Isaac Mayer Wise Academy and URJ Camp Establish Eco-Village

The Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Greene Family Camp (GFC) announced the establishment of the Isaac Mayer Wise Academy Eco-Village at GFC in Bruceville, Texas.

Through the Eco-Village, some of which will be complete by next summer, campers will produce their own food, build their own communities, and explore the natural world in a more in-depth way. For many city-dwelling campers, this will be a transformative experience. It will be a place where older campers can learn about and experience the natural world while teaching younger campers to appreciate it. Every camper and staff member will be involved.

Plans for the Eco-Village include a new horseback riding program and campers of all ages will also have the opportunity to learn about archeology, geology and navigation while riding through the camp’s extensive grounds. New tree houses in the Eco-Village for camp overnights are planned. Instead of sleeping on the ground, campers will sleep in shelters built into the tree canopies.

One of the main benefits of the Wise Academy Eco-Village program is that it will educate and inspire the entire camp to become a macro eco village. Many areas of the camp rely on energy and water consumption that can be reduced through more efficient use of resources. The staff of the camp’s sustainability program, which is connected directly to the Wise Academy Eco-Village, will look for every opportunity to teach and utilize sustainability techniques.

Resources to initiate the project were donated by the Board of the Isaac Mayer Wise Academy of Dallas, Texas. The Board chose the URJ Greene Family Camp to carry on its legacy and continue to reflect the Jewish values that guided the Academy from its founding in 1996 to its closure in 2006.

The GFC Kibbutz will be the “marquee” occupant of the Eco-Village. The Kibbutz program, now in its 33rd year, currently houses approximately 50 rising 10th grade high school students and 10 staff members per session. Kibbutz housing will be patterned after those in “Bustan Village” at the Reform Movement’s Kibbutz Lotan in Israel. These unique structures are currently in use wherever simple, energy-efficient housing is needed. The Kibbutz Campers will be the primary summer stewards of the GFC zoo, garden, and orchard.

Campers on the Kibbutz are responsible for preparing meals for themselves. Members of the clergy and faculty guide a revolving work-group of Kibbutz campers through the process of creating meals and using products from the garden and orchard. Camp-grown fruits and vegetables are also used in cooking classes for younger campers.