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EE 60th Anniversary Celebration

This fall, we are planning a day of celebration on Saturday, September 30th to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Environmental Education programs at Bradford Woods. You’re invited to join us for an Open House, or for our Celebration Dinner. See details below.

Registration is open!

Did you attend a program at Bradford Woods? We’d love to hear from you! Click here to share your memories and photos of camp with us.

Saturday, September 30

Open House – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Bradford Woods property will be open for visitors. Visitors can hike our trails, tour one of our cabins, and take part in activities, including our cargo net tower, games at the sports pavilion, fishing, and arts and crafts for kids. We’ll also have a history presentation on 60 years of EE programming set up at the dining hall.

Celebration Dinner – 5:30 p.m.

Our celebration dinner will start with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (Big Red Liquors will provide a cash bar), followed by a Buffalo Tro ceremony. The dinner will also serve as a fundraising event for Bradford Woods, and all proceeds will benefit programs at Bradford Woods. After the ceremony is complete, we’ll move inside Baxter Dining Hall for a delicious meal, including samples of the meat cooked directly on the coals (vegetarian options will also be available). Afterwards, we’ll move inside for a special history presentation, guest speakers, and awards ceremony for our school partners, including special recognition for our 60-year school partnerships with Bloomington and Martinsville schools. Seats are limited. Individual tickets are $50, and a table sponsorship is $350 (a table comes with 8 seats).

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Keynote Speaker – Scott Russell Sanders

scottsandersWe’re please to announce that our keynote speaker is Scott Russell Sanders, the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Hunting for Hope and A Conservationist Manifesto. His most recent books are Earth Works: Selected Essays (2012); Divine Animal: A Novel (2014); and a collection of his eco-science fiction stories entitled Dancing in Dreamtime (2016). A new edition of his documentary narrative, Stone Country, co-authored with photographer Jeffrey Wolin, was published earlier this year. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University. He and his wife, Ruth, a biochemist, have reared two children in their hometown of Bloomington, in the hardwood hill country of Indiana’s White River Valley.

The Buffalo Tro

A Bradford Woods tradition dating back decades, the “tro” is inspired by Native Americans of the plains, who, because of a lack of firewood, would celebrate the successful pursuit of a bison by cooking the meat directly on buffalo chip coals. We’ll substitute firewood for our tro, but will still throw the steaks directly on the hot coals. The intense heat of the coals cauterizes the pores in the meat, sealing the juices inside and making for a delicious meal. We’ll have samples of the steaks available as part of the buffet dinner.

A Brief History

In the fall of 1957, elementary students from Bloomington, Indiana attended the first school programs at Bradford Woods. These five-day programs were designed to educate students about the natural environment and local history while learning how to live well with their peers. In addition, the nights spent at Bradford Woods were, for many of the children, the first nights spent away from home; for many, the trip to Bradford Woods became a rite of passage to adulthood.

By 1958, the Martinsville school district was sending students to Bradford Woods for environmental education (EE) day programs, and by 1961, all Martinsville students were attending residential programs. As the years passed, the scope and reach of Bradford Woods programming extended to reach elementary schools from across central Indiana.

Today, we serve nearly between 4,000 and 5,000 fifth graders per year. While much has changed since 1957 (students no longer stay in canvas tents, and the typical stay is three days instead of five), the core goals of the program remain the same as in 1957:

  • Engage students in immersive learning that deepens their understanding of the environmental, historical, and cultural relationships that connect us to our surroundings.
  • Promote respect and stewardship of natural and cultural resources through increased connections and awareness of the environment
  • Provide students with a transformative experience that teaches greater respect for self and others.