Throughout history children have spent many of their formative years playing outside. In the past twenty to thirty years, however, this type of activity has been disappearing. "The child playing outside and enjoying the natural environment is an endangered species.” (R. Louv, 2005). Since 1981, Jim and Jean McCarney dreamed of having a camp for children. This dream has taken root in the form of Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center, a nonprofit corporation located at 615 Rock Hollow Road in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania.
Jean McCarney, an elementary and special education teacher, and her husband Jim, a stay at home dad, self employed builder, and small business owner, knew that they wanted to establish a camp for children. They became more aware of the value of providing an environment where children could explore the outdoors, discover and grow as they raised their two sons.
In 2003, Jean’s Place was created and the McCarneys began a small day camp. Janemarie McKay, an elementary and special education teacher and her husband Bill, an educator and school administrator, joined forces with the McCarneys in 2008 to expand opportunities by offering seasonal programs for groups of children to spend a day immersed in environmental activities. Encouraged by the McKays and others, the McCarneys moved forward with even more ambitious plans and in July 2012, they proudly formed a nonprofit organization, Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center.
Today, a dedicated group of volunteers with diverse skills and experience have come together to share their passion for teaching and sharing their love of nature at Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center. Their mission is to provide children with outside opportunities to discover and learn about the natural world and empower them to protect their environment. The organization has a 77-acre site that offers opportunities to wander the woods, stream, meadows, and open spaces as well as enjoy a variety of quality programs, presented by qualified educators and experts.
Their expanding vision includes additional unique, enriching programs for educators, parents, children and the public at large. The McCarneys visited nature preserves and environmental centers around the country over the years and gleaned countless ideas that have become the foundation for the organization’s plans for the future.
A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that children eight to 18 are plugged into some kind of electronic medium for more than 7.5 hours a day and this number continues to grow with each passing year. Richard Louv coined the term "nature-deficit disorder” to describe the lack of nature and free play in the lives of children today. The Center is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization. They are furthering their plans of expansion to inspire people to connect with the natural world, discover its wonders, and become environmental stewards. The Board of Directors invites you to share in their vision by learning more about Rock Hollow Woods and how you can get involved.
Jean McCarney & Michelle Zeitz
Rock Hollow Woods
Environmental Learning Center’s Board of Directors:
Elizabeth Matteo – President
William McKay – Vice President
Michael Nappi – Secretary
Megan Roswick - Treasurer
Ann Dybalski - Director
Jodie Geary - Director
Noel Karasin - Director
James McCarney - Director
Doug Metcalfe - Director
Scott Strum - Director
Honorary Lifetime Board Members
Jean McCarney - Executive Director
Michelle Zeitz - Associate Director