Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Counselor's Video

Hey Campers! Here is the video we played at the final Luncheon. I'm sorry I haven't gotten it up sooner but I've been so busy! We will miss you guys and I hope the rest of your summer is as awesome as creek camp was!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Learning the Herps

Yesterday, we went on our herp hunt, but before we could do it, we had to learn about them. A woman named, April Claus, came to talked to us about the reptiles and amphibians of Pennsylvania. She explained to us that amphibians are very important to the ecosystem because their main prey is keeping burgening insects from over populating.

Originally we were to go looking for Hellbenders in French Creek but the creek had risen too much from the rains the previous night. It was too dangerous for us to look for them. This, however, did mean we had more time to spend learning about them. Some of the animals we learned about were, milksnakes, timber rattlesnake, spring peepers, red-spotted newts and spotted salamanders. The information she gave us was extrememly interesting because not many of us knew about the creatures she told us about. April was also an entertaining as well as knowledgable person and she obviously loved her field. Often she would add jokes to her presentation to make it more interesting.

After we learned about these species came the fun part. She gave us a test using the information we had learned from her lecture, to identify and answer the questions that were asked on the living specimens of several species. We were even allowed to hold the cornsnake and milksnake. The cornsnake was a female that loved to wind herself in knots around your wrists and arms. the milksnake was constantly searching for a place to hide and had to be extracated from one of the boys hoods. The test was also difficult, there were many questions that we had to have been paying attention to answer and the stakes were high. The person who achieved the highest score got a prize. The classes highest score was thirty-five out of thirty-nine. There was a winner out of both boys and girls.

Overall, I had never thought that learning about amphibians and reptiles could be such an interesting and fun experience. I was proved wrong. It was an illuminating prelude to our final adventure for the week: a trip to Bousson, an Allegheny College environmental experimentation center. Though this was one of our final activities, I enjoyed it greatly even though I was starting to feel sadness from the impending departure the next day.

Searching for amphibians and reptiles at Bousson

On Thursday, we went with a herpetologist to go herping, or searching for amphibians and reptiles. It was so much fun! We ended up finding 16 different species of reptiles and amphibians which impressed me a lot! We found 10 different species of salamander, 5 types of toads and frogs, and one snake. All we did to find them were overturn rocks, logs, and look in grass and we found tons of stuff. It was really cool knowing that all these things could live near you, and there are still more things you could find. Plus amphibians are a great way to tell if your streams and rivers are healthy, because they breathe through their skin and any pollutants in the water will kill them. Overall, it was a great time, and probably my favorite part about camp.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fun with football

This week we had a football game with everybody playing for once. The girls would only play if a boy wore a skirt for part of the game so a kid named dave decided to be the biggest man and take one for the team. It was lots of fun and was very funny. The teams were so even the game lasted until dusk.

Fresh From the Vines Farm

Thursday our group went to the farm called Fresh From the Vines. It is a sustainable farm which means that it doesnt use any type of chemicals in producing food. Not even miracle grow. At the farm we saw all sorts of fresh produce that ranged from many types of beans to garlic and onions. Also we met his animals the donkeys, goat, chickens and the alpacas. In his greenhouses he had plastic over the frame for containing heat. We were also abel to sample his food. Then we went to his house and ate lunch.

The Spillway

So we took a little side trip today tooooo the spillway...which was basically like this um cement walkway thing overlooking the water...HOWEVER, the water was filled to max capacity with the ducks were just stepping all over them to get the bread we were throwing. Truthfully, the fish looked like the inferi from Harry Potter 6...yikes...but they enjoyed the bread we gave them and especially enjoyed the Lorax.

Banding Doves

After breakfast this morning we met with Sarah Dippold from the Pennsylvania Game Commission to band doves. The bands are placed on the birds to help identify them and people contact the game commission to give any information they may find. We checked all of the traps and unfortunately the rain persuaded the doves to stay away from the bait. Even though we could not band any birds, Sara talked to us about how the Pennsylvania Game Commission bands other birds like ducks and geese. Although it was cold and raining, we still had a lot of fun enjoying the protected wildlife there.

During the Storms

Last night we spent some time "winding down". To begin with, we set up a game of dodgeball. It turned out to be more fun than I had expected even though we only played for a minute or two. Then we went to go get ice cream at Casey's. This was an interesting experience because about the time we got to the ice cream place it started to storm. We ordered and ate our ice cream before leaving in the van again. We found out rather hysterically that the way to get somewhere around fifteen people into a van really quickly, is to have lighting flashing in the background. As it turned out it took us about a minute and a half to get into the van.
Once we got back to North Village, the dorms where we were staying, we spent a well deserved chill session listening to music, or at least the girls did. This didn't last long though. Soon we started to dance and got a dance party going. It was more fun than I've had in a long time. Most of us enjoyed it greatly, listening to everybody's favorites on the iHome one of the girls brought. One of the campers this week is from Costa Rica and we finally got her to join us and dance. She asked if any of us had salsa music. None of us did so we hijacked our counsellor's computer and found some online. She showed us the salsa and we were all extremely amazed. She was so good at it. We all started to try to copy her. Soon she started to teach us how to do it. We got a regular salsa lesson and then took it upstairs into the dorm hall where we attempted to get the boys to learn too. They were disinclined to aquiest to our request. Oh well, we still had a ton of fun and as a bonus we learned some basic salsa moves.

Unfortunately, we were exhausted this morning but it was worth it. We really did have so much fun and I'm sad that this week it almost over. We've all made such go friends.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Last night after a long day us teenagers decided to unwind and connect with our inner child. How? you ask. SImple a nice new play ground on campus. Some swung on the swings while others slid down the slide. Others decided to "chill out" on a metal spider jungle gym, while some climbed a wall. We all enjoyed this freedom and time to be our true selfs. Amy, the consuler, took videos of funny moments and priceless photos. This short time of freedom really made us enjoy the early evening and will be remember FOREVAA!!~~PETER PAN(pictures will be up shortly.)

Canoe Trip!

Right after we ate breakfast we headed out for our canoe trip in french creek. We loaded all the canoes onto the canoe trailer and picked up the guest speakers. From there we headed to the Wilson chute where we unloaded the canoes, got our life jackets and oars, and carried our boats down to the shore. We took turns getting across the creek where we picked up our canoes and walked them across a little further down the shore to avoid hitting a tree. Then we canoed a little further down the creek and pulled over to look at mussels but there weren't any there so we took a few minutes to skip some rocks. Then we continued our trip down french creek to an island where we docked our canoes and looks for mussels. A specialist in mussels gave and taught us about them. We went and looked for them and found quite a few. We soon continued on and looked at all the animals like bald eagles, mayflies, ceder waxwings, and belted kingfishers. We played eye spy and watched the birds eat the bugs. We finally reached the end of our amazing canoe trip at Shaw's landing and loaded up our canoes once again.

Night Hike

Last night we went on a hike in the woods with our headlamps. We walked and searched vigoursuly and very intently for about 20 minutes before coming upon a suprise... It was an abundance of creek connection T-Shirts!!!! It was cool to finally get one. I really enjoyed the hike and it was really entertaining when Cam scared the spit out of the girls. It was a nice experence.

Watershed Info

Well, we did a lot of things today: we went on our canoe trip and search for freshwater mussels, then we ate our lunch on the banks of French Creek and got a train to blow it's horn at us as it passed.
During our lunch, we met with a man named Brian from the County Conservation District. He had come with us on our canoe trip as a guide. He explained about conservation efforts for the French Creek watershed and taught us about how people could save river banks from pollution and erosion. We learned that a lot of conservation efforts are more that just "saving the planet" but it's also about human relations. To go into conservation, you must also be good at persuading people. We learned that agriculture plays a huge role in both conserving and polluting rivers and streams. People with jobs in conserving watersheds often must work with farmers and convince them to change their ways to newer, more eco-friendly ways. For instance, Brian explain to us that when people first settled the area, they placed their barns in low ground near streams, creeks, and rivers. This was so that their livestock, primarily cows, had access to a continuous water source. To do this, they cleared all the trees along the creek to ease their animals paths. This unfortunatly allowed for the cow and such to defficate and unrinate in the water therefore adding extra nutrients that the stream may or may not have needed. Now the watershed conservationalists, as well as others, are attempting to convince farmers to fence their cows away from water.

Brian also works to rebuild reparian buffers along the sides of creeks. A reparian buffer has trees on it and helps to protect from soil erosion. This shows how important it is to conserve banks.

There's still much more of the week to go and I am very excited to see what the rest of the week brings!!

French Creek Valley

Tim gave a interesting speech about his organization that helps to make riparian buffers. A reparian buffer is an area around a stream that helps to "filter" out all the bad things that could harm the delicate environment of the stream. His organization helps to create these riparian buffers to get rid of the pollutants like excess fertilizer that get into the runoff that gets into the stream by accident. His organization tries to confront streamfront property owners for permission to make these areas. It was interesting hearing about a natural way for the environment to filter out bad chemicals.

Zach`s pets!!

Yesterday Zach brought some of his pets and he showed them to us. They were great, really amazing!! He had two little frogs that were trying to get out of the cage and he also had two little turtles that were so cute! Finally he showed us some salamanders that were also trying to escape from our hands!!

Thanks Zach!!!


After we found our fab creek connections t-shirts at the end of our creepy "through the forest" geocache, it was somewhat dark enough to fall sleepily onto the grass and stare up at the stars. (Thanks to Sarah, we all now know that we were sitting on "aerated" soil, not geese poop...gracias). There were some stargazing wise guys who showed us how to find the North star, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and uuummm Orion's Belt....ppssh show-offs.

Fresh Water Mussels

During our canoe trip down French Creek, we stopped to talk about the fresh water mussels. Jerry Lang, a fresh water mussel expert, talked about the diversity of mussels that make their home in the water. We learned that over 26 different types of fresh water mussels live in the French Creek and there are about 300 species in Pennsylvania (of the 800 in the world). While off to the side of the creek, we waded through the water in search of these interesting creatures. It took a little time, but eventually we found 6-7 living mussles and many more empty shells. It was a lot of fun and was surprisingly exciting for such simple creatures.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


After the rain stopped and the sun started to dry the land, the creekers emerged from North Village. We drove to the Woodcock lake and were instructed by the PA Fish and Boat Comission Guy, who was very helpful and assisted us so we could be ready for tomorrows be adventure!!!! We learned about life jackets and oars, and how to load and unload the canoes. But getting to the fun part. We entered the water and we were off!!! paddling and stearing and learning the ropes and brushing up on our skills. Some excelled greatly and others fell behind. They struggled to fight the mini waves created by the strong winds comming across the water. We went out to the mini island and waited for the "turtles" to catch up. We also posed for some pictures, and splashed each other with the freezing water. But after the build up of the lactic acid in our biceps and triceps we called it a day and loaded the truck and off we went. Peace Ooouuutt Girl scouts


Today Ryan Nageotte gave us a speech related to the different kind of mammals that live in the area near the creek, like beavers, muskrats, minks, deers, weasels... We learned many things related to this animals like what they eat and how many years they can live. It was really interesting!!

Data Sharing and lunch!

After braving the weather, we headed back to our dorms for lunch and a meeting. We had a delicious picnic lunch in the common area of the dorm and the guys played football outside. Once we were done we had a group meeting. We shared all of the data from the past two days of testing and filled out our data table. It was fun but soon it was time to learn how to canoe!

Tree Man

This afternoon, we met a man who speaks "tree".....jealous? PLUS, he even gave us our own "Learn to speak Tree" guides a.k.a "Common Trees of Pennsylvania". Well, technically he didn't "speak" to them in front of us....but we knew he did. He brought us through these super narrow paths, called out the names of nearly EVERYthing we passed, and we, in an overwhelmed fashion, tried to write down the names and keep up with Mr. Brilliant Tree Man. I can speak for the whole group in saying that the "Cucumbertree Magnolia" was pretty much the coolest tree alive....Even the bears know that...and I'm RURLY surprised no one has created Cucumbertree Seed smells nom nom


Well, today we went to the upper stream to perform some more macroinvertebrate test similar to yesterdays test. We once again got the yellow bug nets and danced in water to kick up dirt. As a result, that enabled many creek animals to drifted into the net for us to see and touch. It was absolutely pouring down rain most of the time which at first was a slight bummer, but turned out to be way more fun than a sunny day. Our discoveries weren't as extensive as our first day, but we did find a red newt which I thought was so darn cool. I really enjoyed doing that and the suspense of not knowing what you are going to catch.


Monday evening at about 9 P.M. we went with a biologist to call in some owls. We drove to a nearby cemetary to try and call in some owls with recordings. We had low expectations, but we ended up amazed! Instead of getting one owl or even two, we got four. It was very interesting, the species of owl was called a barred owl, it is one of the more common owls in Meadville. We managed to call in two adults and two of their babies. It was a fascinating experience, and everyone loved it.

Fun in the Rain!

This morning, we went out to test and study the chemicals in the creek. After we got to the sight it started raining really hard. However, we got out our kits and studied upstream of the Woodcock Dam. Our group studied temperature, ph levels, turbidity, and dissolved oxeygen (among other things). We obtained these results so we can compare them to downstream of the dam. The results will be in soon and the cold will definetly worth it.

Barred Owl Family

From last week's information, we didn't expect much. Maybe it was lowered expectations that caused our owl hunt to be so successful. We went out with a local birdwatcher and professor at Allegheny College, Dr. Mumme. His idea was to go to a graveyard in Meadville and go looking for owls. In Pennsylvania, there are seven species of owls that are either native there or are present during their breeding seasons. The most commom are the Barred Owls, Great-Horned Owls and Eastern Screech Owls. Some other owls present during their breeding seasons are the Saw-Whet, Long-eared, Short-eared and Barn Owl. Probaly the most common owls to see are the Barred Owls and Screech owls.

Dr. Mumme, pronouced like "Mummy", took us to a huge ravine in the graveyard and took out a radio. At first I wasn;t sure what to expect; Dr. Mumme was obviously very knowledgeable in the field of birds. He explained to us about the calls of the different owls and even demonstrated some himself. His calls were amazingly accurate, no doubt he was practiced. After though, he took out a radio with calls of the three most common and began to play them.

We had just about given up when out of the blackness of the ravine there came the call of a Barred Owl. We couldn't believe it. At first we thought it was a dog, but suddenly the sound came from the tree directly overhead. We all turned on our headlamps and didi our best to spot the owl. We saw the owl fly back into the ravine and heard it call. To our amazment another call answered it. Suddenly we began to here the sound of two owls, presumably a male and a female, making the calls that signaled their familiarity. Both owls presented themselves to us briefly, and then one vanished. We didn't see it again. After the one owl had left we began to hear high pitched squealing shrieks that Dr. Mumme quickly identified as the calls of Juvinilles.

Instead of seeing just one owls that night, we managed to find and entire family. In all, there were four owls, two juvinilles and two adults. This was more than we would have ever anticipated or asked for. It was one of the most amazing, eerie, and, magical times I've ever spent in a cemetary. (also one of the few.)

I can't wait for the rest of the week!!! I personally hope that everything we do is everybit as exciting and intriguing as this.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Our first activity on Sunday after our first meal on campus was GPS. That is Global Positioning System, for all you not-so-up-to-date-in-the-technology-field-readers. First we had to locate satellites so we could learn all about the device and get on with our hunt. We had some difficulties at first but they were soon solved once we were broken up into groups and given our first positions. We were off!!! A race against time and our fellow campers. Who could get to our designated positions find the next clue and in the end find our prise. We had to navigate through the campus on a not so formal tour and try to crack the code. It took skill, determination, eagle eyes, and some pretty comfy shoes. Zach's/Jill's group came in first and found their prize, aka our cool Allegheny drawstring, fieldbook, which had everything we needed to be a great camper. all in all it was a fun way to see the beauty of the campus and get some good old fashion exercise. "now i gotta goo WARSHH the cow smell off of me!"

Creek Chemical Testing...Mwuahaha

Soooo, this morning was basically the first day we started our chemical and biological analysis of Woodcock creek, eeehhum BELOW Woodcock Dam. (Tomorrow we test ABOVE Woodcock Dam). The table next to the creek was covered with lots of magically delicious boxes (actually no, I don't advise eating them), that held all sorts of tests. BASICally (pun intended), we tested pH, temperature, Total Dissolved Solids, Turbidity, Dissolved Oxygen, Alkalinity, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus. They were "muy divertido" and I'm sure we all felt like legit scientists.....maybe.

Fun on the Stream Table

On monday our group went to the geology building to check out a model of a creek on a stream table. We learned about the progression of streams and some critical components of real life creeks. After the educational time we spent around an hour constructing and demolishing dams in the stream table. At the end we built one big dam across the entire table and held lots of water. It worked great for a little until it collapsed. We got wet and dirty but had lots of fun!


When we were in the downstream we were supposed to use a net and go to the creek so we could get different kind of animals and identified them. It was really interesting and we could see many species like aquatic sowbugs and blackfly larvae!!

We had a great time doing this activity!!!


After arriving at creek camp, my eight fellow campers and I unpacked all of our bags, got our information packets, said good bye to our parents, and began our great adventure. We all gathered in a near by field to meet everyone. We tossed two balls around to learn each others names. After that we went to dinner and set off to do the rest of the days activities!

Under the Bridge

After breakfast bright and early, Zach and Amy led us down to a small creek on campus because we finished up breakfast quickly. When we got down there we searched for a couple a salomanders and found a couple with some crayfish. It was pretty exciting to be able to find creek animals so quickly. Zach was awesome at catching manders, and was teaching us how when we had to go. I really enjoyed burning some extra minutes catching some animals. It was loads of fun.

A Trip to the Farm

Well, today was a first full day of Creek Camp, and our schedule was jam-packed! We went hunting for macros and played with the stream table, (SOOOO much fun!!) but there's more to read about that in other posts. This post is about our trip to the dairy farm.

Well our dairy farm tour was taken backwards today because they had a problem in the milking barn. We got our picture on the huge tractor first. Next, we made our way to the calves. There were several calves all separated by their ages. The youngest would suckle on your fingers if you offered them the opportunity and they were VERY cute! (but who doesn't find baby animals cute?)
After that, we visited the dairy cows that were waiting to be milked. It stunk really badly but we learn a lot. For example, we learned that the cows are always pregnant because otherwise their milk would dry up. We also learned about what they feed the cows, (fermented corn and hay). Lastly, we visited their cow "maternity ward". Most of the pregnant cows stay out in the pasture until they are ready to calf; then they bring them into the barn and monitor them until they give birth.

Overall, it was an enlightening and interesting experience, however I don't think you'll find me, or any of the other campers, wanting to have a dairy farm in the future.

Can't wait for the rest of the week!!


Hey Campers!

I have posted your Super Special Secret Mystery Surprise for you to view whenever you like! I hope you all had an amazing time at camp. I know the rest of the counselors and I enjoyed the week! Keep in touch!


Friday, July 17, 2009


Thursday we went looking for hellbenders and mudpuppies in French Creek. Some of us snorkled to lift the huge flat rocks that they hide under. You have to grab them behind the head and get them into the net or bucket. Then we get them into a pvc pipe to keep them straight while we measure them. Two hellbenders that we got were 50cm!!!

Later that night we went to Bousson and got TONS of smaller salamanders from flipping over smaller rocks and logs in the stream. We got a few frogs too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

night hike geocache

wednesday night we went geocaching. because it was dark, to do this one you had to shine your flashlight on reflective stickers set on a trail leading to a 4-stickered tree, which was the last one. the prize was creek camp shirts and gummy worms and gators.

Dove Banding

This morning at creek camp, Sarah Dippold from the PA Game Commission took us to catch and

tag doves to monitor them. She set bird traps this morning and we would sneek up on them in small groups and store them in gym bags which would hold them until we could properly tag and release them with small bands on their right leg.

Vines Farm

Today we went to Vines Farm and learned about substainable farms. We got to see two donkeys, a goat, and a bunch of free range chickens. After having a tour of the farm, we ate lunch there. We had super yummy wraps and some amazing cookies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Watershed Info.

During our picnic lunch today after our canoe trip, Brian Pilarcik from the Crawford County Conservation District spoke to us about the French Creek Watershed and explained to us why it is so diverse. They monitor the water constantly and work with farmers in the area to minimize any runoff that would enter the stream. He often speaks to groups about the stream and informs them about ways that they can help protect it so that it stays populated with many clean-freshwater species such as the muscles that filter the creek.

Using our mussels

On our canoe trip, Jerry Lang talked to us about fresh water mussels and how the effect they the French Creek watershed. They are nature's filters. After he told us about mussel he sent us off to find some.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PA Trees

Today we went to the Woodcock Natural Center and Mr. Tim Taylor explained us a lot about Pennsylvania's types of trees. Mr. Taylor explained us how trees develop in the forests and how important they are for the rest of living things.

The Dairy Farm

Today, we enjoyed our day going to the Hamilton's Dairy Farm. It was pretty funny, it smelled so weird, but we learned important aspects about farming. We watched cows being milk. We petted the calves and they sucked our hands! We learned how difficult is to run a farm, and its impacts in the creek.


Today we learned about canoeing. To start, Chad from the PA fish&boat commision gave us a presentation on life preservers. He also taught us different canoeing techniques. Then we got to practice for a while.


Today at creek camp, i searched for and found my first real geocache with my fellow campers. We did this by typing the coordinates of the geocache into our gps and hiking into the woods to find it. The contents were in an old ammunition box and we all deposited something small into it to show that we had found it. This was one of many geocaches in the world and hopefully someday i can find another one with my younger siblings.


Ryan Nageotte gave us a speach about mamals near the creek!
He talked about animals sucha as beaver, muskrats, minks, weasels, river otters, racoons, bobcats, foxes and coyotes!

Owl hunting!

We went on a night hike with Dr. Mumme in search of owls. Sadly while we were hiking we didn't find any owls. So instead of wasting a perfect evening, we looked at the beautiful stars. The moment we got back to the dorms, something ironic happened. In the distince, we heard an owl hoot. So we walked acrossed the street and check in the woods for signs of an owl. Sure enough when Dr. Mumme let out a recording of a Barred owl hoot, we got a response. Using the recording, the owl was lured closer to our group. We all got to see him. He sat in a tree about ten feet away from our group. It was so cool and we all had a great end to our first full day.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Upstream in woodcock creek we went electrofishing, which is when 2 guys from the fish and boat commision came with ghostbuster-pack-looking things on their back and stuck metal detector looking things in the water that stunned the animals in the water. they would become temporarily paralyzed so we could catch them. we identified many kinds of fish. we also caught a footlong mudpuppy, an aquatic salamander.

The Lorax

Our friend the Lorax