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.

Messy with Macros

The first activity we did today, after all the water chemistry, was collecting macros. These are small little bugs and insects that hide under rocks. We had these two nets that were attached to poles on either ends that we used to collect the tiny macros. After kicking stuff into the nets we went back up shore to pick out all the mayflies and other macros. They were so tiny that afterwards I had to wait a bit so my eyes could adjust back to normal. We found dozens of those little things that we could not get t
hem all. From larvae to nymphs to mussels to worms we found so many species. We even found three crayfish and they were so cute!

My favorite things so far since my mom dropped me off was the Geocaching which was like a geographical scavenger hunt and the Geology Stream Table. The Geology Stream Table was so fun! It was almost like a gigantic sand box with water. We made the Pittsburgh point by making a few lines that intersected and let the water do the rest. Then we sort of failed at making Niagara Falls. Overall we got messy in the sand and water almost like we were at the beach which I thought was the highlight of the afternoon. Laura M.


As soon as we arrived, we got right down to business. Hold on, though- this wasn't serious, busy business. This was fun business, involving balls and Apples to Apples. The first game, icebreaker, mind you, involved a giant, round beach ball. On this particular ball were a number of questions. Gooey, mushy stuff, like "What do you want to do when you're older?" or "Do you have a pet?". Don't worry, we campers eat that stuff right up. It was a good starter, but the real fun began after dinner. That real fun involved a game of Apples to Apples. For those of you unfamiliar with this little gem, let's just say you have a word, and from your choices, you have to decide what would fit that word. The real fun part is, it doesn't have to be literal. Say, for instance, you have the word "Fancy". The answers could range from "Chandelier" to "Nicholas Cage". There are no limits. Afterwards, we were all exhausted, but still, we were stubborn, so we played some cards. It was a great end to the start of a great week.

Geochaching/walking all over campus

Yesterday after dinner we went geocaching. We all came back to the international house and got GPS' so that we could plug in coordinates and go to the compass that gave us the general direction the next set of coordinates was. The teams were divided up between boys and girls, but some of the counselers or guides switched around to make the teams even. I was on the boys team and we had to go all around campus following the GPS. I think that it wasnt quite fair though because it seemed to me that the order of the coordinates for the boys made us have to keep going far across the college campus. On the bright side we did get to see a lot of it. The last coordinates led us to a bush where bags of stuff for the campers was hidden. The bags contained a light that you could strap around your head, a shirt for the camp, and a towel. The girls were waiting nearby eating popsicles, which we got to eat once we found our bags. We stayed outside for a little bit just hanging out  and eating popsicles until we went back inside

Friday, June 21, 2013

Are you guys ready!?

Howdy soon to be Creekers! First we want to say: HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER! What better way to kick off summer than to get ready for an awesome week of Creek Camp! That's what we are up to! We have been fine tuning all the little details in order to make sure that you guys are going have a great week! We have been working hard, but we also have been having some fun too! Below is a picture of us (Wendy, Kelcy, Brogan, and Will) from yesterday when we were planning the canoeing trip you guys will be taking this week! We are super excited for you guys to get here, and we hope it comes fast because the weather has been BEAUTIFUL (and that's rare for Meadville). So get here quick!

Just as a reminder, make sure to take a look at the list of things you may need for the week! See you in a few days!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Creek Camp 2013

I bet you all wonder why i have gathered you here, 

This is the future Creek Camp Counselors writing to you. We are sitting in the lovely, and cold building of Carr Hall at Allegheny College planning and anticipating your arrival, as well as all of the activities you will be participating in. The activities will exhaust you, as they will us, but the amount of fun as well as what we learn will be well worth the exhaustion. Get ready for your six days of excitement, adventure, and exploration with us future counselors. We hope you are excited as we are!