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FAR Ecology Summer Camp Log - Mohit Sheoran, Camp Supervisor
July and August, 2012

Aug 03rd – Friday



It was a day of physical exercise. I and Alan went to the Canoe site before campers arrived at the office. Megan gathered all the campers and walked down to the pond via bike path. We made sure to communicate safety procedure to campers regarding boots, water contamination and using sanitizers after canoeing. Steve was our instructor today. He is a fantastic teacher. He was right on the top about safety. He was also in the water all the time and leading us to different parts of the pond. Each and every camper enjoyed talking to him, collecting some aquatic plant samples and canoeing in different parts of the pond. We helped Steve to put all of his gear and Boats back to the trailer. We came back to the office and ate lunch. Then Sam came to do his workshop on networking. I worked on few emails and then had a meeting with Alan and Megan to plan next week. We spoke mainly about four projects viz. Herbarium, Megan's Wiki project, Powerpoint presentations to Ellen and Friday performance of campers. All of planned to pull our strings together and compile the last step of Summer camp successfully. Alan estimated 1 and half hour to complete his Herbarium project. Megan needs two hours to nail her project down with each campers using Wiki and Powerpoint software. Mohit is preparing Eli, Aubri and Sumit for Monday's Mayor Showcase program. We decided to give time for at least one practice for the final play. We discussed to make three groups of campers for Friday leading tour, making a stage for the performance and printing survey material, Awards list etc on Wednesday.

Aug 01st – Wednesday



I had some little surprises today. I had to work around my schedule today because Megan was sick and she couldn't come to work. So I had to hold the fort with Maya in the morning. Maya worked hard and she made everyone write their dialogues and practice them. She prepared a solid script as well as a poem for them to sing in the end of the play. She also showed some costumes which she brought with her. She stayed till 4:30 preparing for the play and sorting out costumes and finalizing dialogues of the play. Alan came during lunch time and joined us with Catherine Woodbury. Catherine was very thorough with a very visually interactive slide show. She also brought some posters to give a better picture of the storm water project. Then she led us to the actual site and showed us various parts of the project. Campers were a little interested in her class due to sitting all morning in the class room and working on the play practice. It was little difficult for them to keep their mind completely focused. Though Catherine was very informative and told us that Storm water project will be done by July 2013 and people will be able to walk right next to Little River.


July 30th – Monday



Monday did not go as planned earlier. Maya changed her plan and came in the afternoon instead of morning. I and Megan spend one hour in rotating campers on the computers available to write on the wiki about their chosen pollinators. They have each chosen one insect, one plant and two pollinators. Then we spent an hour in planning the individual roles for the play and their did some ice breaking to make themselves comfortable with the stage performance. They were very good at brainstorming, coming up with a tentative script and their respective roles. This helped Maya very much to take over directly and not spend a huge time in ice breaking. Maya came and we met her at the acorn park drive. She brought a huge pile of material and handeled kids like a pro. She knows how to attract their attention and talk to them. She played two open air games to get their body moves and voices toned for theatrical performance. She asked about Ecology, pollinators and plants to each kid. She discussed the script and story with the group and asked them to act on it. Some campers were still shy and didn't say very much but people like Eli, Milo, Aubri and Tamarah were participating. Maya gave them a basic story line, her expectations, Idea about the costume and an assignment to answer a set of four questions about their respective role plant or pollinator.



July 27th – Friday



We all met at the Harvard T station at 8:45 Am. Meklit and Eli reached the FAR office instead of Harvard. I told them to come straight to the museum and we started walking to the museum after calling Steven. I paid for all of us and a person form the museum oriented us. Steve was very adamant about mammals even though I asked him to focus on insects. Anyways we went to the mammals room and he gave a very good presentation. Few were prepared with their research and they explained about various animals. Some were encouraged to see others and they also spoke about their animals. But after some time they all were bored because Steve kept on talking. Then I asked him to cut short and finish in order for us to go to insects section. Finally everyone was really excited to see all different sections of the museum. Caroline was in shock and cried for a while after seeing the animals. She imagined the atrocities might been done on these animals for bringing into the museum. She became normal after some time and She enjoyed insects section a lot. Others were also recognizing some of the insects they had talked about in the class. We came back to the Alewife T station around 12:30 PM and fixed the remaining fence. We came back to the office. We spoke about our trip and reflected back on our learnings. We divided them into two groups. Megan lead the discussion in the conference room. Alan was helping few of them out in the reception area to get some research done on the her barium project. Eli, Meklit and Alissa, Sumit enjoyed the museum trip. Sumit even found out that the fact about the body temperature of a specific animal was wrongly mentioned. I'm happy to see the attention level of our youth.


July 25th – Wednesday



It was the day with Anne Marie. She took us on the North Trail. Jeff and his team were 30 mins late. Steve joined us to talk about mammals and he gave assignment to kids to get ready for the Friday trip. Anne Marie Explained about placards, Storm water project, Alewife history and works of FAR. Kids were engaged in her conversation except few usual kids. The group became overly large when Jeff and his team joined in. We finishes our walk in 2 hours and ate lunch. After lunch we went to the garden and built fence. We ran short of some fence material and decided to finish this on Friday afternoon. Then Alan did a geo cashing exercise with the youth. It was great to see that youth were interested in finding their geo location rather than just playing with GPS like a tech toy. We came back to the office and did some Wiki.


July 23rd – Monday



It was full of writing and documentation. We started morning with asking campers to select 2 pollinators and 1 plant to choose from. They had to pick these plants and insects name as well as write in detail about them. They also draw the picture of plant they chose. They used audobon book to collect the details about these plants and insects. Megan showed them a slideshow about compost. Then we moved to the garden for further activities. We found that someone had broken the window glass and bee hotels probably over the weekend in the garden. Our tarp fence as well water slider was stolen. So we cleaned the garden first. They found their chosen plants and drew picture right in front of it. We painted the wooden table in the garden. Then we spent 15 mins in weeding the garden and putting all the weeds in the compost. We spent 30 mins in labeling different plants in the garden. Kids were exceptionally excited to label the plants. They recollected their memory (as taught in previous classes) to identify the plants. Amy came during lunch hours and our day activities became even more serious. We discussed how her activity could be integrated with Megan's morning activity of choosing insects. We decided that campers will have to choose one more wild life insect from the samples they would collect. So we divided campers in three teams with adults Mohit, Megan and Amy. Megan's team stayed in the garden and Mohit and Amy's team went right next to swales. We spent 30 minutes in collecting samples of insects and filled up work sheets. My team observed 18 different types of insects there. We all moved back to the Amy's team was near the acorn park drive. We all came back and Megan asked campers to write down their extra insects chosen and add this one to their respective lists of chosen morning insects. They all wrote it down and Megan collected their sheets. Amy also wrote down results from all the campers and she will email us the integrated master list of collected insect samples.

Amy and Megan overlapped their programs very precisely and Amy remarked that it was a much successful day than last week. She said that it was a good planned and executed day by us.


July 20th – Friday Log and Summary




Friday Log – Friday started with a little unexpected incidents. We gathered in front of Bertucci's to catch the T for our field trip to Waltham farm. Alan's car was broken so he came to the farm directly after it was fixed. Milo didn't show up and we waited for 10 mins for him. Then we board the train and got off at Harvard except Eli and Meklit. They missed the stop and got off at central instead. Fortunately they came back to harvard taking another train. We met Steven at the Harvard station and waited for 20 mins for Eli and Meklit. Finally we left for the farm and reached their at 10:30 ~ 45 AM. Fan gave us the tour of the farm and spoke about Farm operations, campers' background attached to farming, Different type of farming business models like farmer market, CSA and groceries store. We did helper Fan in moving three wheel barrows full of leaf mulch. Some campers were not serious about working with mulch, which is very sad. Fan engaged in a lively conversation about the Farm history and asked campers to do two interactive activities with work sheets. They learnt to identify between farm and non farm products as well identification of herbs by looking at and smelling them. I told that we have to leave at 12:30 so she did it on a fast schedule. Alan didn't a chance to talk about his activities due to time crunch. Finally Steven and Fan took us to their kitchen and we made hummus, kale chips and salad dressing on our own. It was delicious. We came back and attended Sam's workshop on professional communication.


Weekly Summary -

It was a week full of outside activities focused on biodiversity. Campers like Tamarah, Trishala and Meklit are still not very much interested in the camp activities as well as actual work. Most of the kids enjoyed David craft's class. It is one of the most curious class till date. Every one asked questioned and tasted edibles with him. Alan and Megan both are very vocal about integrating their concepts with external consultants. I saw Alan's involvement and talking to campers about plant collection during David's class. Megan actually built and follow up on Susan's morning class on Wednesday. After Susan led the class and spoke to them about pollinators, Megan led three different teams of campers to build three bee hotels, collect more knot weed and fill up work sheets about observing the pollinators in the garden. The whole time Susan kept campers engaged with campers who were observing pollinators. On Wednesday afternoon Amy took charge of the group and decided about the transect place near the discovery park. We divided campers into four groups, led by Mohit, Megan, Susan and Amy respectively. Each S-C and Ex-C was involved in collecting and guiding campers in sample collection and taking pictures. I, Megan and Amy also discussed next weeks plan to follow up on Wednesday's activity. I have to say that Milo and Miles always get out of track whenever they are outside but we are able to discipline them. Tamarah, Meklit and Trih needs some more push to be interested in our curriculum. Alissa, Aubri and Katherine are diligent in listening during presentations, filling out work sheets and working outside. Sam is very regular in his visits and also very much accommodating to me. He discusses his expectations, our expectations from his workshops and my questions about discipline for the campers.


July 18th – Wednesday



It was an information as well physically active day. Two big superstars of our camp – Susan and Amy were in the camp. It was a lot of knowledge sharing, materials used and discussion about insects and pollinators. Susan and Megan led the class with a presentation on insects and honey bees in the morning. Susan brought a Bee chart and a big collage of different type of bees. She and Megan discussed with the campers in detail. Then we geared up our selves for outside and picked our lunch to go first to the garden followed by acorn par drive and swales area. We divided campers in teams of three to make bee hotel, water (garden and bring from dog park) and observation of garden pollinators. Three bee hotels were made with knot weed. Campers filled up their worksheets about pollinator observation. Then Amy came and we ate lunch. Now Amy took over and we set up our transects. Again four teams were divided to find out insects on ground, on tree branches as well as in the air. Campers loved this activity because we used pillow case for tree insects, nets for flying insects and suction pipes for ground ones. We walked back to the office. Mohit led a discussion about why do we need pollinators and what was everyone's experience today. I also asked about the Employment experience with particularly FAR. It was a hot day outside. I explained in detail about our Farm trip on Friday. I also took comments of two campers about their work experience with FAR camp.

July 16th – Monday



It was a little confusing day because I did not hear from David Craft until late morning and I started panicking if he would not come for the class. I left voice messages to David and shifted his curriculum to late morning in case he gets back to me. I discussed with Alan to carry on with his presentation about photosynthesis and Herbarium . He did two presentations and we walked out to the garden. We watered the garden, chose plants for herbarium. Every one was very excited about choosing their own plant. David called me and came to the garden directly. He led us in the garden as well as to acorn park drive to identify edibles. He was very encouraging to the campers and had a good experience to work with teens. Everyone tasted various edible plants showed by him. Alan took the advantage of his class and integrate herbarium project with it. Campers also chose some edibles for herbarium. We came back to the office and ate lunch. Campers discussed about the plant they chose and put some leaves in the pressing sheets. We spent a good time to work on wiki and write their experience.


July 13th – Friday - Weekly Summary



Today (Friday) was little tiring but adventurous day. We went to the Deer Island to visit the Waste treatment facility of Boston area. It was quite fascinating to see plant's size and capacity to process the waste every day. Campers were first grossed out to see the water sample and slides presented by Meg Tabasco. Over all it was a lot informative to everyone. Campers were also considering the place as their future employment opportunity. The only problem was transportation from the Blue line station to the island. Though there are buses running on the route to the deer island but there isn't any fixed schedule. Some buses don't even go the last stop which is the deer island itself. So we had to wait for 40 mins for a bus while coming back.



Over all this week was a lot more productive. We got a good number of campers and everyone came to the camp except Sumit. Sumit informed us in advance last week so it wasn't a surprise to us. It was a week of getting work done instead of training people. Campers were active in working in the garden, going to the north trail and cleaning team performing their given task.


I'm glad that after first week's highly diverse schedule, we could focus on Hydrology and water eco system this week. Doing water quality, natural water ecosystem, urban water system, aquatic insects etc, were all topics in sync to each other. It was great for me to see Ellen in the middle of the week, which helped a lot in making few decisions.


Some campers like Eli, Miles and Trishala and caroline showed a great change and were very much interested in camp activities. Miles and Catherine are good ones to get the water from Dog par, Aubri and Sumit are good for watering plants, Eli, Tamarah and Alissa are very much interested in filling out their worksheets and asking questions. Milo and Meklit are still improving, which I hope will bring better participation form them in future weeks. Meklit is aloof and not participating. Milo is sometimes attention seeker and disturbs the group discipline. But no one is a threat to the group motivation.



July 11th – Wednesday



It was a power packed day. Full of outside as well as inside activities related to insects. Arlene Let campers through slide show, insect identification sheets, insect samples quiz, quiz work sheets and finally going to the physical site on the north trail to catch insects. She was accompanied by Alan and Megan for the first and second half of the day respectively. Campers were little apprehensive about getting in the water to catch insects despite wearing boots and rubber gloves. But once Miles, Eli and Catherine initiated the activity and found interesting insects, it motivated everyone else too. There was a lot enthusiasm in campers to find out and then identify individual insects. Then we came back and Gary Blau was waiting for us in the office. He showed a slide show and demonstrated two cameras. He interacted with kids about nature photography techniques. He also spoke about how human beings need to respect natural settings of the forest and its dwellers. It was little boring with only slide show but Gary made it interesting by taking out the real picture frames out of his bag !! He brought around 10 wildlife photos taken by him.


July 9th – Monday


Mohit and Alan came early to the office to get the material for WQ testing ready and also to prepare conference room.

Students learnt about water quality testing and its importance. Alan showed a slide show about Water, nutrient cycling and then did water sample testing in the class room.

Arleen came by the office. Mohit helped Arleen to get her material ready for Wednesday.

Around 10 AM we walked to the Garden with our WQ testing apparatus and safety gear.

All the campers were excited to do the real testing outside. We first reached the garden and watered plants. We also brought water from the dog park to replenish our water barrel.

Then we walked down to the North trail to test water quality on two sites.

After that we ate lunch on picnic tables at acorn park drive. Then we tested water quality at two more sites including one at the alewife brook right behind the garden.

All the campers filled up their worksheets with the results of five type of water tests, GPS location and temperature of the site.

We came back to the office around 2 pm. Campers wrote their thoughts on Wiki and cleaning team vacuumed the office. There wasn't much trash or recycle on Monday.



July 6th – Friday


Mohit and Megan came to office at 8 and prepared the conference room, projector, computer for the morning class and put all the materials in the trolley for field work

Megan bought some more fruits form Whole food in the morning

Four more students joined the camp this morning and now the total count is NINE

Mohit and Ellen oriented new campers and Megan welcomed them to the class

Sam came and took their time sheets.

Megan did a slide show about pollinators and Flower anatomy followed by hands on activity

We went to the Garden and moved tools and other things behind the tables. We cleared the Area in front of Kiosk.

Campers also watered the plants. Megan did a plant recognition activity with them by dividing into teams. Campers chose their favorite plants to do research on.

We ate lunch on picnic tables near acorn park drive parking lot. Then we met Andrew and Todd to learn basics of tree rope climbing and love for nature.

All the campers practiced rope climbing for two hours. It was a very physically intense activity but also a good way for campers to overcome their fear of woods and trees etc. A good team building activity.

After that we came back to the office and each camper reflected on their experience of tree climbing. Mohit announced about time sheets – Wednesday, rules to leave the office, rules for gathering before going out, rules about salary

Cleaning team did their job and others wrote their observations in their journals.





July 3rd – Tuesday


Mohit and Alan reached office at 8 am. Mohit fixed the projector and computer for Alan.

Mohit went to Whole foods to get some fruits, peanut butter and bread.

Mohit received signed registration forms back from 4 out of 5 campers

Alan showed a slideshow and gave a food web activity to the campers. Some campers were excited and involved in the activity and couple of them did not pay any attention to finish their activity.

We then announced to go to the garden and out in the fields with lunch boxes and campers left the office in a disorganized fashion. Probably I did not make it clear that we ought to gather in front of the counter before going out.

Alan led campers first to the garden where they watered plants and observed some pollinators. Lunch was eaten at garden. Also we brought two 5 gallon water buckets from dog park.

We went to acorn park drive and Alan led us from the picnic table to the front of North trail and explained about eco system. We also leant how to use GPS units.

Group came back picnic tables and met Amy. Everyone learnt basic characteristics of insects.

A couple of campers had to talked and focus on the study by Mohit. Everyone got a chance to collect insects using nets and draw their pics.

Then we walked back to the class/office. Amy showed slide show on introduction to insects and provided work sheets to work on.

Mohit later asked the cleaning team to do vacuuming and collect trash and recycle. The trash bins were not put back on their respective places and campers left 5 mins before 3 PM. So that was also not made clear to them by Mohit.


July 2nd – Monday


The very first day of our camp was full of surprises and new learning. I, Ellen, Alan and Megan were excited about the campers and were expecting 10 campers. Only 5 campers showed up on Monday.

We waited for others till 9:30 but then decided to start. Elen gave orientation slide show and talked about FAR and its summer Ecology Camp. Staff Consultants were introduced and we told them about fruits and lunch available with us.

Every staff consultant and camper introduced themselves.

We played a name game to remember each other's name. Office protocol and registration packet were discussed with campers.

We took everyone to the garden where they were told about garden history, its rules and work by Megan and Ellen. Campers did their first watering in the garden. We ate lunch in the garden.

Then we moved to acorn park drive picnic tables and played pole hunt game.