Founders Nick, Matt and Alex Markoff combine environmental education with outdoor adventures at Calleva. Photo by Darren S. HigginsCategory: Nonprofit organizations that have significantly incorporated green practices into their culture and operations

Calleva began as an adventure camp about 20 years ago, but has evolved into offering people of all ages recreation programs that promote a love of the outdoors and environmental stewardship.  

Thousands of students participate in the Poolesville nonprofit’s school programs, sometimes held at Calleva’s working farm, where kids learn about environmentally friendly gardening, beekeeping, green building methods, and biodiesel, among other things. Calleva’s group recreational activities on the Potomac River provide lessons in water conservation, erosion and runoff control, helping to demonstrate the importance of sustainable farming to the health of the local ecosystem.

Co-founder Matt Markoff says Calleva’s programs offer several ways for area residents to connect with nature and share the sense of passion and stewardship for the outdoors that prompted him and his brothers, Alex and Nick, to launch a summer camp in the early 1990s.

“Everything we do is based on a love for the environment,” Matt Markoff says. “We’re outdoorsmen. We feel connected.”

Calleva began by offering a twist on the traditional summer camp—taking kids on adventures into Greater Washington’s many state and national parks, rivers and other scenic public lands. Today it emphasizes ecology through its Calleva Leadership School, Growing Green and River Ecology programs. Calleva programs combine environmental education with activities such as surfing, sailing, backpacking and rock climbing. For example, Calleva kayakers, bikers and rock climbers have participated in weed removal and trash pickup around the C&O Canal watershed.


Abby Lubran, deputy program director at Potomac Community Resources Inc., says she’s impressed with Calleva’s dedication to providing programs for all. Her organization, which works with developmentally disabled adults, partners with Calleva on an annual Earth Day cleanup, one of the few area events that provide opportunities for people with disabilities to contribute and feel included, she says.

“They really understand that it takes the whole community to protect the environment,” Lubran says of Calleva.

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