Welcome Spring! A Reflection On Our Cardinal Elements
The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring, the refreshing season we crave after hibernating through winter. During the equinox, the length of daylight and darkness are almost equal; a moment of balance amid fluctuating temperatures. We’ve seen signs of spring sprouting around the wild, from thawing falls to chirping birds and early buds preparing to bloom.
As nature-lovers, we’re grateful for each seasons’ gifts, but spring is perhaps most exciting of all because glamping season begins! We’re given 1 more hour of afternoon daylight to explore the wild, to bask in sunlight, and to build new memories in the great outdoors. We welcome spring with open arms, eager to pitch camp and gather around our sacred fire circle - and chomping at the bit to taste our first fire-roasted s’mores of the year!
On this equinox, we’re reflecting on the cardinal elements we established when we opened Firelight Camps in 2014. We revisit these elements prior to pitching camp each season to ground us in our mission and align us with the gifts of the natural world. Our guests, team, and community have embodied each element throughout our past five seasons, enabling our camp to thrive. With our 6th glamping season just around the corner, we continue to bridge the growing gap between humans and nature through our commitment to protecting the wild and its many gifts.
Land Stewardship: In every facet of our daily operations, we aim to nurture and fortify the land. In particular, we strive to mitigate waste, which for any campground or destination is a unavoidable by-product of hosting guests, running a bar or serving food. So we created a waste disposal and compost system located directly outside of our lobby tent, where we serve locally-sourced breakfasts in the morning and drinks from our bar in the evening. The system can be confusing to guests at first, but it’s essential for sustainability. We use clear signage for each type of waste with examples of the products that fall into each category, like food scraps in compost or cans in recycling. Our campers acclimate to the system quickly enabling us to manage waste responsibly.
Local Culture: We often describe Ithaca as our urban oasis. A thriving downtown scene, with more restaurants per capita than New York City, is just minutes away from magnificent waterfalls and gorges. Whenever possible, we infuse our glampground with the gifts of the region - from craft beverages created by Finger Lakes micro-producers to campfire snacks batched by local bakeries. Some of our most cherished nights at camp are when we host Firelight Live featuring local musicians who treat our guests and the local community to fireside live music. The events are open to the community so both locals and guests can mingle and celebrate all that the region has to offer.
Connection: Gathering around a fire is a primal experience; the origin of storytelling and community. After starting and stoking 900 campfires over the past five seasons, we’ve seen first-hand the restorative magic of our fire circle. During the day, our campers venture out to local trails, parks, wineries or into town and when they end their day around the fire, they share their adventures with each other, describing how they connected with nature and the region. It’s a sacred time for stargazing and s’more roasting when guests can reconnect with each other, and of course with the great outdoors.
Immersion: Our camp’s backyard is Buttermilk Falls, an 811-acre state park with wooded trails, a natural pool, and cascading gorges. Campers can actually see the trails to the upper park from some of our tents. Immersed in the woods, we want our campers to bask in the raw beauty of the wild. Each tent has a private tented balcony furnished with cozy rocking chairs and a small table to rest a cup of campfire coffee while savoring a book or journaling about the sights, sounds, feel and flavor of nature. This immersion enables campers to truly unplug from the digital world and the demands of their daily routine; to breathe in the crisp air while sleeping under the stars in the most comfortable way possible.
As our glampground evolves each season, our founding cardinal elements remain in alignment with the experience we offer guests. Renewing and deepening our guests’ connection to nature is our mission and life’s work, so here’s to another season in the great outdoors!