YMCA Camp Seymour’s Environmental Ethic Statement:

"Through education and actions, YMCA Camp Seymour strives to inspire and empower every camp participant to make environmentally sound choices today and every day. Responsible choices for future generations."

Living Machine™ 
YMCA Camp Seymour installed Washington’s largest Living Machine in 2003. The Living Machine™ is an onsite sewage treatment facility that treats effluent to a level that allows water reuse in a fish pond and for irrigation. The most visible part of the treatment facility is a greenhouse, where plants and other living organisms – housed in six aerobic hydroponic tanks – treat camp’s wastewater. The final processing happens in a wetland just outside the greenhouse. The Living Machine is essentially its own ecosystem, accelerating nature’s water purification process!

This visible demonstration of functional and sustainable systems provides a living classroom of alternative ways to treat waste and reuse resources. Camp’s Outdoor and Environmental Education program incorporates concepts of sustainability into its curriculum. As a result, more than 9,000 school children, parents, and teachers who visit camp annually have the opportunity to learn first-hand how sustainable systems can work cooperatively with nature to produce useful end products.

In June of 2014, EnviroStars Cooperative awarded YMCA Camp Seymour a four-star rating for our environmentally responsible practices. EnviroStars (sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department) recognizes businesses by awarding them a two-to-five star rating based on environmental performance criteria such as management of hazardous materials and working towards pollution prevention. Our commitment to these practices is a commitment to our community to eliminate, reduce, and recycle hazardous wastes and toxic materials. 


Camp has a vermicomposting bin where red wiggler worms eat up to 300 pounds a week of fruit and vegetable scraps from the dining hall and turn it into a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. At the end of every meal during the Outdoor and Environmental Education program, staff collect, weigh, and announce to the kids how many pounds of compost were collected. All of the compost is taken to the vermicomposting system in the Living Machine where campers and staff add the compost to the system, turn the compost, add dry material, and harvest the worm castings (the nutrient- rich organic fertilizer). The castings from the worms are used as a soil amendment in camp’s organic garden.

In the summer, campers have the opportunity to participate in a garden and farm “camptivity” each day for a week. During the week, the kids have a chance to eat fresh organic produce from the onsite garden, grown using the worm casting compost, made from the fruits and vegetables from earlier in the year! It all comes full circle!


Reclaimed Chicken Coop with a Living Roof 
In 2012, we repurposed camp’s old water tank into a demonstration chicken coop to educate kids about growing food (eggs) in an environmentally friendly way. Our maintenance staff installed windows from some of camp’s old cabins and created a luxurious, roomy, and fully functional round chicken coop. We established a living roof on top of the coop with different varieties of plants growing on it to provide a habitat for birds and insects, alike as well as providing insulation for the coop!