Grant Site Update: Upper South Carolina, Camp Gravatt
We are so thankful for the UTO grant that funded the creation of our Environmental Education classrooms and expanded our Environmental Education Program at Gravatt Camp and Conference Center in Aiken, South Carolina. Because of the grant, we were able to create three new outdoor education sites: a garden classroom, an outdoor classroom, and a tree house with a campsite. These three new learning centers at Gravatt will allow us to better serve and educate future visiting groups. In addition to the classrooms, the UTO grant allowed us to build a labyrinth and a composting toilet by the tree house. Our UTO grant also made it possible to add to our Environmental Education Program by allowing us to purchase pigs to show safe and humane raising practices.
In November 2016, we were fortunate to receive an AmeriCorps NCCC team for six weeks. The AmeriCorps NCCC team Delta 6 assisted us in the creation of our Environmental Education classrooms, from clearing land to building benches and assisting in the tree house construction. Having an NCCC team greatly impacted our grant project by allowing us to work on many aspects of our project at once.
When our tree house was completed in April 2017, the Aiken County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting event. This allowed the community to see what we, with the help of our UTO grant, were able to do. In May, when our executive director announced she was leaving, the staff decided that the tree house would honor her and bear her name, as it was part of her dreams for Gravatt. Currently, the tree house is being used by our summer camp as a setting for environmental education and devotions and as a space to gather.
Now that our Environmental Education classrooms have been created, it is our objective to begin growing and marketing our Environmental Education Program. Our goal is to have five environmental education groups in the next year and to continue increasing this number each year. We will also continue to raise pigs, and we are set to begin selling meat within the next week or so. Once again, we are thankful for the United Thank Offering and its generosity, which has helped Gravatt to expand our ministry through environmental education.