kale gets before it is ready to harvest, and dig up buried potatoes.
Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. (OTI)
OTI is a non-profit dedicated to “promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship.” The 20th anniversary of their Middle- and High-School Days at the Women in Trades Career Fair runs May 17-18. This popular event inspires youth to explore career options in the construction trades. In addition to employer booths, there are hands-on work shops where girls can build a birdhouse, weld, construct a tabletop windmill and wire a light switch. Girls can climb to the top of a fire ladder, scale a utility pole, use a jack hammer, install and take home native landscaping plants, and much more. Girls may attend with their schools if they are registered, or may attend unregistered on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Careers for Women Day which is open to all.
Starting in June, Building Girls Camps features week-long summer construction camps for middle and high-school girls that provide youth opportunities to perfect math skills, use power tools, install tile and trim, paint, weld and construct a small structure which is then donated to a community organization.
Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR)
PPR offers summer day camps for children of all ages. Its Teen Nature Programs offer field trips including exposure to medicinal plants, native wildlife, mountain biking, rafting, water quality, compass skills, habitats, animal tracking and photography. These programs encourage “no child left inside” and the early development of “thoughtful” planet stewards.
School Community Reuse Action Project (SCRAP)
SCRAP is a non-profit dedicated to “filling minds not landfills.” In addition to regular creative reuse workshops in their retail store, SCRAP offers week long Camp SCRAP where elementary-school aged children can make new functional items from discarded materials, explore hands-on learning activities, learn about reducing waste and experiment with creative ideas and design.
The ReBuilding Center (TRC)
A non-profit enterprise of Our United Villages, TRC has a huge used building material warehouse in North Portland, a building deconstruction crew, free material pick-up service and a reclaimed wood furniture showroom. They are dedicated to providing quality, used building materials at an affordable price along with reuse ideas. TRC offers free presentations and warehouse tours to school and community groups. Children of all ages can learn about how building materials are saved from the landfill, the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit,) the economics of reuse and sustainability. TRC also hosts beginner carpentry, tiling and reuse workshops for youth groups.