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3/30/10 The Huffer Environmentalist (Rated PG-13)

Zifi and I put the cards for our Nature Walk out on Monday morning, then led groups of campers on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons. Each day, we had fewer cards than the day before, as they were lost to wind, curiosity, or vandals. (At least one was deliberately moved, and another torn to pieces.)

On one walk, we found that the Make a leaf rubbing card had fallen from the tree we'd tried to tape it to. Moreover, it had landed in a puddle of motor oil, so it was saturated and greasy. Someone had dropped a not-yet-empty bottle of oil, uncapped, so it had poured out. Whether the same person dropped our card into their mess or whether the wind took care of that, we'll never know.

After we retrieved the card, and greasily attempted to re-affix it to the tree, I noticed that one of the kids had picked up the plastic bottle. I was touched that he'd internalized the lesson of decomposition, and that he remembered that plastic bottles take hundreds or thousands of years to break down completely. I leaned over to Zifi and pointed out our little tree hugger.

A few minutes further up the path, I looked back and saw the kid with his nose in the bottle. Either he was checking to see if that noxious odor was really coming from the bottle, or he was huffing. Odds are, it's the latter. I remain hopeful that it's the former.

When we got back to the camp, a few minutes later, I was relieved to see the kid drop the bottle in a trash can. Either he really was trying to clean up the park, a little at a time, or he'd discovered that motor oil may smell awful, and in fact be awful, but it won't get you high.

Either way, he'd learned a valuable lesson, right? :)

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps