Trailblazers Blog

The Secret Life of Trees Part I
May 28th-31st 

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May 28

The morning was spent getting to know everyone and planning out our week.

We got a good group of ideas and interests together that included exploring the creek, climbing trees, and painting rocks!

We took a stroll around the preserve so everyone could get a good feel for the area.

In the afternoon, we made tea using local edible plants and learned about foraging for food in the forest.

May 29

We participated in working together to build bridges across the creek.

A multitude of supplies were tested, but bamboo seemed to be the strongest and best material for bridges.

Using nets, we successfully caught a tadpole and observed it swimming around in a container before releasing it back into its natural world.

Also, watercolors were used to create some awesome art projects!

May 30

Back to the bridges to perfect them even more.

This time, some natural clay was added to make the bridges even stronger!

We made bird feeders from pine cones and crisco, and spent some more time foraging for sorrel, a delicious edible plant.

In the afternoon, we visited the Emma Wetlands so explore and check out the bird blind.

As always, playing in the creek was very fun and enjoyed by all!

 

 Insectlopedia Part I
June 3rd-7th 

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June 3

The trailblazers turned some of their favorite videos games into a real life camp challenge.

The campers designed the Full Metal Currency system to gain points and earn ‘supplies’.

The trailblazers also enjoyed finding many critters in the creek. They made a temporary zoo to hold their little friends including several salamanders, water beetles, and a crawfish.

The trailblazers also brought back to the FRC a bucket full of clay, which the campers used to make an ant fort and leaf impressions.  

June 4

Trailblazers wondered through the unbeatened forest looking for shelter and materials, and they stumbled accross a stream and bamboo forest. Not expecting a creek, one of the campers yelled, “Teacher, we got to show you something!”

Some campers collected leaves and pinecones to make sculptures, while others made a mandala of leaves, sticks, and pinecones.

Back at the FRC, students turned clay into huts, ponds, turtles, and four legged friends. 

June 5

The trailblazers began the day with a game of trail signs. Breaking up into two groups, the campers identified cool things in nature and left trail clues for the other group to find their treasures. The campers enjoyed making the trail signs obvious and not-so-obvious for their opposing team.

One group’s clue was ‘something pink in nature’, referring to a Morning Glory flower. Instead of the flower, the second group found a Pink Power ranger assuming that was the treasure. There are many surprises to be found in nature! 

June 6

Cloudy with a chance of rain seemed to shift the Trailblazers plans frequently throughout the day. Starting at the FRC, the campers put together personal entries for a guide; their concepts included, a story about a salamander named “Goldleaf”, instructions on how to make a fishing pole, and a list of anime character tiers. The trailblazers then traveled down to the main building for lunch and a few fun games in the sand. 

June 7

Trailblazers made there way to the main building and began the day with a walk around the pond. We stumbled across an Eastern box turtle, and instructor, Ms. Linda taught us how to properly hold the turtle without getting harmed or harming the turtle. One the hike around the pond the students collected items to make insect zoogles. In the afternoon, the campers finished their zoogles and pages for a guide. 

 

The Big Week
June 10th-14th 

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June 10

To start off our morning, we went on a hike around the property. We made a list of all we observed- there are so many living things around us!  Next we set bug traps in the sand.

After lunch, we played some new and new-to-a few games before exploring the giving wall and taking a few risks.

All in all, it was a great first day of camp!

June 11

The weather was perfect today! It allowed us to set some bug traps, make scavenger hunts and then trade them with another group, and play manhunt- all before lunch. 

 After lunch, we explored the creek. We hunted for fish, made a bridge, and played! In doing so, we saw many animals- deer, caterpillars, damselflies, and heard green frogs and a barred owl. 

Can’t wait for tomorrow! 

June 12

We started off the morning with a new friend from Audubon, Adam. He showed us a Carolina Wren that he caught in a mist net before letting it go. We listened to a lot of birds at Emma wetlands, but unfortunately, didn’t catch any more in the nets. That, in itself, is a learning experience. :)

In the afternoon, we started work on a human size nest and did letterbox activity. It was a great day! 

 

Aquanauts Part I
June 17th-21st 

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June 17

Trailblazers put their week theme “Aquanauts” into full effect on the first day of camp. On the way to Emma Wetland, they stumbled upon a biologists from Gwinnett College who told them about Beaver Dam Analogs and how they help to improve streams. The trailblazers then made a trek through Nancy Creek, making fish traps and capturing clams along the way.

June 18

Potential wet weather allowed the Trailblazers to learn about the water cycle. Ms. Linda told the Trailblazers about plant transpiration being a ‘shower’ they were tickled by this and stood under trees to ‘shower’. With on and off storms all day, the Trailblazers made barometers to predict if it would rain soon.

June 19

The trailblazers got to learn about watershed through the Enviroscapes activity, which allows them to see how watersheds become polluted. When they witnessed the mock pollution they described it as ‘disgusting’ and admitted they would “hate to be the kid swimming in that water.” They then wrote solutions to the pollution issues and plan to share at a town hall meeting.

 

The Buzz on Bees Part I
June 24th-28th 

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June 26

We started with watercolors and focused on bees, but other subjects came up too. We performed our bee dances again, some of them were revised and improved. Brooke, the BHNP project manager, came to talk to us about bees - she is a beekeeper!

Afterwards we worked on building some forts and braided grass. We read a book together called "What's the difference?".

June 27

This is day 2 of our multi-media art project. Today we added marker pencil or natural materials as desired. We looked at a dead bumblebee under a microscope. We also did some honey tasting blindfolded!

In the afternoon we had a very lively corn hole tournament! We also made leaf prints in clay and feather quill pens. We added some stamp art to our journals and continued fort building.

On our return to the main campus, we explored Mill Creek in two places, including the waterfall. On our way we also saw a giant wolf spider which frightened some of us!

June 28

Ren led the campers in planning a corn hole tournament today!

We also made tea from hibiscus with native honey - we sampled another GA honey - cotton honey!

We continued with our fort building, as well as working in our journals.

We painted large sticks and explored the creek with nets and shovels.

 

I, Naturalist Part I
July 1st-3rd

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July 1

The Trailblazers hit the ground running this week! We had a really nice discussion about naturalists- what a naturalist is, who can be a naturalist, and what things a naturalist would study.

We decided that the best way to describe a naturalist was a “nature scientist”, that they could be paid or be a volunteer, and that they could be adults or children. Also, we noted that naturalists are interested in everything found in nature from rocks, to insects, to beavers and foxes. We spent some time introducing ourselves, and learned that we all had unique interests and strengths.

For example, Sebastian quickly let us know, “I’m the one who always makes stuff”, and Charlie added on, “And I’m the artist.” We made a really nice journal (see google album) to document the living things we spotted during the week. Charlie and Noa agreed to illustrate it. Just during the first day, we spotted with our eyes and ears a frog, lots of tadpoles, a damselfly, a spider spinning a web, a broken turtle shell, and a red-tailed hawk. A highlight of the day was the tracks we discovered near the stream.

Our first guess was a river otter. Noa took the lead on identifying the tracks with a track guide back at the Research Center. She sketched out a river otter track, and recorded the average length and width. She had the idea to take a ruler back to the track and use it to measure for comparison. We made a wax track, which was a very fun experience. Overall, we spent a great day learning from one another, being naturalists, and enjoying nature.

July 2

Since we relocated to the main building today, we spent some of the morning brainstorming about what we wanted to do, and scavenging for the supplies we needed. We spent the morning creating- we made paint, beautiful artwork, plaster casts of homemade tracks, and our own board game.

The creativity and ingenuity were flowing! After lunch, we hiked to the climbing tree and worked on forts. We found a “natural broom” (Ren), and Sebastian spotted some fungus growing on a log that he decided looked like “a fungus dinner set” (see google album). We collected micah and other beautiful rocks, and hiked out to the overlook to watch the creek for a while. Our plaster masks were a success, and Orli was really excited to turn her Micah into a sparkly paste with the mortar and pestle.

 

Insectlopedia Part II
July 8th-12th

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July 8

We started the day by playing a getting to know you game, and used google translate to help Diego and the rest of us to understand each other. Zelia, Lorelei, and Vivian suggested going for a walk, so we went to the fort and climbed on rocks near the creek. Sophia explored through tall grass while Diego and Sebastian played together in Portuguese.

When we returned to the field education center, we made posters of some of the insects we saw and heard. Sophia made a really cool poster of our walk! We experimented with chalk, paint (it was acrylic and we got some on the ground, whoops!), and paper airplanes. Sophia, Elisabeth, Collins, and Maddy tried to melt some crayons in the sun.

On our way to the main building, Gavin spotted a heron and a hawk for us! We took a shortcut through grasses and over creeks, which was fun! Back at the main building, we played in the hose and taught Diego how to play Mafia! Elisabeth helped Julie clean the room at the end of the day.

July 9

Today was really good! Our favorite part was the mud slide we made at the creek. Maddy, Elisabeth, Collins, and Lorelei worked really hard to make a mud slide, but it ended up working out better at the entrance to the creek. Also in the creek, Sophia, Vivian, and Zelia tried to catch fish in nets. Sebastian and Diego had fun just playing in the water and pretending. Several kids also helped Julie find thin, flat rocks for an art project at Land O Lakes. While we were getting dried and changed, Lorelei and Diego hung out together on the porch to dry off.

As a group, we started the morning playing Mafia again, before we got into some art project and exploring insects. We even saved 2 spiders and safely released them outside! Outside by the climbing tree, Vivian and Collins were capture the flag captains. We played a riveting game together, until we got hungry for lunch.

It was hot so we had a sponge war, where we threw wet sponges at each other until it was time to eat! After lunch, Sophia and Vivian made catapults. It was so popular that Diego and Sebastian started doing it too! Zelia got really into planting some pepper seeds and apple seeds leftover from lunch. The room was a mess after all that, but we did a great job of cleaning up - especially Sophia!

July 10

We spent so much time at Mill Creek! Someone had released a bunch of goldfish into the environment, which is not good for the fish or the creek, so we tried to catch as many as we could. In the end, we couldn’t bring them with us, though, so we had to let the 2 we caught go. Sophia is a master fish catcher!

Zelia got creative and made such a cool boat out of plastic cups and plates that all the other girls wanted to try it out, too. Collins, Maddy, and Elisabeth made theirs into a sort of flotilla. When we got tired of our boats, everyone pitched in to make a stone path across the creek, until a bunch of really big spiders kept trying to make webs in our way, so we left that alone.

We learned that Diego is a really good rock skipper, and some things must be a universal outdoor “kid” activity. Sebastian saved some water spiders in a water bottle, and started feeding them mosquitos. Vivian found some really cool frog eggs attached to a rock, and moved them to a safer spot. Lorelei got really into exploring jewel weed and its medicinal properties.

July 11

We spent a lot of time beautifying the Field Research Center! Everyone helped clean and organize it. Lorelei made helpful signs for different activity stations. Sophia, Maddy, Collins, Elisabeth, Zelia, and Lorelei all worked together to paint the mailbox outside our Land O Lakes property. Sophia has an eye for detail and made sure that the numbers are still legible, and everyone added a personal touch of color to really make the mailbox pop! Next time you drive past, look for the prettiest mailbox on the block.

Diego learned to play Cornhole with Lorelei and the other girls. Maddy, Elisabeth, and Collins played a lot of cornhole and kept tally with chalk. Sebastian worked on creating a time machine inspired by Back To The Future, but it didn’t take him into the future very quickly (only 1 second per second). Vivian found the perfect walking stick on our nature walk.

We walked through the rain back to the main building, which was kind of fun and super humid. Back at the main building, the girls played mafia and poison dart frog while the boys did some workouts to build up their muscles. We also listened to some of Lauren’s amazing stories.

Outside, we went to the meadow and Vivian and Sophia made secret grass forts. Sebastian and Diego explored mulberries, while Gavin looked for turtles. He spotted a huge snapping turtle! Maddy, Elisabeth, Collins, Lorelei, and Zelia all made rafts out of leaves and threw them into the pond. When we got too hot, we played in the hose to cool off.

 

The Buzz on Bees Part II
July 15th-19th

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JULY 15

This morning, we began by discussing our theme, The Buzz on Bees and describing our thoughts, feelings and questions about bees. Some were excited to get up close and personal, while others preferred to keep bees at a distance. We asked many questions-

What is the difference between bees and yellow jackets?

Do bees and wasps get along or are they enemies?

What plants are pollinated by bees?

What do hives look like inside?

We then walked around LOL and explored the places we might want to go this week. We built forts and bridges over a shallow area of the creek and tested our balance getting across. After lunch we learned more about bees, reading about their short lifespans, how queens are chosen and how juvenile bees mature. We finished the day by playing in the creek and enjoying some mud sculptures.

JULY 16

As campers arrived they began creating mosaic bees and other insects with rosemary. It was interesting to see the way they all displayed patterns and anatomical features found among the pages of our insect guides. After that we played a game of workers vs. drones cornhole and found that we have several bean bag tossing champs and even more encouraging supporters. We spent the rest of the morning at the creek catching and observing fish. Exclamations of, “Look i caught a fish!” “I got one with my hands!” “a tadpole!” filled the air.

In the afternoon, we decided to use waggle dances to show each other where we had hidden the “food”. Our CIT had the idea to create a language of movement to communicate better. We worked together and decided to come up with a common dance on Wednesday. We finished up the day with games of Capture the Flag and Bat and Moth to use up all of our energy.

July 19

Yesterday, Ms. Brooke told us that the rock we gave her would be very useful on top of beehives. Because of this and the way everyone seemed to enjoy painting, we decided to start the day with rock and stick painting. This led into a game of "zoodle stick." Campers hid their painted sticks in places that could be seen without moving around. Soon, hiding spots became very clever, and we needed hints. Our waggle dance language was the perfect way to help each other find the hidden sticks while reinforcing our new knowledge of bee communication.

We then went back to our Fort Village, and while some continued building and decorating, others became interested in making puppets and dolls from string along with sticks and other natural materials. Some put on humorous puppet shows with these new creations.

Finally, after a slow walk back and a stop at the creek, we ended our day at the main site where our campers were literally jumping off the walls with energy! Overall, it was a wonderful week of camp filled with gaining new knowledge, testing our physical limits, and exploring ways to work together toward a common goal.

 

Aquanauts Part II
July 22nd-26th

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July 22

In the morning, we spent some time reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. We took a morning walk through the woods to see what was moving around. We found a muscadine vine that was loaded with green muscadines in bunches, and many were on the ground. We learned that when there is a dry spell and not enough water, the muscadine vine will drop its grapes to save itself. Hopefully, we will have rain that will save some muscadines for us to taste!

We explored Mill Creek, and immediately saw a huge tadpole and a baby turtle under the water. When we stood still, we saw hundreds of tiny minnows, diving beetles and water striders. As the week goes on, we will take a closer look at the water and find out why these animals can survive where they live.

July 24

We arrived too spectacular cool fresh weather! We learn from our soup can barometer that the weather would remain clear skies with puffy white clouds! In our exploration of Millcreek, we began to notice more and more minnows, different types types of tadpoles, and, unfortunately, many goldfish.

We began to think about where water is on our planet and it discovered that pounding leaves under a piece of cloth forced the water and chlorophyll out and made beautiful patterns. We thought about where the molecules of water inside the leaves and inside our water bottles may have come from. Have they been frozen in the polar ice cap for thousands of years and just melted a few weeks ago? Were they floating around in a cloud for the last 25 or 30 years? Did they just evaporate from the ocean a few days ago?

 

The Secret Life of Trees Part II
July 29th-August 2nd

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 I, Naturalist Part II
August 5th-9th 

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August 5

  • Morning meeting: thinking about activities and expectations

  • Hiking in the wood

  • Building forts

  • Braiding leaves and grass on the sticks

  • Making bubbles

At morning meeting on Monday we talked about the activities we would like to do during the week, and what our expectations were. We took a hike in the woods, and began fort building. We began braiding leaves and grass on sticks, and finished the day by making bubbles without wands! We used our hands, sticks, whatever creative way we could find to make bubbles!

August 6

  • Playing corn hole all together(competition)

  • Looking at bugs through the microscope

  • Cleaning forts made yesterday

  • Drawing and painting bugs, plants and flowers

  • Digging

Today’s quote: “Mother Nature is everywhere” -Sebastian

August 7

  • Morning meeting: thinking about activities

  • Building forts

  • Making bubbles

  • Drawing bugs, plants and flowers

  • Playing corn holes