The young people of EYE (Environmental Youth Experience) have a passion for our planet. We aim to strengthen the connections between young people and the natural world, while empowering them to lead the way to a more environmentally sustainable future. We provide adventurous and enlightening nature camps and leadership training, and run community projects.
EYE is facilitated by the Centre for Ecological Learning (CEL). CEL gives both young people and adults the chance to experience connection – through interactive and meaningful experiences with and about the natural world.
EYE (Environmental Youth Experience) began in 2007 when a small group of high school students decided to “go bush”, under the mentorship of two of their former teachers. Weekend camps and bushwalks led to a deepening connection to nature…which inspired them to want to do something more. Self-education about urgent environmental issues, plus guidance from inspirational community mentors, soon saw the group evolve into an active environmental youth group. Ever since then, EYE has been helping young people gain knowledge on ecological issues, build leadership skill, and express their creativity, as well as finding their voice and becoming empowered community change agents. Hundreds of young people have participated in EYE camps and events since the first camp in 2007.
In 2011, a group of EYE mentors formed the Centre for Ecological Learning (CEL) in order to take EYE under its wing. One of the keys to EYE’s success has been its successful youth-adult community mentoring system in which adults and young people work together to run camps and community projects. This system began to grow and flourish under CEL as more adult mentors started working with EYE. CEL incorporated as a not-for-profit association, was listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations, and was granted Deductible Gift Recipient status by the ATO. CEL established the Ecological Learning Fund, a Public Fund for the specific purpose of supporting our environmental education objectives.
In 2013, CEL received a grant from NSW Youth Opportunities to run EYE’s “Gen2Gen” leadership and camp program. CEL also began offering workshops and retreats for adults. CEL became a leading member of the Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance (BSLA), a network of 10 local groups who are working towards sustainability, and whose mission is “to work collectively and independently to create a culture of lifelong learning for sustainability and ecological balance”.
We have continued our work with NSW Youth Opportunities with EYE's “Eat the Street” program which saw more young people at nature camps and learning food growing skills in the community. In 2015, the Centre for Ecological Learning Inc became registered on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and was endorsed as a Tax Concession Charity (TCC).
And a bit more about EYE....
Camps are the heart and soul of EYE. Imagine a weekend full of beautiful nature, fun and games with new and old friends, and cool skills like fire making, bushcraft, and camouflage. EYE Senior camps are for anyone in Year 9 and up, and Junior EYE camps for Year 7 and 8. We always welcome new people to our camps – in fact, we save some spots and give discounts for new participants! Also, financial challenges should never prevent anyone from attending an EYE camp. We have a Financial Assistance Fund that anyone can apply for- confidentiality is strictly observed.
EYE offers a range of nature connection focused extra-curricular activities – members have constructed works of public art, participated in countless Landcare working bees, and helped create aCommunity Garden at our local high school. EYE has been running a long term campaign for a “Plastic Bag Free Bellingen”, and is currently involved in a project called “Eat the Street”, creating and maintaining a number of Edible Gardens in the middle of town.