Climate Change Makes It Hard for Campers to Beat the Heat


Jill Laidlaw has been working for 37 years. Camp Cavell A little spot of paradise on Lake Huron in Lexington, Mich. But he saw trouble in heaven: climate change.

Temperatures in Michigan increased by an average of two to three degrees in the last centuryand Ms. Laidlaw said she has seen the effects of this warming in many ways, from warmer days and warmer nights to stronger rainstorms to harmful algal blooms in the region’s lakes and ponds. tick burst. And the increasingly widespread bans, many of which are for outdoor lighting, have even restricted one of the favorite aspects of summer camp, he said: “We’ve had ‘flashlight campfires’ over the past few summers.”

climate changeIt also turns the camp experience upside down, which affects children’s lives in many ways. After more than a year of pandemic isolation and disruption of schools and social lives, 26 million children, often attending day and sleep camps, are ready to return to summer fun. But staff at many of these camps say the effects of climate change – not to mention the ongoing coronavirus measures many camps are grappling with – are making it difficult to provide carefree experiences that past generations have enjoyed.

Rising temperatures, wildfire smoke, changing species ranges and more bring risks and camps are struggling to adapt. With deadly heatwaves like those in the Pacific Northwest, dealing with extreme heat is becoming a must to keep campers safe.

Beating the heat has of course long been part of what makes camping camping, and although the link between any weather event and climate change varies, the effects of global warming are being felt in many ways.

“The fact is, yes, they experience higher temperature days and generally more heat waves and other effects,” said Donald J. Wuebbles, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois. “When it rains, it’s more likely to be a greater rainfall, and when we have a drought, it’s more likely to be a greater drought,” he said.

As a heat dome, it trapped Pacific Northwest residents in record-breaking temperatures causing a sudden increase in heat-related deaths managers last week. Camp Killoqua Stanwood, Wash., made a decision: delay the start of their day camp. The heat, made even more unbearable by the state’s coronavirus requirement, which obliges campers to wear masks, strained their hands.

“We realized that it would be very bad for our campers to be here,” said Cassie Anderson, the camp manager. “We didn’t want to put our kids at risk of getting sick.” But the pause was short-lived; Within a day it had cooled enough and Killoqua reopened.

horse Camp Seal Carrie Lawson, director of summer camp on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, near Seattle, said the effects of climate change are evident. “This year, our county entered a cremation ban before the end of June, the earliest I’ve ever experienced.”

The link between wildfires and climate change is strong: The warming planet is making areas like the West of the Americas hotter and drier, with longer wildfire seasons; last year was the worst season on record for fire activity in California, Washington, and Oregon.

by Dave Jarvis Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp In Hillside, Colo said, bushfires have forced their campers to evacuate twice—once in the past five years—as parents bid their children goodbye. A nearby campground was able to accommodate its campers on both occasions, but the 2011 fire kept everyone off the Rainbow Trail for five weeks.

And for two of the past three years, Ms. Lawson said, “our area has been covered in smoke from wildfires, which makes being outdoors unhealthy and even dangerous.”

When asked how burning bans and flashlight campfires affect camping traditions like making s’mores, Miss Laidlaw of Michigan replied in an email that contained only one image: a jar of Marshmallow Fluff.

It is not only the camp days that have changed; with climate change, the nights don’t get cold. Valerie Wright, general manager of the House in the Wood camp in southeastern Wisconsin, said the fans were sufficient at night to cool both cabins and campers. “We realized that this was no longer the case about 10 years ago” and after a “especially brutal summer” they installed air conditioning in the cabins and significantly increased the cost of camping.

For Julie Kroll, unforeseen circumstances have become a part of life. Camp Caroline Bakery Lutheran Camp and Retreat Headquarters in Fort Valley, Va. He examined the possible effects of climate change on their facilities, and the best-case scenario included taking expensive measures to combat the increase in extreme weather conditions, such as installing air conditioning, increasing insulation, and replacing windows. including floods, blizzards, microbursts and falls. “We’re already seeing all the ‘best-case’ effects and I expect things to keep getting worse,” he wrote in an email.

In an interview, he added that he consulted camp records of backpacking and canoeing and camping outings dating back decades and discovered that climate change and expanding urban sprawl are having a disturbing effect. “Water sources that were reliable in the 90s, are no longer reliable or no longer exist,” he said, adding that “river levels are no longer consistent.”

Coasts are also affected. Fox Island Environmental Education Center, a Virginia institution managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for over 40 years, close in 2019 because soil erosion and sea level rise have destroyed the island’s salt marsh so much that its owners have declared it unsafe.

latest polls reveal it Young people accept the science of climate change much more than older generations, and that’s why they take the classes. Its director, Janice Kerber, said today’s youth are heat and health conscious. Everglades Youth Conservation Camp in Florida; they carry water bottles and use sunscreen. Ms. Kerber, who grew up in Florida, said sunscreen was rare when she was a girl.

He’s been involved with the camp since 1996 and said, “There’s a distinct difference in how hot it is.” In the late 1990s, he said, a heat index of 105 was highly unlikely. Today, “115 heat index is not unheard of”.

Kyle Winkel of the American Camping Association said last year, the coronavirus pandemic had reduced camp enrollments from 26 million to 19.5 million. As this year’s season kicks off, camp managers and counselors will use a variety of techniques developed over the years to deal with the sudden heat.

horse Camp LonghornOutside of Burnet, Texas, the camp’s general manager, Bill Robertson, Texas Robertson, founder and father.

“It’s not hot – it’s summer time!” he said with a knowing smile.

Camp Longhorn has always dealt with high temperatures, as the thermometer can rise above 100 degrees despite the proximity of the refreshing breezes from Inks Lake. A warming planet means paying more attention to what they’ve been doing from the beginning, referring to the procedures and traditions set by its father’s generation, he said.

Longhorn staff keep campers out of the sun from 1am to 4pm. And Mr Robertson says he watches for signs that it’s too hot for challenging outdoor play, such as when “kids aren’t smiling and rushing to their activities.”

Water is everywhere. Sprinklers spray the grass and campers, and there is plenty of activity on the lake. Even in the era before the ubiquitous water bottles, the camp built a multi-mouth water fountain that provided an invigorating but hard-to-control explosion known as “Old Face-filled.”

Many camps are turning climate woes into a learning opportunity – part of their mission to connect children with the natural world. “Since we started in the 1950s, we’ve been trying to educate children and adults about nature and our environment,” said Ms. Kroll of Virginia. Ms. Laidlaw from the Michigan camp also said they teach campers about climate change, adding that she is fed up with political debates about the science of a warming planet.

He has a suggestion for those who would oppose the evidence: “Get out into nature and see the changes.”


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