Solar Champion Stories

Solar Savings Increase Scholarships at Camp Glen Brook

A young boy (let's call him Ezra) is attending Camp Glen Brook this summer. He’s never been outside of New York City before and now he’s on a farm in Marlborough, New Hampshire, thanks to Glen Brook’s full scholarship program through a partnership with a worker’s union. But Ezra is having a hard time; the food is so different, he misses his video games, and he has no interest in farming. Mark Stehlik, Executive Director of Camp Glen Brook, takes Ezra over to the garden and suggests they have a snack of the ripe strawberries and snap peas growing there.

"I told him these strawberries were different from ones in the store. As soon as he picked them and ate them he was just immediately elated,” says Mark. “He was beaming. He said he didn’t know you could get food right out of the ground like that. Before he wasn’t interested in any of the farm and now he wants to learn to grow his own food and be in our farm concentration. And it’s my hope that he’ll remember that excitement and empowerment, and the knowledge that he can provide this for himself.”

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Self-Sufficiency In All Areas of Camp

Empowerment is a main focus for Camp Glen Brook, a year-round educational camp rooted in Waldorf traditions and located in the heart of New Hampshire’s Monadnock region. They want to teach kids independence, self-sufficiency, and community building. Started in 1946 by a Waldorf teacher, the camp uses farm-to-table as a backbone; they produce most of the camp’s food on the grounds, source cordwood for heating from their forest, and use a hothouse in the winter to extend their growing season.

glen brook 5.jpg"Electricity is our main import,” says Mark, “so it became important to us to source it here ourselves, and also be able to show people where it comes from and what the scale looks like for this large of a place.”

When the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in 2022, nonprofits became eligible for the Federal Tax Credit, so Camp Glen Brook decided to act. They have signed on to build 192 solar panels, which will produce over 118,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

Lower Utility Bills = More Scholarships

In addition to lowering their carbon footprint, the array will save Camp Glen Brook over $20,000 a year, which they have committed fully to their camper scholarship fund.

glen brook 2.jpg"It’s way more efficient than an endowment," Mark explains. "An endowment funded at this level might give us $8,000 a year but this will be $20,000 all generated by creating clean energy." Camps are expensive, but Mark’s dream is that no camper will be turned away by financial hardship. They currently give away over $100,000 in tuition assistance, including some full scholarships like the one that brought Ezra up from New York City.

“We’re working towards a place where no one’s ability to attend camp is limited by their purchasing power or economic position. It can be such a transformative experience, getting kids to a good, caring camp and showing them new skills and new ways to thrive.” Mark has noticed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children are more dependent on their parents, and getting them into a new environment where they learn self-reliance is needed more than ever.

Hands-On Climate Education

In addition to saving money that will increase camp scholarships, the solar array will also be used for education once the campers arrive. The school groups will take a tour past the solar field to learn about solar energy and see the panels, to give kids a better understanding of how the whole camp works, and how it’s “powered by Glen Brook sunshine.” But similar to ReVision’s own climate education work, Mark knows kids learn best by interacting directly with the solutions. 

glen brook 1.jpg"We have some off-grid cabins that have their own solar panel that can hook up to a deep cycle battery and a light bulb,” Mark says. “The kids have to be involved with it, they have to change its position during the day to keep the generation up. That’s really active participation in generating their electricity and the ongoing involvement brings it all home. ”

In addition to solar, Camp Glen Brook has lowered their carbon footprint by improving their buildings’ insulation and using heat pumps and pellet stoves in place of oil. They’re going to install a passive solar greenhouse to reduce their hothouse’s propane use and are looking to fully transition to electric vehicles in the next five years.

Solar Energy: A Fundraising Win-Win

The solar is also helping Mark fundraise, because it’s so clearly beneficial for the camp and campers.

glen brook 3.jpg"Anyone who cares about the camp or children or planet earth has an interest in supporting this project,” says Mark. "I’ve been blown away: everyone I've asked for support has given more than I've expected. It resonates with people to do something that’s good for the campers, planet and long-term health of the Camp. It’s very clear: the money will support a sustainable Glen Brook and will support getting kids to camp.”

Camp Glen Brook is raising money for both their sustainability endeavors and their Camp Scholarships – if you’re able to donate to help them grow their mission, please do so. Make a Gift to Camp Glen Brook - Camp Glen Brook

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