Tending God's Garden

By: Juniper Lewis  

According to the United Methodist Magazine "Interpreter," kids who go to a religious summer camp are twice as likely to remain religious when they reach adulthood. So what is it about pairing religion and being out in the woods that is retaining believers? How does environmental education become a part of ones evangelical outreach? At a United Methodist summer camp in Northern Wisconsin, making kids care about the environment goes hand in hand with teaching them Biblical truths and wisdom. The work done at camps like this one is part of a larger environmental push from congregations towards a practice of stewardship. Environmentalist thought in the United States has since its inception been connected to Protestant Biblical teachings and interpretations. Now, as camps work to continue these older traditions and revive a theology of creation care, they are competing not only against the pressures of the economic market but also against apathy and anti-environmental pressures from within the broader Christian community. Through ethnographic fieldwork in United Methodist congregations and camps, the importance of the intermingling of environmentalism and religious teachings to the continuation of both individual religious identity and larger environmentalist movements becomes clear.

Environmental Education Christianity
Religious Community and Socialization
Virtual Lightning Talk

Juniper Lewis

Graduate Student, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States
United States