Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Final Word

We're so sad to see you Creekers go! We had such an amazing time and wish we could do it all again. From geocaching to the time you all bravely stood up and gave your final presentation, each of you made us laugh and enjoy our time being your counselors. Don't forget to let your friends all know about your experience and encourage them to sign up for our camps next summer too! Also, if you want to keep in touch with Creek Connections or have any questions for us, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! We hope to hear from you all soon!

- Your Doting Counselors.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lucky Owls

     The day came! We were supposed to go to looking for owls on Monday night and we were all very disappointed in not going because we were all very excited, but believe me the waiting was worth it! Today we finally went looking for owls and we were really lucky! Laura told us that the camp session from last week had a lot of trouble looking for owls and let me let you how lucky we were. So we went in our creek van to drove around the Allegheny neighborhood and stopped in front of a house surrounded by the woods, we got out of the van, we turn on the recorded turn on the owl song that imitated their sound and in less then 10 seconds we found an owl! It was really excited, but the poor owl was being chased my the robins that didn't like him, poor thing. After that we went by the bridge in campus and we found 3 owls in less than 30 seconds! It was incredible! 

That is us looking for owls

The first owl that we saw :O

The second owl that we saw by the Allegheny bridge

Surviving the MINES!

Miranda from Jennings Environmental Education Center came to talk to us the other day about the good 'ol mining days and the negative impact abandoned mine drainage can have on streams. We even played a interactive board game where we were the game pieces! In the game we all tried to survive the mine. I sadly didn't. Evan even got to put on all the old mining gear, which was pretty funny. Then Miranda gave us water samples from the stream in Jennings to test. It turned out that one was much better than the other. Both samples were actually from Jennings, and both were affected by abandoned mine drainage but the healthy sample had been put through Jennings Eco-friendly filtration system. With their system, they use all natural earth friendly means of filtering the water, and it has been proved highly effective. It was cool to get to listen to Miranda explain the life of miners and about Jenning's filteration system!

Some more Herp Hunting

As my fellows creek camper mentioned , today we went herp hunting at the Bousson Preserve. It was a really interesting experience and we all learned a lot from it as we had to find and identify different species of salamanders, snakes and frogs. Here are some pictures from the activity

Stars, Stars, Stars!

Professor Lombardi, was the man who led us on a great journey into space. We began by entering the planetarium to a dark and mysterious room with a dome as a roof. We began our journey talking about stars, constellations, and black holes. We discussed these in detail and then the lights dimmed. He then turned on the star projector and let our minds wander. It was really beautiful, and will remain with me for the rest of my life. Signing off for Creek Camp Session II 2013
Stay frosty campers.

Herp Hunt!

    Today we went HERP HUNTING! What? Yeah that is the same thing that I said.What is herp hunting, well herp means crawling creators in greek. Before we went to look for crawling creatures we had a small presentation from a herpetologist, she studies reptiles and amphibians and she was nice enough to share her knowledge with us. We learned a few types of salamanders, snakes and frogs that we might encounter during our trip to the woods. After she talked to us we also had the opportunity to touch her snakes and turtles and feed them which was pretty cool. 
   Then we finally went to the woods and looked for little salamanders and frogs along the woods. This was really fun! This was the first time that I did this and I didn't know it was that simple to find salamanders. You just have to carefully look under a rock or long near a stream. Okay, well it's not that simple, you have to be in the right place but that is the general idea of it. 

Heather feeding a turtle!

Northern Red Salamander

Campers Canoeing

We got to go canoeing today! This time we went to Pymatuning Lake because the French Creek was too high.The weather was a little cold but it turned out to be a very nice morning. Mr. Brian Pelargic was our guide and he led us all over the lake. He even told us about the history of the lake! After we explored the creek, we went to the island on the lake. On our way there, we found out that water bottles Don't float and that lily pads can be made into hats! At the island we stopped and swam for a little. It was a lot of fun! Afterwords we headed back to the shore and ate lunch. We also relaxed and laid in the sun. Although our arms were a little tired, we had a great time!

Carr Garden

When we went to Carr Garden, Beth Choate met us and introduced herself. After a few games, she split us up into pairs and gave each pair a map of the garden. Our task was to try to find our way around the garden and attempt to identify each vegetable planted in the raised beds. After guessing and checking our answers, she explained a little about the compost bin in the garden. Then, we got to harvest the beets. After explaining about where to cut the vegetable off from the stem, she put a few of us in charge of harvesting, a few of us in charge of cutting, and a few of us in charge of putting the stems and leaves into the compost bin.

Herp Hunting Continued

As my fellow creek camper said, today we went her

Bugs and More Bugs

With our resident expert Dani we looked at bugs. We used a technique called swing netting, and you guys aren't basic so I'm not going to explain that for you. But we caught so many different bugs! After we caught bugs we popped into a science building and looked at a bug collection. It was pretty intense how cool some of the bugs were. A few of the bugs were even from Costa Rica just like Camila and Selene.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swimming with the Crayfish, Snails, and More!

Today we got to have a little break from the creek tests. We got to swim in the French Creek! The water was cold and the current a little fast, but, it was a lot of fun. Along with swimming, we also looked for different organisms in the river, under the rocks. We found little bugs called whirligigs, crayfish, snails, and more. We even caught some mussels! Along with exploring, we also played in the water. We  played games and even floated down the river. It was really neat and fun!

Canoeing, it takes skill!

       We did it! The activity that all the campers where waiting for was canoeing and today we got to put our skills into practice. This morning we drove to the dam and met up with Chad Foster. He gave us instructions on how to properly use a canoe, but first we had to learn the safety, such as life vest. This was very interesting because he showed us the 4 different types of life vest that there were and I didn't know that i just thought that there was only one type of life vest. For canoeing we use the type 3, which was a comfortable as far as life vest go. Then we learned how to know which paddle was the right one for us. Mr.Foster said that it could be anywhere in the range between our shoulders and our nose, but I like to think of it as our counselor Will told me, "If it look this a mustache it's a good size." After we had our life vest and our paddles, we where ready to get our canoes and go down to the water to start canoe. To be honest I though that carrying a canoe was easy, but I was wrong, it was a little bit heavy and neither my partner or I were strong so it was kind of difficult. The we slowly go into the canoe by following the instruction we were given and we started to paddle. 
     Well paddling was not hard, but the hardest thing was to keep the canoe to go straight. Our canoe would always go too much to the right or too much to the left. but overall it was fun and it was similar to a kayak. We are all hoping it stops raining because there are flood all over the Pittsburgh state and we really want to go out into the river and canoe in French Creek. Let cross our fingers and hope it doesn't rain anymore and it  there is a nice sunny day tomorrow!wwwwwww

Here we are listening to Chad Foster give us instructions. 

Nos this is us with our life vest and we are learning about the paddles!

Putting the canoes in the water!

Finally in the water!
Let's hope we are able to put are new skills into practice tomorrow! 

Lunch at Eddie's Footlong Hot Dogs

After a great moring of canoe training on Woodcock Lake we had lunch in a local place called "Eddie's Footlong Hot Dogs". As the name of the joint suggests we had some footlong hot dogs with all kinds of toppings that we could choose from. I decided to have a plain hotdog only with ketchup on it, accompanied by some great french fries. After lunch we went to an ice cream  place right across the street from the Hot Dog joint  called " Casey's". There were an incredible different types of flavors that we could choose from. Overall we had a delicious lunch and spent a nice time all together!

Water Chemistry Upstream

Yesterday morning, we, Creek Campers, went to the upstream to do some water chemistry. We conducted the same tests on the water that we did downstream, so that we could compare the results. We tested for PH,  total dissolved solids, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, nitrogen and phosphorous. We collected the  data in order to compare it to the data collected downstream and see what water is more healthy relative to its location to the dam. For each single water test we had different kits with different intructions to follow. We found out that the temperature downstream and upstream were very close 23 and 24 degrees Celsius. Many other chemical parameters such as pH and alkalinity were really close as well. Others instead such as turbidity and total dissolved solids differed slightly between the water samples collected upstream and downstream. Compared to Monday morning when we first did the test downstream,  it took us less time as we had already gotten to know the test kits and most of us already knew the steps to follow to test for the chemical parameters. 
Yesterday we used the nets to ensnare various macro-invertebrates so that we can compare the estimated water quality/cleanliness of the upstream water to the quality of the downstream water. We estimated the cleanliness of the water by referring to the macro-invertebrates and their pollution intolerance.

Penn's Woods Exploring

After an exciting morning of electrofishing with the DNR, we headed over to learn about different trees and to do some core drilling with Stacia-Fe, a student at Allegheny College. We paired together and set out into the woods to pick out a few trees to sample. We then completed sampling two different trees and returned back to the pavilion to review our tree core samples! We have to leave for a canoe trip!

Bat Watching

Last night, we went out and tried to find flying bats. Before we did that Terry, the bat expert, showed us a few types of bats and where they like to live. Also so of the things they like to eat and how big their wingspan is. When he FINALLY opened the bat boxes we saw and heard at least 60 bats. As it got lster they bats were getting more active but still not getting out of the box. So Terry raised the box high enough so that they all cam rushing out in groups of three. That was a fun filled night.It was totally worth the bug bites!!  


I was the best bucket holder the world had ever seen. I looked like a dime and a half. Two of the Pennsylvania DEP agents came to Woodcock and showed everyone how to electrofish. It is a pretty simple process. You shock the fish into submission then catch them in a net. The great diversity found in the fish we caught was an indicator of the health of Woodcock creek. We caught over 10 diferent species of fish!! We even played a game of fish bingo. Andrew won.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Giant Sandbox and Geology Fun!!!

So today's geology activity was supaaaaa fun! We got to go into the basement of the geology building and interact with a stream table (aka, the most awesome sandbox ever). Despite all of our goofing off, we actually learned a lot about how a stream flows in nature. We then labeled and identified many properties of a stream. We identified where erosion was present in the stream, where noticeable terraces were located, and where meanders or bends in the stream could be found. Of course there was time for fun too! We all built a pretty sturdy dam, and by sturdy I mean it lasted for MORE than three minuets. The sand throwing was also real nice, and plenty of dirty shirts came out of that. Dan and I even successfully built a waterfall, not the prettiest one might I add, but still impressive. After all the stream table fun, we were able to look at a seismometer, which Sam so kindly showed us! It was really cool to actually see how a seismometer tracks disturbances on the earth. Overall it was a great activity and a great day! I can't wait until tomorrow!

It is Summer! But look! Tests!

Today, the eight members of the group ventured out to Woodcock Creek to do some testing. These tests were used to determine different levels of certain things in the creek's water. Some of the things tested were: Temperature, pH, Total dissolved solids, Turbidity, Oxygen levels, Nitrogen and Phosphorous. All of these tests were done in the rain! All things are well here at Allegheny and I can not wait for the rest of the week! More to come this week from the creek! AMDG

The River of Macros!

This morning we got to search for Macroinvertebrates! What are macroinvertebrates? Don't worry, I didn't have much of an idea either. They are animals, without a spine, that you can see, and it is in the water. They are very diverse and can range from crayfish to Caddisfly larva. The first thing we did was collect the macroinvertebrates. We got into groups, got a yellow net with two poles on the end, and stepped into the water. The water wasn't too cold, but the current was really strong! It was difficult to hold to net. After we got into the water, we had to gather rocks that were VERY slimy and put them on the bottom of the net. Next, we danced in the water in order to bring up all of the silt and the wildlife that was in the water. After that we took the wildlife out of the water. We then picked out the different wildlife that we picked out on a table. We found many different organisms including crayfish. We found out that the stream was considered fairly clean.

Geocaching like a boss

When we were assembled as a group, Will demonstrated for those who did not already know how to use the small, handheld device we were given. Some of us who have had previous experience with handheld GPS's just kind of hung out for a minute. After the 'proper use' of the GPS's was clarified, we were split up into groups of 2-3 campers. Each group was given coordinates to a container with the next destination. Along the way, the counselor(s) paired with each group pointed out different buildings throughout the campus.
I arrived to camp and imediatly the fun had already began! We started with the generic get to know eachother. After getting to know a little bit about eachother we started a game of kickball. Which of course my team won. After kickball we played a game of telestrations, which everyone quickly picked up on! All in all the teambuilding experience was a good one. 

That was a Dam good tour!

The group went to the Woodcock Dam and had a tour of the different gate systems. One of the dam operators (Joe Arnett) explained about the four mission of this dam: Flood Control, Low Flow Augmentation, Navigation and Recreation.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Frogs, Salamanders, and Snakes Oh My!

So today once we came back from the Fish hatchery we got to hang out a few minutes before April Claus pulled up in her mini van. She had brought so many critters for us to look at and then learn about. First we started with Frogs and Toads. These were cool because she had a spring peeper and bullfrog. They are really cool. Then we caught a gray tree frog on our hike in the rain.  Next we did the salamanders and learned about Hell-benders that we were going to hunt for but couldn't because of the rain. They were really cool, all different colors and sizes. We even got to play a quiz game that we tried to remember the different critters. Then we did snakes. We got to see the two snakes she brought eat a worm and a small dead baby mouse. I am not a fan of snakes. I barely got close enough to see them eat. It scared me because they hung on to the tweezers and almost got out of their bins. I also stayed far away from the people that were holding the snakes. Then we went up and looked for our own frogs and salamanders. It was rainy and wet but fun because we found 8 species of salamanders and one species of frogs. Laura M.

The hatching of creatures

Today unfortunately the canoe trip up the creek was cancelled because of the flash flooding, but that is a good thing because we got to go see a hatchery. This was one of the most fun things we did at camp. As we walked in there was a large display of fish. At the bottom and sticking to the sides were two large catfish. It seemed like there were about 100 fish in the one tank. Then, we went downstairs and saw all of the eggs. In the bottom floor the men raise the fish from eggs to fingerlings and then put them into a lake. The lakes are sectioned off there is one section free for fishing and the sanctuary for preservation. Even in this weather there were people still in the lakes working. Even if the weather wasn't on our side, it turned out to be loads of fun!

Sweeping for bugs!

Yesterday Dani taught us how to catch bugs with sweep nets! We used the sweep net like a broom sweeping along a hillside with tall grass. Once we has swept, we emptied the nets into big zip-lock containers and tried to identify them with dichotomous key Dani drew on a whiteboard. We found katydids, grasshoppers, jumping spiders, ladybugs, along with tons of others. We found a medium sized yellowy orangish round flying bug that we have spent some time since then trying to identify.
It was raining heavily pretty for a lot of the day, so our picnic lunch and most of our plans were ruined again, but we had plenty of other things that we did so that no fun was lost. Before our lunch we were at the spillway, which was where the sanctuary part of the reservoir turned into the rest of it. There was so many carp between the two because its a popular spot for people to feed them bread. Even though it was pouring, we came out with our bread and had a good time feeding the fish. When all the bread was gone we piled back in to the car soaking wet and came to north village to eat lunch. The people at Mckinleys packed us candy for our canoe trip, but since that didnt happen we just ate it at north village. Even though our picnic was ruined we still had a great time today.

The Man with Big Mussels

Today, it was too rainy to do pretty much anything! Our canoe trip was squashed due to too much water, so we pretty much stayed inside. We went to the fish hatchery first, which was cool. They had two massive catfishes, and the perch were mesmerized by my finger. (Imagine a snake-tamer, just with fish. Turban and everything.) Afterwards, we went to a Game Commission Nature Learning Center. It was filled with cool exhibits, and I got to see a stuffed Ring-Necked Kingfisher, which we had just seen on the drive over! After that, we went back to North Village for lunch and hung out. Later, we went to the building where we met Batman, to meet the Mussel-builder. He talked all about freshwater mussels, problems they face, and a particular problem from within their own ranks: the zebra mussel. We spent hours and hours talking about watersheds and lakes and glaciers and... and... Anyway, it was cool.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


After dinner, we had an exciting talk about abandoned mines at Jennings State park. Then, we went on a road trip to the nature center. There we met a man that enjoyed to make bat homes for a hobby. It was very interesting, and after seeing bats we went to learn more! Since we were so intrigued that we didn't pay much attention to the storm outside the pavilion! We ran through the ran, back to the car, and went to the dorms.

Canoe Training

This morning after breakfast we had to go out and learn about safety and how to use a canoe. We learned about different types of lifejackets, how to use the oars, the roles of each person in the canoe, and how to get into them. This was all in preparation of our canoeing trip tomorrow. After a little messing around and switching seats we figured out how to operate the canoe. We brought them back to the shore and after they were on the rack again we went on a walk to the other side of the dam. There was a little marshland that we stopped at for a while to look in, and it was really cool! There was a lot of little turtles swimming around in the water, and we also saw a big snapping turtle that the little ones kept catching rides on. There was also a lot of tiny spring peepers that we saw hopping around the trail we walked on.

Dogs n Stuff

Today for lunch, we took a trip down to a local hotdog shop called Eddie's. They have footlong hotdogs with a wide range of toppings. We got fries and I got a hotdog with onions and stuff on it. It was delicious. Afterwards, we headed right across the street to an ice-cream place, called Casey's. They have the best ice cream! I got one of their signature flavors, Meadville Mud. It was a-mazing. Overall, a great lunch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who Cooks For You? Who Cooks For Y'all?

Last night at 9:00 pm we walked around in a dark graveyard with a Mummy! Ok... not a REAL mummy, but with Ron Mumme to look for owls! We heard young Barred owls screeching in the ravine on the edge of the graveyard! We hoped to see them but after calling for about half an hour we headed back to campus to look for a pair of Eastern Screech owls that live in the wooded area outside the admissions office. We walked around their territory calling and where about to leave when we heard them! We used a huge spotlight and found one in a large tree and were able to watch and take pictures for quite a while before the owl decided to take off! Here is a photo of the Screech owl we saw;

The Unnamed Stream

Today, after lunch, we took a hike back to the previous graveyard site where we went on our owl hunt. There, there is a sheer drop to a ravine. Fortunately, one of our guides knew a path down. It was difficult at times, what with the sheer drop and the slippery terrain due to the recent rain. When we got down, there was this bee-ootiful, pristine stream through a break of shale rock. The view was beautiful, with mist and light shining through the pine trees. We looked for salamanders, enjoyed the view, and sat on the waterfalls. We took tons of great pictures. I even fell once, flat on my bottom! When we got back, we were so exhausted. It was a great trip.

Fun with Water Chem

Like we did yesterday for the downstream after the dam, we did water chemistry with the upstream before the dam. This year chemistry was so not my friend! But this type of chemistry i enjoy because it is actually interesting. We took two samples from the creek and tested both to find the averages for both. So for any scientists out there we tested the creek for temperature, pH, Total Dissolved Solids, Turbidity, Dissolved Oxygen,Alkalinity, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Pollution Tolerance Index, and Number of Taxa. They each have their own specific test with very specific directions that have to be followed for each sample. At the time that we were testing these big mean looking clouds started to role in and scare us into going faster. I was testing the Nitrogen and it was probably the longest test there so I could not really hurry very much.

In other news, we went on a hike behind a cemetery. It was really cool because there was a creek at the bottom of the trail. There was also this mist-like fog and very cool moss growing up trees and on the ground. The creek was almost like one rock so there was not so many little rocks and it was smooth(Alex slipped and had wet clothes). We all had a great time and we found a few salimander and fish. Laura M.

French Creek

We went to the French Creek around 2 today and messed around in the water trying to find things. We got down into the river with a bunch of different nets and our buckets to keep things in and flipped over rocks, dragged them through plants, and chased fish. There were a ton of snails that you could get when you just swept a net through the plants, and there were also a lot of crayfish that we caught, but the fish were very hard to get. There were also a lot of mussels but most of the ones that we found were dead. Some of the fish were really fast and impossible to catch but some of them liked to hide under rocks and those were a little easier to catch. Right near the end I caught this one kind of fish that I had been trying to catch almost the whole time, and im glad that I did because it was a lot cooler than how it had seemed in the water. It had a bright blue underbelly and reddish orande spots on its sides, but in the water it looked like it had a big tail that had white on the outside of it. After showing everybody we packed up and came back to the international house.


We were supposed to have lunch today as a picnic at Stainbrook park. We had the food all packed and ready for us to eat after we were done with the electrofishing, but it started raining when we were doing that. We finished just in time and it began to come down hard as we drove away. The picnic would not have been fun in the rain, so instead of doing that we came back to the house and ate lunch while trying to piece together a puzzle.

Water Chem.

Today we went to the upper creek which is the place above the dam. It was a very muddy spot and there was nowhere to sit! We needed to water test the water, so we got two bottles of water. Then we did a couple of tests that helped show the creek's healthiness. We also figured out that the water on the above creek is less healthy than the one below the dam. It was very fun and we learned a lot about the water quality.After we collected macroinvertabartes. Like yesterday we took a net and streamed them through the water. We caught many diverse creatures. They were mostly small, but we also caught many crayfish. This was one of the most fun parts of the day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Water Chemistry

At 9:30 am we all hopped into the Creek Connections van and drove to Woodcock Creek, downstream from the dam to collect water samples for our research project.  The creek was chilly but refreshing at 21° C (or 69.8°F), but with the blazing sunshine, it was perfect!  After looking at the results from testing the creek for PH, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphorus, alkalinity and turbidity, we found that Woodcock Creek is very healthy.

That DAM Trip!

Today, we took a trip up to Woodcock Lake, up above where our Water Chem and Macro station was. There, we got a tour around the dam management tower, which controls the dam's 4 water gates, which in turn control the flow downstream. This nice Army Corpsman Ranger guided us through, intent on force-feeding us the 4 Rules of Dam Uses: Flood Regulation! Navigation! Low-flow Augmentation! And above allll... Recreation! (Not really, Recreation's supposedly the lowest priority, but we all know the truth!) And then, we learned that the normal drowning victim drowns on a Saturday afternoon, drunk, with absolutely no swimming skills. And we will always remember, IT'S SO FLUFFEYYY.

The Stream Table.

After lunch we headed to the stream table. The stream table is a large abiotic looking ecosystem. With a water pump it pumped water from a faucet into a pool shaped bin half filled with sand. Before the water started to run we shaped an inch wide path along the sand and made a cut off cliff. We turned the water on, and it followed the path to the cliff and ran off. This taught us how in nature the water will erode the land, take its own separate paths to the run off, and can intertwine with the other paths to make a larger river. We used this knowledge afterward when we visited the dam.