Virtual Camp EarthWays 2020

Virtual Camp EarthWays: July 6–10, 2020!

Campers with solar ovens

Families learned together about what makes a green home and campers learned how to be a young green builder in their community. Activities including videos, outdoor activities, and book recommendations were posted daily online.

Questions? Email Maggie at

Jump to July 6 - Sustainability Jump to July 7 - Materials and Recycling Jump to July 8 - Energy
Jump to July 9 - Sustainable Backyards Jump to July 10 - Getting Around St. Louis


Monday - Sustainability

Welcome to Camp EarthWays! We will be starting the week with a general overview of what sustainability means and a look at how different topics are related to sustainability.


Google Earth Sustainability Tour

You don’t have to look far to find instances of sustainability out in the world. In fact, there are so many great examples in our own community! Join us on a virtual tour of the Garden’s Sustainability features, practices and programs around St. Louis, Missouri. Simply follow the link, click Present, and get ready to learn about the Garden’s amazing spaces.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Goals posterAre you looking for an introduction to what sustainability means? Check out these videos on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The first video is an overview of these goals. The second video highlights work that young people around the world are already doing. The third video gives examples of what you can do today to create a more sustainable world. Check out what the UN is doing in St. Louis by visiting the local chapter’s website.

Outdoor Activity

Now that you know a little about the Sustainable Development Goals, head out into your neighborhood, and see if you can find any examples. Some examples of things you may discover include:

  • A school building – Goal 4: Quality Education
  • Bike lanes or buses – Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Native plants – Goal 15: Life on Land

How many different goals can you find in your neighborhood?

Are you looking for suggestions for how to become more sustainable? Check out the Good Life Goals! These are emoji versions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are a great way to get started on taking action.

Book Recommendations

Picture Book: Greta and the Giants by Zoë Tucker

For Older Campers: Cartoon Guide to the Environment by Larry Gonick

Teens Who Changed the World

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who started a worldwide youth movement in 2018 asking for changes from world leaders on climate policy. Check out her TED Talk to learn more about her story.

Greta Thunberg's TED Talk


Tuesday - Materials and Recycling

Join us in learning about the R’s of managing waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle. Learn how others are taking action and how you can reduce waste in your own home and community.


Recycling is a great way to dispose of waste that cannot be refused, reduced, reused, or repurposed. Samantha from St. Louis City Recycles shares which items can be recycled and which ones really need to be sent to the landfill.

Interview with St. Louis City Recycles

recycling poster

Outdoor Activity

Head outside and help clean up your own neighborhood and parks. Please follow all safety regulations in your area and remember to bring your gloves or trash picker and a trash bag. Cleaning up your community is a great way to keep our neighborhoods and ecosystems healthy.

If you want to contribute to a citizen science project while cleaning, download and use the Marine Debris Tracker. This application lets you mark the type of litter you collect and its location so that scientists can use that data as they study pollution.

Book Recommendation

Picture Book: Choose to Reuse by Lisa Bullard

For Older Campers: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

Teens Who Changed the World

Melati and Isabel Wijsen are two sisters that were determined to stop the use of plastic bags from polluting their island home in Bali, Indonesia. Their activism lead to the island’s commitment to enforce a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018, and in 2019, a bill was instated that completely prohibited the use of Styrofoam, plastic bags, and plastic straws. Check out their TED Talk to learn more about their journey.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen's TED Talk

The Saint Louis Zoo has always taken their commitment to conservation and sustainability very seriously, and one of the ways they have upheld that commitment is by saying #byetobags, a program powered by the Zoo ALIVE Teen Volunteers. Check out #byetobags to learn more about their campaign against the use of plastic bags and how your contribution to the movement could make a big difference!


Wednesday - Energy

Explore how energy and electricity are used around your home. Check out ways to capture solar energy and lower the amount of energy used around the home. Discover how one teen engineered a wind turbine to create clean energy for his village.


solar array

Have you ever wondered how solar panels actually work? Or wanted to know more about their impact on the environment? Check out our interview with Riley Francis, a solar associate at StraightUp Solar, to help answer these questions.

StraightUp Solar Interview

Outdoor Activity

Want to try cooking food outside using energy only from the sun? Join our EarthWays Intern Molly in making your very own solar oven.

Making a Solar Oven

Are you interested in increasing the energy efficiency of your home? Learn how to perform an Energy Audit with our EarthWays Intern Emma! Use this quiz, along with the tools in the video below, to find out how efficient your home is.

Home Energy Audit

Book Recommendations

Picture Book: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Picture Book Edition by William Kamkwamba

For Older Campers: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Young Reader’s Edition by William Kamkwamba

Teens Who Changed the World

When William Kamkwamba was 14-years-old, he built an electricity-producing windmill to help power his family’s home in the country of Malawi. William’s windmill was the first of many different ways he strives to make a difference within communities in need, and subsequent projects have included using solar-powered water pumps to provide his family with clean water and getting involved with malaria prevention. To learn more about his story, check out the videos linked below or take a look at his movie, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, available on Netflix.

William Kamkwamba's TED Talk

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story


Thursday - Sustainable Backyards

How can we make the areas around our homes more sustainable? Check out how you can make your yard and immediate neighborhood a healthier place for people and wildlife by using plants! 


Do you have questions about how to make your backyard more sustainable? Join horticulturist Rebecca Hankins in a tour of her backyard. She shares the many ways that you can turn a backyard into a naturescape that promotes native wildlife.

Naturescaping Your Yard

Outdoor Activity

Storm Water Survey

No Dumping--Drains to Stream signThis at-home stormwater survey will allow you to assess your household’s risk for impacting water quality in your neighborhood. By answering a few different pollution-related questions about things in and around your home, you can help make a difference in your community by learning about the risks and executing solutions to mitigate stormwater and stormwater-related pollution.


I-Tree tools are valuable resources that allow us to explore how trees can improve the environment while demonstrating their value to the world. The MyTree tool in particular is an efficient and easy way to learn about the many benefits trees provide us. Test out the MyTree tool and learn more about how some of your favorite trees sequester carbon dioxide and other forms of pollution, mitigate stormwater, and save you money!

Book Recommendations

Picture Book: Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

For Older Campers: Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

Teens Who Changed the World

In the spring of 2016, students and teachers from Rogers Middle School in Affton, Missouri worked together to create a Pollinator Garden. With the use of social media and school-wide activities oriented around the garden, Rogers Middle School has worked incredibly hard to educate their community on the importance of pollinators. If you’re interested in learning more about their work, check out their Prezi for more information.

Rogers Middle School Garden

Friday - Getting Outside in St. Louis

For our final day of Camp EarthWays, we are taking everything outside! Sustainable cities feature wonderful outdoor spaces and ways to move around them. Take some time to explore the green spaces around St. Louis through books, challenges, and citizen science!


Story Time with the Garden

Story Time with the Garden from the Tales and Trails summer reading program offers a variety of colorful stories that give young readers a chance to explore the world of plants. Check out their YouTube playlist to listen to Missouri Botanical Garden staff read tales about very busy spiders, bug rescuers, ladybug girls, and a ton of other fun, educational stories about plants to fill up your summer days!

Outdoor Activity

iNaturalist Tutorial

iNaturalist is a citizen science app that allows users to map and share observations of biodiversity all across the globe. Watch this webinar put on by the Saint Louis Zoo to learn how to use this unique tool (tutorial begins at the 4-minute mark). iNaturalist does require users to register and it does use location information to collect data. Try Seek to help identify plants and animals without having to create an account. 

Life Outside Challenge

Great Rivers Greenway is the regional parks and trails district connecting St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County through a network of greenways. They are running the Life Outside Challenge that runs from July to September. Click this link to explore activities you can do on the greenways. Once you do 20 out of the 40 activities, you earn a bag full of goodies!

Book Recommendations

Picture Book: Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail

For Older Campers: Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen (A physical copy can be borrowed at your local library)

Teens Who Changed the World

Outdoor Youth Corps

Outdoor Youth Corp participantThe St. Louis Green Teen Alliance is a coalition of different organizations transforming the land and our relationship with it, from sustainable agriculture to habitat restoration to environmental research. Groups like the Outdoor Youth Corps, the NatureWorks crew, and the Science Center’s YES program work with teens on issues of conservation and sustainability with the goal of creating employment pathways for St. Louis youth to explore careers (and passions!) in environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, and related research.

Applications for the Outdoor Youth Corps are open now and close August 3.

Apply here!