Pine Forest Camps is a family-run business now under the leadership of the third-generation of the Black family.
"As a business devoted to children and young adults there is a special motivation to set a good example in energy efficiency," says Mickey Black, grandson of the original founder. "For years, we operated as we had in the early days, using the same light bulbs, water heaters and swimming pool systems that we had through the ages. Then we became more sensitive to energy use."
Pine Forest Camps operate three camps in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. There is one coed camp, Pine Forest Camp; a girls' camp, Camp Timber Tops; and a boys' camp, Lake Owego Camp, which serve children ages 7 to 17 who can come for three and a half week or seven week sessions, living in cabins with college age counselors.
Black readily acknowledges that part of the original motivation for making changes was financial, and was just "good business." The camps used $60,000 of electricity in 2006 and $150,000 in propane, the price of which has doubled in the past few years. About 30,000 gallons of water is used daily, and much of the food is prepared from cans and cardboard containers which were discarded.
To get assistance and a fresh perspective, Pine Forest Camp contacted the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). A site visit and location audit resulted in a November, 2006 report with recommendations for efficiency improvements in lighting, water heating, pool heating and food refrigeration. As a result of the report, the camps initiated a number of changes for the 2007 camping season.
According to Black, an unexpected benefit of the energy saving campaign came out of informing their clientele and staff of the changes in a camper newsletter. "Camp families have expressed support and loyalty to the camps," Black says. "We believe that some family's choice of Pine Forest Camp has been positively influenced by the energy efficiency program and it has increased business revenues." Black went on the state that campers, counselors and management have all become more sensitive to issues of energy usage. "The goodwill generated by this campaign can not be overestimated," Black adds.
EMAP returned to Pine Forest Camp in March 2008 to make additional suggestions for continuing the energy saving efforts. These include:
Pine Forest Camp has saved nearly $13,000 in annual energy costs as a result of the first year of their energy efficiency program. This is based on a reduction of more than 31,000 kWh of electricity and 4,000 gallons of propane. It represents a reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) of over 50 tons pounds, the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of six homes.
Environmental Management Assistance Program
University of Scranton — Small Business Development Center
Mr. Mickey Black, Owner
185 Pine Forest Camp Road
Greely, PA 18425
Phone: (215) 887-9700