Monday, July 17, 2017

Wrapping up 2017 Creek Camps... and Preparing for 2018!

It's a wrap!

We had two fantastic weeks of Creek Camp this year.  So much fun to get to know wonderful Creek Campers and share the French Creek watershed with all of you.  I think you'll agree that our family of Creek Camp presenters are the most passionate, caring, and knowledgeable around!


Keep in touch Creek Campers!
You're part of the Creek Connections family now!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Slithering into the North Village and The Hunt for the Red Spotted Newt

We went on a hunt for as many types of snakes, newts, and salamanders as we could. We traveled out to Bousson Environmental Research Reserve. We herped and found and took pictures of several snakes and an abundant amount of salamanders and newts.

Following that we then traveled back to the North Village and heard a presentation from April Claus a herpetologist that helped to teach us about the state newts, salamanders, and snakes and some of their interesting hiss-tory and mistaken myths. We all held a corn snake, garter snake, milk snake, black rat snake and Box Turtle.  Additionally, we saw a garter snake and the Box Turtle being fed. We also helped some people with ophiophobia to get over their fear.
 To reinforce the species identification, we then had a team review game. It was a great experience for both snake lovers and non-snake lovers.

Salamander Sweet Spot

We arrived Bousson Preserve, a beautiful place that's great for finding salamanders, after our picnic lunch. The first place we checked for salamanders was under two telephone poles. There was one salamander under each telephone pole. In only a few minutes of searching we had already found two salamanders! We crossed a slippery bridge and began flipping rocks to find several salamanders. Next, we walked on a grassy path between small ponds and found two species of snakes and two species of frogs.

We headed to a stream with lots of salamanders. They were under the mossy rock and under logs on the ground. There were even larval salamanders in the stream. We had so much fun finding these amphibians! Up the hill we searched in the leaf litter and under logs and branches and found even more salamanders and red efts.

Must be Birds on the Brain...

We then toured the non-releasable bird houses. It was owl-mazing! There were so many really neat birds such as the fastest bird, the Peregrine Falcon. Or a Red Tailed Hawk with melanin deprivation.  

Once again we went out to go to Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. It was another amazing trip as we went there. When we walked in we had a great presentation of the numerous amount of educational birds that we learned were non-releasable due to previous injuries.

We learned that possession of any part of a endangered bird by the general public is ill-eagle. This is because this would potentially suggest poaching. It wasn't emusing as the splash zone was activated as all of the birds taken out decided to relieve themselves while being taken out.

They sparrowed no expense in making the experience great as they were previously scheduled to do a simple operation on a Red-Shouldered Hawk. They did a easy quick procedure to inject its antibiotics and feed it its breakfast. Overall it was a great time and super fun!

"It is man’s sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man." ~ Albert Schweitzer

The Best Substitute for Hellbenders

Last night, we received some really sad news here at Creek Camp. After looking at a hydrograph of French Creek, our counselors informed us that we would be unable to go hunting for Hellbender Salamanders. In it's place though, came ice cream. As a surprise, we were allowed to go to Casey's Ice Cream here in Meadville. The only cure for heartbreak, after all, is ice cream. 

fishsticks new begining

one fish two fish three fish catfish

- Ranan Steiger


We had some fun today looking at some pollinators. Who knew they could bee so awesome?!?!?!

The Carrden

The Carrden derives its name from the garden outside Carr Hall, the science building on campus. The Carrden began as a student project in 2015. However, student gardens on Allegheny's campus have been around for over 20 years. We learned about how invasive species affects the Carrden. Also, we learned about how the Carrden affects student life. The Carrden supplies ingredients to the mess halls on campus in addition to various local restaurants. The, we got to harvest carrots from the Carrden. I personally do not have much of a taste for them, however everyone else seemed to enjoy them. I enjoyed being able to see the Carrden in February, on a visit, and now, when it is in full swing. I believe that we all appreciated the effort of the staff of the garden, and the Carrden itself.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pennsylvania Trees

The creek campers piled into the van and headed to Greendale Cemetery again, but this time we weren't looking for owls. Our subjects were much easier to spot, if we can get to them. We were looking for trees. The state forester lead us down a narrow trail to the stream that ran through the ravine behind Greendale Cemetery. The cemetery consists of 300 acres, but only about 100 are managed for the cemetery. After passing over some slippery and muddy rocks we came to our first tree, a White Ash. Next we came to a large Sycamore, the largest in Crawford County. We followed the stream up the ravine and throughout hiking up and down a few slippery hillsides we observed many different trees. Some of the species included: Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel, Sugar Maple, Hemlock, White Pine, Tulip Poplar, Cucumber Magnolia, and American Beech. We learned a lot about these trees and threats to them like invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer.


What a batter way to finish off the day then with a chance to observe all types of bats in their natural. then at the forest commissions bat homes. We had a chance to view some brown bats in a wooden homemade bat home. The newest bat disease that is clearing out all the brown bats are a fungus called white nose syndrome this sounds exactly the way you think they get white blotches on their nose which is fatal to bats like these if you wanna see bats come on over to Meadville and I bat you you will find a ton.

Ranan Steiger

Mussels (not the kind you get in the gym!)

Today we had the opportunity to learn about mussels from Mr. Brian Pilarcik. Due to high water levels, we met at a park, where Brian taught us a side of biology that not many of us knew about. We were taught about the multiple different types of mussels and how they affect our environment as well as the French Creek watershed. We learned about how freshwater mussels are actually endangered, which is commonly unknown. Mr. Pilarcik actually brought in multiple examples of mussels he has found in his work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shock Fishing


we had fun today shock fishing. well until Lizzie and Aidan fell in..... that was slightly funny

Exploring French Creek

After a picnic lunch, we began to explore French Creek. Everyone was using the nets to look for crawfish and macroinvertebrates. Robin was a pro and caught a fish with her net.
Lizzie and I tried to do the little mermaid pose on a rock in the middle of the creek without much success.

Jennings Environmental Education Center

We began by learning an abridged history of mining in western Pennsylvania. Needless to say, mining was a very dangerous profession. However, mining was very important to the industrial revolution. In addition, iron mining was and still is affecting the environment. Run off water from the iron mines is destroying the health of local waterways, such as the streams and ponds of Jennings State Park. We learned how Jennings is taking passive action to maintain the environment in the park. Now we understand the necessary steps to protect the environment from the very real dangers of iron mines.
e death, destroyer of worlds."-Oppenheimer

AC Admissions Lunch

We spent lunch today with admissions counselor Michelle. We talked about Allegheny's admissions process and what sets it apart from other colleges. At Allegheny, merit scholarships are given without regard to other scholarships are given that someone already has. We asked Michelle lots of questions and she was prepared to answer all of them. Michelle also told us what liberal arts means, but if I'm honest I don't remember what it means now. I was in a food coma.

Night Owls in A Cemetery

Hunting for owls? Check. Red lights on our headlamps? Check. What else can they do to possibly to make it more creepy? Let's go walking around a cemetery at night with our great guide Professor Mumme at one of his common roosts at Greendale Cemetery!

We all got loaded into the Creek Connections black van and headed off cheerfully talking along the way there. When we got out we looked around and saw the fog creeping along the ground and up in the trees. Owl things considered it looked like a scene from basically any horror movie located in a cemetery. Thankfully we didn't have the Walking Dead come out chasing us. 

To attract them Professor Mumme played sounds of Barred Owls, Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls. Then he graced us with his extremely realistic owl calls. In the end we were owl out of luck as we did not find a single owl. However it was owlright as we later saw some bats as they went hunting. Our guide, Professor Mumme threw a small dirt clod into the air as a bat passed by and it dived down go after the clod.

Overall it was a very interesting night where instead of owls we found several bats.

Macros Downstream

yesterday we had some real fun with the kicknets. we had to show off our super attractive dance moves to catch some cool macros in our nets. some had more fun than others and then some people almost fell in....

Kicking for Macros

Finding macros in Woodcock Creek can be lots of fun for creek campers. In order to collect the macros two people hold the net in the water placing flat rocks on the bottom so no macros can get past the net. The other person performs the creeker's shuffle in order to stir up all the macros on the bottom of the creek and push them into the net. Then the net is taken to shore where the campers sort through the contents and pick out the living macros and place them in a white tray. Once the macros are found, we identify the different species and count how many of each.

Water Testing Galore

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Well, if we weren't good at water testing before, we sure are now! Our second day of water testing proved to be extremely successful. We packed our kits and headed to the upstream sight. Yet again, we tested temperature, pH, TDS, DO, Phosphates, Nitrates, Alkalinity, and Turbidity. With our waders on, and our improved water testing skills, we tested our upstream sight!

Adventures in Hydro-Geology

As we entered Alden Hall, no one expected much. However, as we adventured downstairs into the basement, we found more than we expected. As we turned the corner and saw the Stream Table, Alden transformed from a normal building into a dream from our childhoods. This table of sand and water became a table of endless possibilities, and for a short time, we were God. We created rivers, saved lives, shaped the earth, and flooded it. We built dams and broke them. Friendships were made and concretized even further. In the words of Oppenheimer, "I have become death, destroyer of worlds."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Testing Water Chemistry

On Monday morning, we all piled in the Creek Connections van and headed to our downstream site at Stainbrook Park. Once there we collected water samples from the middle of the creek. With the help of our counselors, we began to test the water chemistry. We were all able to perform different tests; some of us even had the opportunity to perform multiple tests. They included temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, nitrogen, and phosphorus. I tested wide range pH using the kit. This simple test involved adding an indicator solution to the creek water samples and matching the changed water color with the pH slide. Tomorrow we will test the water chemistry upstream and see how the data compares to our downstream chemistry.

Geocaching and Camp Intro

As one of the first people here it was very exciting to see all 6 of my fellow campers arrive. After everyone was settled we started to do some basic icebreaker games such as throwing a ball around and if it was to you then you had to say a strange fact about yourself. After that we then had a interesting game of ultimate frisbee three vs. three all faced off with the counselors and campers. Joey "The Friendly Canadian" Pastorius popped out one of Brian's glass lenses (a counselor from RMU) while playing by accident. After the smashing game, we then moved over to other icebreaker games.

Following dinner, we moved onto geocaching to learn about the college campus. The race was on between the girls and guys. Both sides wanted to win desperately...overly friendly bets were made. Not necessarily about the geocaching. The guy team was a little sidetracked due to those bets and laughing extremely hard. Throughout the tour the guys' team made friends with students on campus. Namely everyone they passed they talked to. Meanwhile, the girls' team flew in speed as they quickly ran through the course. While they won by at least 20 minutes, the guys' team got something greater. Very humorous and extremely memorable experiences.


When signing up for Creek Camp, the first feeling that washed over me was excitement. I mean, come on, it's Creek Camp! What could be any better than that? However, an entirely new feeling soon began to set in. I'm going to camp with complete strangers! Excitement soon turned to nerves. However, as soon as I set foot into North Village and met my new companions for the week, all the nerves vanished. Being with a group of people who had the same interests and passions as I did turned out to be absolutely incredible. We started off by playing a game of 4 Square. We began to talk about where we went to school, what we wanted to study, and what activities and interests we each had. We then went to dinner and learned even more about each other. Right after dinner we split up into two groups (Boys v. Girls) and went on a Geocache tour of the Allegheny College campus. When returning to the North Village, we began a game of Apples to Apples. It was a night of laughs that made us all even more excited for the incredible week ahead.