Camp Seymour's Commitment to Sustainability

"Through education and actions, YMCA Camp Seymour strives to inspire and empower every camp participant to make environmentally sound choices today and every day. Responsible choices for future generations."

Below are just a few highlights of ways that YMCA Camp Seymour is being sustainable:

Living Machine

YMCA Camp Seymour installed Washington's largest Living Machine in 2003. The Living Machine (created by Living Systems) is an onsite sewage treatment facility that treats effluent to a level that allows water reuse in irrigation. The most visible part of the treatment facility is a greenhouse, where plants and other living organisms-housed in six aerobic hydroponic tanks - treat camp's waste-water. The final processing is done in a wetland just outside the greenhouse. The Living Machine is essentially its own ecosystem, accelerating nature's own water purification process!

The visible demonstration of functional and sustainable systems provides a living classroom of alternative ways to process waste and reuse resources. Camp's Outdoor and Environmental Education program incorporates concepts of sustainability into its curriculum. As a result more than 10,000 school children, parents, and teachers who visit camp annually have the opportunity to learn first-hand how sustainable systems can work cooperatively with nature to produce useful end products.

EnviroStars (4 stars!)

In June of 2014, EnviroStars Cooperative awarded YMCA Camp Seymour a four star rating for our environmentally responsible practices. EnviroStars (sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department) recognizes businesses by awarding them a two-to-five star rating based on environmental performance criteria such as management of hazardous materials and working towards pollution prevention. Our commitment to these practices is a commitment to our community to eliminate, reduce and recycle hazardous wastes and toxic materials.


Camp has a vermicomposting bin where red wiggler worms eat up to 300 pounds a week of fruit and vegetable scraps from the dining hall and turn it into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer

At the end of every meal during the Outdoor and Environmental Education program, staff collect, weigh, and announce to the kids how many pounds of compost were collected. All of the compost is taken to the Earth Tub outside the Living Machine. The Earth Tub is a hot composting system created by Green Mountain Technologies. This fully enclosed composting system can compost up to 100 pounds of biodegradables per day, taking all of the different types of food waste produced in our kitchen including meat and dairy. Food waste and dry materials such as wood chips or leaves are placed in the tub, and then students can help turn the compost by using a motorized auger. Due to the high heat in the Earth Tub, the food scraps break down quickly and within a month we can empty the tub of all its compost into a holding area to stabilize for a few weeks before using it in camp's organic garden. This new addition is keeping hundreds of pounds of food waste out of the landfill each week!

In the summer, campers have the opportunity to participate in a garden and farm "camptivity" each day a week. During the week, the kids have a chance to work in the organic garden, helping harvest organic produce grown from the compost created by the Earth Tub, which was produced using the food waste from the kids earlier in the year! It all comes full circle!

Reclaimed Chicken Coop with a Living Roof

In 2012 we repurposed camp's old water tank into a demonstration chicken coop to educate about another way people can grow their food, in this case eggs, in a more environmentally friendly way. We upcycled some of camp's old cabin window, installing them in the chicken coop to create a luxurious, roomy, and bright chicken coop. We established a living roof on top of the coop with different varieties of plants to provide a habitat for birds and insects, as well as provide insulation for the coop.

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