A New Focus On Sustainable Living
Meet Danny Sudman from Green my Team + Green Camps
Article by Kristie Darling
Danny Sudman has taken a critical issue our world faces today, one that is dear to his heart, and put the challenge of finding solutions into action in a big way. His goal is to help change the world for the better…one team, one camp, one camper…at a time. “I’m a problem solver,” Danny says, “and I’m a realist. When I see a situation that I know we can work on, I’ll tackle it.” Thus was the beginning of Green My Team and its partner nonprofit organization, Green Camps.
What is Green My Team All About?
Green My Team is team building and training with a twist. The twist is sustainability. Instilling a heightened awareness of environmental challenges into our community, our workplace, and at home through training programs that put sustainability front and center, Danny and his team change minds and teach actions. People begin to take better care of our planet. “We inspire green behavior in all we do with folks,” Danny explained. “Any organization or corporation can initiate more earth-friendly practices with guidance, information, and the challenge to do better. We provide that in our programs.”
Green behavior is easily explained by looking at training programs Danny offers and the impact his new approach to sustainability has had in our area. For instance, the Iredell County Parks and Recreation department hired Green My Team to work with their staff. Director Michelle Hepler wanted her team, together as a whole, to learn ways to change how they operate and begin implementing practices in their workplace that would positively support the environment. “We learned a lot, including how little things—as simple as always turning off the lights—can make a big difference. We became more attuned to better conservation practices, like reducing waste, in our parks and offices,” she said. "Danny’s program encouraged us to think critically about our ability to make green behavior changes. The discussions we had about sustainability were important, and we felt that the actions we could take to green our organization would be a sustainability model for the community. I’d encourage any business, agency, or organization interested in learning about practical solutions to protect our planet to work with Green My Team."
Sustainability Planning Process
Coming together is the first step in deciding what kind of team you want to be. “For many groups, from high-tech corporations, to factories, healthcare, education, local government, to small businesses, the idea of embracing conservation, energy, recycling, clean air and water, natural products and practices is a pie in the sky idea…Where do we start? It’s too expensive! Why should we change anything?” Danny explained.
“My approach is to begin at the beginning by asking questions and looking at the low hanging fruit…What are you doing already? What resources do you have? A thorough green survey of the organization’s current situation—what works, what doesn’t—is completed. When that list is fleshed out, the team develops their Green Team Guidelines and Sustainability Plan. What criteria do we need to meet and how do we do that? How do we measure success? All this thinking, discussing, learning, and planning leads to a Team Action Plan to get it all done.”
Specific training sessions are offered, as well, such as Composting 101, the Seed Bomb Pollinators Program, Rain Barrels, and more. Each of these trainings helps organizations and businesses better understand how changing to a sustainable model can positively impact the triple bottom line: People-Planet-Profit…you can do it, it does make a difference, and it is very cost-effective.
Green Camps consults with summer camp stakeholders—staff, parents, campers, sponsors—to discover new ways to be greener and teach greener. They work together as a Green Team through a focused process that Danny facilitates to complete a comprehensive certification program in sustainable operations. In developing the Green Camps Certification criteria, Danny partnered with a researcher from the Children’s Nature Network and staff at the US Green Building Council. Danny hears from camp leaders all the time that they have wanted to do this but didn’t know how. Green Camps guides them to success.
Danny founded the nonprofit in 2014. He is now executive director with an engaged advisory board of thought leaders and environmental advocates. “I went to summer camp for 16 years, first as a camper, and then I became a camp counselor, like a lot of kids do,” Danny said with a smile. “Being in nature, in that beautiful environment, really had an impact on me. First, I knew it was critical that we all learn to take better care of our planet. Second, I was 100% convinced that summer camps present the perfect teaching moment to inspire the next generation of eco-leaders. Kids eat this stuff up…they get it.”
More than 14 million kids, teens, and adults go to summer camp every year. Danny, his advisory board members, and operations director, Joanne Zygmunt, take his core ideology and practical approach for teaching sustainability directly into summer camps all around the country. “Summer camps do a great job of putting kids in nature—for some it’s their first experience spending real time outdoors—but we found that a focus on nature sometimes falls apart in daily life at camp itself,” Danny explained. “Everything is connected, and when we can put kids in a summer camp that walks the walk—not just talking the talk about conservation and sustainability—the power of the message is magnified a thousandfold.”
Making A Difference
Camp Wawenock is a girl’s camp in Maine. Staffer Kristy Andrews shared her experience, "Going green can be overwhelming. Working with Green Camps helped us clarify and create future goals for our green practices."
Locally, through working with Green My Team, the Girl Scouts’ Hornets’ Nest Summer Camp began a recycling program. “They started simple, by collecting and recycling plastic cereal containers to use in their crafts program,” Danny said. “Camp Kanuga, in Hendersonville, decided to add three massive solar-heated water tanks in the dining hall and have committed to expanding solar energy use because they have found that solar is cost efficient. Just by being at camp, seeing how solar works, and participating in sustainable futures classes, kids are learning.”
Another example of practical solutions that camps are learning and adopting to run greener, teachable programs is Camp Southern Ground in Georgia. A big theme there is, “…helping to grow more good into the world.” The idea that kids can learn green behaviors by doing, led the camp to create a 40-acre organic garden, tended by campers, that feeds everyone all summer. “When their camp was on hold during 2020, the food was donated to food kitchens,” Danny continued. “They have added an LEED certified dining hall and lodge, with a sustainable building goal of 100 years…all new buildings are designed to last at least that long.”
Danny is a Statesville native. He has a BA in Sociology from NC State, and with that under his belt, he joined the leadership team at an extensive Southern California conservation camp program, Catalina Island Camps. “I managed the challenge course program and became an environmental educator. It was my good fortune, and the experience became a guiding principle in my life, to work alongside Jean Michel Cousteau. I completed the Catalina Environmental Leadership Program there in his Ocean Futures Society.”
Danny is an active member of the American Camp Association and the Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators. His service to the camp community was recognized in 2011 with the Rising Star Award and in 2014 with the Paul Somers Golden Acorn.
Where to Begin
For your business, your team, or your children’s summer camps, Danny Sudman is the go-to expert for bringing sustainable living to life…the right place you can start doing better.