Thanks to two new grants to the Circle Program, one from the Plymouth Rotary Club and one from the New Hampshire Electric Co-op, a new Phase II collaboration between PAREI (the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative) and Circle will take place in the summer of 2015.
     This will be another opportunity for the energy professionals to develop more advanced educational curriculum and to continue to mentor Circle girls and teens in the exciting field of solar energy. Together, they will complete a lighting assessment at Circle Camp in order to further reduce the camp’s energy footprint and usage. The girls will replace outdated light bulbs with LED bulbs through the NH Saves program. PAREI staff will teach the girls about monitoring their usage in the cabins and explain the net-metering of the camp’s larger solar array which should reduce the previous high cost of heating huge quantities of water for showers.
     “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” will be the Circle Camp mantra during the summer session as the girls learn about eliminating the “phantom load.” The workshops will include two educational sessions and one camp work-day during which the girls will install solar lighting on posts along the camp driveway and pathways. Now if any bears are out at night at Circle Camp, they will at least be visible!  
     Phase II of the renewable energy curriculum will expand on the previous seven-month program called “Lights On!” – funded by a large grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The Circle teens completed four all-day weekend workshops with PAREI – learning about the resources that generate energy; finding out how electricity is created to power devices; and analyzing the dynamics of supply and demand. In small groups, the Circle teens learned how to cut, strip and solder wire; discussed the difference in wire gauges; learned about conductivity and how to read schematics; reviewed how to understand and  read a power bill; and practiced designing a schematic for a solar-powered energy system for Circle Camp.      
     As part of the renewable energy program, the teens and their mentors met with the directors of PAREI at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia. There they took a solar tour of the college’s Energy Lab, played the energy source percentage matching game, analyzed energy usage on a pie chart, discussed commonly used renewable energy vocabulary, and participated in various energy lab demonstrations.
     With the help of professional solar installers and volunteers, the four workshop sessions culminated in the building of small solar photovoltaic lighting systems for each of the Circle Camp cabins – eliminating the need for battery powered lanterns at night. This has saved on the need to constantly replace alkaline batteries -- replacing disposable power with the renewable energy systems the Circle teens created themselves.  In addition to the small solar systems installed in the cabins, a large solar array was installed on the roof of the Circle Camp lodge that will save approximately $1,000 on every summer’s electric bill. 
     At least two of the Circle teens were so enthused about what they had learned that they asked how they could become licensed electricians. The Circle Program provides these educational opportunities in order to fulfill its goal of peaking the girls’ interests in potential careers for “life after high school.” A main objective is to help teens become productive, contributing citizens that possess the skills that will make them attractive candidates to area employers. The new Phase II offering by PAREI will continue hands-on experiential learning so that Circle teens better understand the practical applications for renewable solar energy in their daily lives.