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FAR Ecology Summer Camp Log - Megan Carras, Consultant
July and August, 2012

August 10- Friday


Today we met in the office and the campers finished their picture descriptions that they had started on Wednesday. They each took a photo that was taken this summer and described the experience on their own words. We then headed to Acorn Park Dr. with the performance costumes and Alewife puppets and dropped them off. Then headed to the garden to split into groups and prepare for the Arlington Boys and Girls Club guided tours. The group was split into 4, one went Megan, Mohit, Ellen, and Alan to the garden, path, storm water area, and north trail. The campers guided the tours and discussed various things they had learned this summer. The kids really enjoyed tasting the edible plants at the garden. Aubrey stood out in her tour. We then headed to Acorn Park Dr. where Maya had set up the stage. The campers met with Maya to go over the performance. The campers did not feel prepared as they had not practiced. They all got into costume and the performance went ok. The campers mostly improvised and Maya came in as the wind and helped when the story needed to move along. There was an issue with the volume as some did not speak loud enough. Everyone then had pizza from Bertucci's and chatted. Many consultants came to see the camp completion including Arlene, Amy, Steven and Andrew. We then presented to awards to the campers and Ellen gave them each a gift she brought from Vermont. We then helped Maya transport materials to her car and headed back to the office. The campers filled out surveys. We went around the room and everyone talked about how they felt about the friendships they had made and their interactions with the others. Everyone had really nice things to say about the others. Everyone then helped clean up the office and we said goodbye.



August 8- Wednesday


Today Ellen returned from Vermont and wanted to campers to present their insect reports and herbariums. We gave the campers time in the morning to work on each. Half of the campers worked on the computers with Megan while half worked with Alan on the herbariums. Many already had prepared their powerpoint presentations and waited around for the others finish. Once all reports and herbariums were complete we had lunch in the office. After lunch, the campers then presented their reports in the conference room. Many had selected the same species so there was some repetition although many had differing facts. There was not time for all of the campers to present. Aubrey presented the herbariums on behalf of everyone because they had all done the same plants. We then went to the garden to clean up and weed before the presentation to the Arlington Boys and Girls Club on Friday. The campers also helped fix the fence. The campers left from the garden and Megan, Mohit, Ellen, and Alan met to discuss Friday and camper awards at the garden.



August 1st- Friday


I met the campers at the office and walked them over to Little Pond where Alan and Mohit were waiting with the Charles River canoe guide. All campers and staff filled our release forms. Steve, the Charles River guide, had us help transport the canoes to the pond. He then fitted everyone for lifejackets and everyone got a paddle. He informed everyone about safety and paddling. We then launched the canoes into the pond. Steve asked what exactly we wanted him to focus on. I stated that this was an ecology camp therefore we should focus on the natural environment. He directed everyone to canoe along the perimeter of the pond and he discussed some of the wildlife. He is an ecology teacher and had a lot of good information. He did some sampling near the wetland and showed the campers some insects. We then headed down the outlet into the Little River. We saw 5 swans. At a certain point we had to turn around because branches were blocking the path. We then headed back into Little Pond and saw an Egret. We had about ten minutes left after we had finished canoeing the perimeter. Those that wanted participated in a canoe race. We were all very hot and tired. We brought the canoes out of the water and helped Steve get them back on his trailer. We also assisted him in putting the lifejackets and paddles away. We then headed back to the office to have lunch in the AC. Sam then came after lunch and gave his workshop. At this time, Alan, Mohit, and myself met to discuss the final week. Before the campers left we informed them of what was expected for the final week.



July 30th- Monday


Maya called late Sunday and informed us that she would not be able to come in until noon. Mohit and myself decided in the morning before camp that we would use the morning to help the campers prepare for Maya and also spend time typing organism reports in their Wiki. We split the group, half brainstormed skit ideas with me and half typed up reports with Mohit. I spent the time with the campers coming up with a basic idea regarding pollination and habitat destruction for the skit they will be doing for the Boys and Girls Club. Several had very good ideas and they all seemed excited about doing something slightly different with what they have learned thus far. Aubri came up with the basic idea and skit timeline. She wrote this on the board. They all picked one of the pollinators that they have researched to be in the skit. They all then wrote about this species and what sort of character they would be using the scientific facts they have learned. They also decided that the “problem” of the skit will be the destruction of the Silver Maple Forest and they brainstormed reasons to present for conservation. Sumit and Aubri wrote these notes to present to Maya. We had lunch in the office so we would not have to carry our lunch. Mohit got carrots and green beans with a veggie dip that the campers enjoyed. We headed to Acorn Park Dr. and met Maya. She introduced herself and we played a name introduction game with movement. We then played a couple other games to get the campers to open up and express themselves with movement. The campers were excited to present their skit idea to Maya. Aubri presented the idea and everyone went around and talked about their chosen species and character. Maya then gave her feedback. She really liked the idea and work that the campers had put in. She gave some constructive criticism and helped the camper think about how to further develop their characters. She gave them an assignment to think about their characters and their costumes. The campers left from Acorn Park Dr. Mohit, Maya, and myself went back to the office and met to discuss plans for Wednesday and the performance in general.


July 27th- Friday


We met at the Harvard T station and walked over to the Harvard Natural History Museum. Steven Gillies met us on the walk over. Eli and Meklit accidentally went to the office so we waited around for them about 20 minutes before Steven led us to the small mammal room. Steven informed me that he had assigned each camper a mammal that was in the reservation. They were all to have researched that mammal and be able to present some information on it. The campers were not prepared for this however many had basic knowledge and were able to make observations. Steven was pleased with this and talked for about 30-40 minutes. The campers were then free to look around the museum on their own. Steven then gathered the campers in the insect room and I showed many the native butterflies displayed. The campers then wanted to go to the gift shop. We went to Harvard Square for lunch then took the T back to the garden. Alan met us at the garden with the material for the fence. Many campers volunteered to help with the fence. I led some others in watering, weeding, and replanting a couple plants that had been moved by the DCR the previous couple days. We then headed back to the office. Alan and myself arranged that we would split the group and some would work on herbariums while the others worked with me on their reports. All were able to collect extensive research on all their selected organisms.



July 23rd- Monday


When the campers came in, Megan had them look through the resource books and pick 2 pollinators and 1 plant species to do research projects on. They all wrote 5 facts that they found about each. Megan collected these sheets to be kept in a file so that they are not lost. Megan then gave a PowerPoint presentation and short video on composting. Everyone then went out to the garden. When we reached the garden we discovered that someone had vandalized several things. The kiosk door had been broken, the bee hotels had been smashed, the compost and trash had been turned over, several plastic bins had been thrown around, and the water cart was stolen. Megan had the campers help clean up the garden before anything else. The group was then split. Some painted the picnic table a base coat of green. Some went and got water and others labeled plants. The groups then switched so that everyone got to paint whom wanted to. The campers then formed small groups among themselves and labeled the garden plants based on the Mass Audubon books. The campers then found their plant species in the garden that they had chosen earlier and sketched it. Finally, the compost was discussed and the campers determined that it needed more ”green” material based on the earlier presentation discussing carbon vs nitrogen material for best decomposition. The campers weeded and placed the “green” material into the compost. Everyone then had lunch in the garden. Some of the boys went to Bertucci’s. Amy then met us in the garden. The group was split in three with some sampling at the garden with Megan, and the others along the path to Acorn park with Mohit and Amy. Tuna was used as bate to attract scavengers. Also nets and aspirators were used. Each camper had a worksheet with insects from the Mass Audubon books. They were suppose to find 10 each using the books. All campers were able to do this. After sampling, everyone headed back to the office. Amy discussed the overall findings with the campers and gave a short presentation on the significance of insects. Megan had the campers choose an insect that they had found out in the field as their last species to do a report on. They all chose and looked through the books to write 5 facts about that insect.

July 18th - Wednesday


Susan and Megan arrived in the office together. Megan gave a PowerPoint presentation on specific bee/wasp types/traits, butterfly hatching update, Costa Rica presentation, and significance of Alewife reservation. They then did a honey tasting. They tasted three honeys: one conventional with an unknown source, one from western Mass, and one from Cambridge. The kids really enjoyed the one from Cambridge as it was unstrained and had bits of comb in it. Two short videos were shown: one on urban bee keeping in Cambridge and the other on climate change and its impact on bee pollination. Information and importance of the bee hotels was given and procedure was discussed. Susan then presented some material on native bee and wasp species. Everyone then went out to the garden to construct bee hotels. Three frames had already been built by Megan. She had also collected knotweed. The campers cut down the knotweed and filled the structures. The campers then did an observational exercise with Susan where they sat at a flower for several minutes and wrote down pollinators that were observed. Susan then gave a final wrap up about the bees/wasps that had been seen in the garden. Everyone then headed to Acorn Park and had lunch. Amy met at the Acorn Park picnic tables. Everyone went to the entrance of the north trail and transect was set up with 8 sample points in the woods. Aspirators and white shake clothes to used to collect insects. There was not very much success in this region. The area was very dry and densely wooded. Many of the campers quickly became uncomfortable and unmotivated. Everyone then cleaned up and headed back to the office. Amy and Susan further discussed the sampling method in the office and determined what could be different. Megan let the campers know that on the following Monday they would be choosing their species for their reports.



July 13th - Friday


Megan, Allan, Mohit and all the campers met at the Bertucci’s at Alewife T station at 8:30 am. All campers arrived and we went onto the train to make our way to Deer Island. It took about 1 hr and 30 minutes to get to Deer Island. When we arrived we checked in at the gate then met our tour guides. We were taken into an office building and a presentation was set up for our arrival. We were first given a talk about the treatment processes and shown samples of sludge and the water at various stages. The speaker was highly engaging and many studies, especially Milo, asked several questions. Then we watched a 7-minute video that showed the processes and graphics of the facility. We were then led around the facility where we saw the process from the beginning to the end. The completion of the tour was the viewing of the water that was being fed out to the bay and released. At that point all campers were hungry, hot and many were complaining. We headed back to the office building and sat and ate lunch. We then walked back to the bus loading area. We waited for about 40 minutes for the bus and many of the campers were highly frustrated because we were going to arrive in Cambridge after 3. This meant that they would miss Sam’s workshop and that they would have to meet him at Cambridge Rindge and Latin to collect there checks. We allowed them to get off the T where they chose, as it was already 3 by the same we got on the red line. We said goodbye to each as they left. Allen, Mohit, and Megan headed back to the office. Megan and Allen received their checks before leaving.



July 11th - Wednesday


Megan came for the second half of the day and met the campers, Mohit, Allan, and Arlene at the picnic tables at Acorn Park. Allan left and everyone else headed into the reserve to do sampling with Arlene. We headed to site 2 to sample for macro invertebrates in the Little River. All campers put on gloves and used strainers to sieve through the mud. The campers found crayfish, many snails, water scorpion, and others. Arlene then discussed the overall health based on the findings. All campers except Aubrey attempted sampling. She was not willing to get into the muddy area. We then cleaned the supplies and headed back. We stopped at the garden to further clean the supplies with the garden water. Back at the office, Gary Blau was waiting for us. All the campers removed their boots and placed them on the tarp. Most needed to go to the bathrooms and get cleaned up. Mohit helped Gary set up his presentation. He then gave a presentation on pollination and photographing flowers and insects. He showed several of his photos that were very good. The clean up team then cleaned up and the campers left.



July 6th - Friday


Mohit and Megan arrived around 8. Megan set up the supplies for the flower dissection on the table in the conference room. Mohit and Megan set up the PowerPoint presentation. The materials needed for the garden activity was placed in the cart. Megan went to Whole Foods to buy the daily fruit. There were four more campers. Megan began her presentation while Mohit and Ellen had the new campers fill out packets and gave them the general information. Megan gave a presentation of pollination and general butterfly lifecycle. Megan also introduced the indoor butterfly hatching at her home. The campers then did a flower dissection activity where they drew the intact flowers, then dissected, identified parts, and labeled and pasted them. We then went to the garden where Ellen had half of the group help with moving the tool box, picnic tables, and other large objects to make the area look more presentable. The other half of the campers did garden work. The experienced campers showed the new campers how to water and mulch. Megan then did a plant identification activity. The campers were split into groups and each group was given a list of four plants. The campers used guide books to research each plant and tried to identify it in the garden. Megan assisted in the identification. The groups then labeled their plants. Each group picked on of their plants to show to the rest and talk about. We then headed to Acorn Park where we ate lunch at the picnic tables. Andrew and Todd joined us and gave some brief info on tree climbing. We then headed to the tree that was set up with several ropes. All the campers were able to try the climbing. Although, some were more successful then others, all seemed to enjoy the unique experience. We then headed back to the office. The clean up crew vacuumed, emptied trash, etc….The other campers wrote in their journal. Ellen had each go around and giver their opinion of the day.



July 2nd - Monday


Ellen, Mohit, Allen, and I greeted all the campers as they came in the office. Only five came because of the July 4th holiday. We explained to them about where to put their things and handed out packets to each. We also showed them their cubbies. They all then sat in the conference room and waited. We decided to get started around 9:30 because we realized many campers may not be coming the first day/week. Ellen gave the FAR orientation presentation. She introduced Mohit, Allan, and myself. We then talked about ourselves and explained the agenda for the summer. We played a name game that involved throwing a ball to one another. This explained everyone learn names quickly. Allan, Mohit, and Ellen went through the packet and explained field and office safety. We then headed to the garden. Megan explained about the process of creating the garden and showed the campers the basic layout. She also walked them around and explained some interesting features about a few of the plants. We had lunch at the picnic tables at the garden then went to Acorn Park. We played the pole game and Ellen explained the importance of the area. We then headed back to the office and campers we split into cleaning teams.