One day with Adam Jackson – Christian eco-camp entrepeneur

Published on: 1 March 2017

Adam Jackson, youth worker st St Stephen's Church, Norwich and founder of Intents Youth Camp outlines an average day of mitigatimg the carbon footprint of the camp held on his parents' Mattishall farm.

The day starts around 8am with breakfast (religiously!). Intents Administrator, Sequoia comes to the office just before 9 and we go through the jobs of the week. This week we’ve been looking at getting a new T-Shirt provider – an ethical clothing manufacturer who knows their supply chain really well, from cotton-plant to delivery, something I’ve wanted to do for years!

After tidying up the bookings (which is provided by a paper-less booking program I built a few years ago) we meet the rest of the team at the farm. It needs to be transformed from a place where animals live, to a worship venue for over 100 kids. I source volunteers from all the places that I do life: Church young adults, local people, website clients and so on. I am really keen on emphasising the need to be resourceful in the way we get all the things we need. I believe there is more community, authenticity and creative beauty when you’ve got to make it, borrow it or think outside the box for solutions.

For example, we needed another venue for a dedicated prayer tent. Instead of simply hiring a marquee for the weekend, I worked with some of the people who come to my  other festival (an eco-building, vegetarian week called “Treehouse Festival” to create a geodesic dome using willow that we were allowed to cut from a biomass farm. We used old water piping and joined the ends to make a large dome covered in second-hand canvas to be our new prayer venue!

At the farm, the media guys have an idea for an amazing stage with huge amounts of lighting and lasers, but we only charge £35 for the whole weekend per young person, and God doesn’t seem to care if it looks like Hillsong or not, and those lights cost their own weight in carbon emissions! So I ask them re-think and they soon bring back drawings of pallets lit by dozens of strings of fairy lights. It looks like the set from a Mumford and Sons music video, and they’ve really caught the vision. I’ve often got a carfull of wood and pallets that are being thrown out and always find ways of creatively recycling them, so now we’ve got materials to get creative and it can nearly always be done using the waste from local businesses!

Most of the Intents campers know me as the man who sorts through the rubbish or the one who talks about the benefits of the compost loos rather than the actual organiser of the event. We have just 10 wheelie bins at Intents, for nearly 200 people over the two weekends. One of my biggest battles is ensuring that we only fill up the bins that we have and as much of that as possible should be recycled. Where we can, I allocate bins for papery materials that can be used for the evening camp fire.

The ‘Honey Cart’ has arrived: my next job. One year I partnered with an international group that equipped young people to create sanitation infrastructure in the third world; so I invited them to spend a weekend at the farm building some eco-compost loos as part of their training. These eco loos are great; they don’t smell like Portaloos, they are more spacious, and generally more ‘fun’. Rather than rotting the contents down for manure on site, we have a nice man (The Honey Cart) who comes with a hose and he sorts it all out.

I pop in to speak to the catering team (my Mum and friends!). Everyone at Intents eats together; this builds community and means people don’t bring in all their food with tons of packaging. The amazing food has been one of the reasons people love Intents. Mum asks me to get rhubarb from the vegetable patch: we grow some of the food we use on site, and the rest is locally sourced.

The main ethos of Intents is for young people to learn about what Jesus has done for them and be able to make a choice to follow him, as well as receive the Holy Spirit. A great passion of mine is that we can do that as a community without needing to sacrifice this amazing land God has given us. Perhaps as well as a connection with the creator, they will also see how easy it is to care for creation.

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