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Environment I: The Reason for Green

Title:  The Environment I: The Reason for Green

Subject:  Stewardship of the environment

Age: 11+ years

Direct Aim:  This session introduces the environmental crisis, the irresponsible stewardship that has caused it, and the Christian perspective on stewardship of creation.

For this session you will need a computer and LCD projector to show video to a large group, The Story of Stuff (video) to show the large group, and audio equipment for video sound.

Large group video (20 minutes)
Small group activity (20 minutes)
Main points (5-10 minutes)
Sum Up and Challenge (3 minutes)

Campers will take home a better understanding of "the story of stuff" (from production to consumption) and how it affects the created world; an awareness of their own "stuff" and where it came from, and "The Story of Stuff" on their CD.

Large Group Video: "The Story of Stuff"
Gather all the camper groups in a main area where they can watch a video. After an opening prayer, show them The Story of Stuff video. The total time for this streaming video is 20 minutes. If you want to cut down the time, simply watch the last three chapters, Consumption, Disposal, and What Now. Make sure all small group leaders watch the video with the campers. They will need to be familiar with its content for the small group activity.

Small Group Activity: Stewardship of "Stuff"
Choose one of the options below for your activity. The point is to make the environmental situation real and relevant to campers.

Option 1: Have your group head outside to wherever the trash is kept at the campsite. (A good time to see the trash might be after a meal, when the camp staff is carrying all the trashed food, paper plates, Styrofoam cups, etc., out to the dumpster.) Have your group of campers go through a bag or two of trash and see what's in it.

Discussion Questions:
What in the trash is recyclable? (most paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, etc)
What of this trash is made for "planned obsolescence"?
What is not biodegradable or recyclable (Styrofoam, batteries, etc)?
How much food was thrown away? How many people could this have fed? (reflects our society's wastefulness of resources)
Where will all this trash go?

Following this discussion, continue with the Main Points.

Option 2: Take your campers back to their cabins/dorm and have them go through the items they brought along to camp (toiletries, snacks, clothes, water bottles, etc).

Discussion Questions:
What that I brought to camp is designed for "planned obsolescence"? (water bottles, toiletry packaging to be thrown away, disposable camera, etc)
What is recyclable? (most paper, plastic, aluminum)
How much packaging is on food, toiletries, and other items? (think about how much plastic and paper are wasted, as well as energy to process it all)
What kind of processed/chemical substances are in snack food? (take a look at the nutritional info on snack food: chips, coke, candy, etc) What kind of chemicals are we putting in our bodies?
Where are my clothes made? Who manufactures my clothes and why do they cost what they cost? (notice how many clothes are made in third world countries; how does this profit our economy??)
How much of this stuff will I still have in three weeks? Three months? Three years?

Main Points
What we saw in the video "The Story of Stuff" is happening in our own homes, camps, and schools.
God put humanity in charge of caring for His creation. We are stewards. The dictionary definition of a steward is "a person who manages another's property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others."

Have a volunteer read aloud the following passage from Genesis:
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Have we been good stewards? No, as a society/community, we have been irresponsible, lazy, and abusive to creation. We have created so much "stuff" that we can't take care of it responsibly.

To Sum Up & Challenge
State the following in your own words.
This activity was not meant to make us feel guilty. It is meant to open our eyes to the reality of how we treat the earth and each other. Once we know the truth, we cannot help but take action. This is called conviction. Environmental stewardship is part of our responsibility and calling as Christians. Today I challenge us all to think about our role in "the story of stuff," and to think about how much stuff we have and how we use it. Let's re-evaluate our attitudes and actions in the light of being responsible stewards. In the next session, we will learn more ways to become responsible stewards.

Close with a prayer.

Prepared by Mary Long