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Promote climate change action in the evangelical community through science, outdoors, and faith-based curriculum at summer camps.



According to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2012, although 69% of Americans believe that there is strong scientific evidence for human-induced climate change, only 31% of self-identified white evangelicals would agree. How can we close this gap?

The Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) is comprised of over 300 evangelical leaders and has outlined four fundamental truth regarding climate change and climate change action: (1) “human-induced climate change is real;” (2) “the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest;” (3) “Christian moral convictions demand our response to the climate change problem;” and (4) “the need to act now is urgent. Governments, businesses, churches and individuals all have a role to play in addressing climate change – starting now.”

Working within this established framework, our team will write a curriculum for an adaptable summer camp that will be equal parts faith, science, and fun in a effort to expose the next generation of American evangelicals to the ECI's teachings. While at camp, we want participants to learn about climate change from accredited teachers, interact with their environment, and then realize through prayer, Bible study and faith-based teachings why there is a moral impetus to act now on climate change.

Why Camp Dorsal? As a dorsal fin on a dolphin or shark guides the animal through the water towards its destination, we hope our curriculum can guide the next generation of evangelicals towards climate change activism.


Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change

What actions do you propose?

Camp Dorsal will be a summer camp curriculum that any church can choose to implement in their local established camp. Team Dorsal will outline classes, activities, Bible studies, prayers and outreach efforts that should be implemented. In time, it is also our hope that we will establish a network of evangelical teachers and scientists that are willing to volunteer their time to guest-teach campers about aspects of climate change science. In the meantime, a precise outline of climate change science lessons, classroom activities and experiments will be drawn up in consultation with experts in the field to ensure that any camp across the country can deliver quality education on climate change to their campers.

The faith-based aspect of the camp would be developed on models of current evangelical summer camps and, in consultation with the Evangelical Climate Initiative, would emphasize to campers why there is a moral and religious responsibility to act on climate change. This would be underscored by our international component of Camp Dorsal, which would endeavour to set up pen-pal relationships between campers in the United States and fellow evangelicals across the world in disadvantaged areas dispproprtinately threatened by climate change.

Through out-of-camp excursions or guest visits, Camp Dorsal will expose campers to leaders, activists, volunteers and role models who are taking action on climate change guided by their Christian morals. Team Dorsal hopes to cultivate a nuber of connections from churches, universities, Washington, and in local communities so campers can see how scientists, policymakers, religious leaders and normal people are making a difference.

As Camp Dorsal is a summer camp, outdoors and recreational activities will be a crucial component of the curriculum. Not only are canoeing, arts and crafts, gardening, theatre, flora and fauna identification and hiking fun, they can be extraordinary conduits to realizing the importance of nature when done mindfully. Also, they're fun! Camp Dorsal will place special emphasis on these activities, and encourage cmapers to experience a number of them through the duration of summer camp. In particular, Camp Dorsal will use its arts and crafts program to underscore the relationship between faith, nature and humanity.

All campers' achievments will be showcased at an end-of-camp celebration, so that the lessons they have learned at Dorsal can be shared with their families and extend outside the space of camp.

Who will take these actions?

Team Dorsal will write the curriculum, coordinate guest speakers and teachers, and assist in the camp's implementation.

Team Dorsal intends to reach out to groups like Young Evangelicals for Climate Change Action to recruit camp counselors and Camp Dorsal volunteers.

Established church camps across the country will have this curriculum made available to them through the Evangelical Climate Initiative.

Where will these actions be taken?

At evangelical summer camps across the country.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

Through Camp Dorsal, the population in this country that is least likely to believe that there is strong scientific evidence for human-induced climate change can be reached.

It is Team Dorsal's hope that with the aid of the Evangelical Climate Initiatve and private sponsors, camp costs can be subsidized enough so that parents who are skeptical of climate change will still be inclined to send their children to their area Camp Dorsal. First and foremost, the Camp is a faith-based camp run by evangelicals and operating with a curriculum approved by evangelical leaders. With the combination of legitimacy and low tuition costs, Team Dorsal hopes that there will be high camp enrollment. 

What are the proposal’s costs?

Bloomberg Businessweek estimates that summer camps cost “from $200,000 to $500,000 to set up and maintain," but in this case established evangelical summer camps will bear the burden of implementing Camp Dorsal.

Team Dorsal hope to raise funds from the Evangelical Climate Initiative and local churches to subsidize camp costs, but the curriculum will br provided free of charge to any interested camps.

Time line

The curriculum will likely take 1 year to write and Camp Dorsal's network of teachers, religious leaders and guest visitors the same amount of time to accumulate. At earliest, trial runs of Camp Dorsal could occur in selected areas in the summer of 2014.

Related proposals


Evangelical Climate Initative,

Evangelical Climate Initiative, “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” National Public Radio 2006,

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “Summer Camp Curricula,” at

Karen Klein, “Mapping the Summer Camp Business,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 1 May 2012,

Public Religion Research Institute, “Survey: Climate Change and Evolution in the 2012 Elections,” 22 September 2011,

Young Evangelicals for Climate Change Action,