In 2007, Jocelyn Palm, Director of Glen Bernard Camp (GBC), Ontario, received CCA/ACC’s highest award, The Ron Johnstone Lifetime Achievement Award, for her considerable contribution to camping in Ontario and across the country. But Joc does not rest on her laurels. In 2009, she completed a Living Lightly Lab, a sustainable building on her camp property, to teach campers and students how to care for our environment. Her campsite demonstrates her commitment to living lightly: composting toilets replace flush toilets to save many thousands of litres of water, solar hot water provides showers and solar power generates electricity to the various buildings.
In 2010, Joc initiated another impressive environmental project when she purchased a former church building in Sundridge, Ontario.
With few parishioners remaining and insufficient funds to maintain the building, a For Sale sign appeared on St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Main Street in Sundridge, a village on the shore of Lake Bernard opposite GBC. The camp had a coincidental tie to the church. The original building, built in 1888, burned to the ground in 1960, and Mary S. Edgar, GBC’s founder and director at the time, provided much of the funding to rebuild that same year. By purchasing the church, Joc combined Miss Edgar’s legacy to support the local community and her own passion for the environment in a project to celebrate GBC’s 90th anniversary in 2011. Joc’s vision is to convert the church building into a new Eco-Education Centre (working title). The centre will continue to increase eco-tourism in the area and put sustainable ideas into action.
A new, four-lane highway, connecting Huntsville to the south and North Bay, will open soon and bypass Sundridge to the west. The community will need unique features in order to attract future visitors. She is well aware that an important component in preserving the sparking waters of Lake Bernard for locals, visitors and Glen Bernard campers is having the area’s residents take action.
An invitation to members of the community to a consultation meeting on April 9, 2010 attracted forty interested citizens representing health, business, education and community services. The enthusiastic group shared thoughts about ways in which the eco-center’s activities could benefit the town’s residents and business owners. The first priority is to make the building fully accessible and more energy efficient. Further plans will incorporate community and education programs in keeping with GBC’s mission to live lightly on the earth.