The summer of 2023 started off on a high note for Trailblazers! This year, we are offering three week of summer camp. All of our weeks focus on connecting students with nature through learning how to identify birds, collecting citizen science data, and developing positive trail etiquette practices. Although each session focuses on these goals, none of our three weeks are the same!
Trailblazers High Adventure Summer Camp is our most action-packed and challenging week for students! Of all the summer programs, the High Adventure session features the longest days with the most adventurous field trips. We spent five days together traveling all over the Delaware Valley on foot, by bus, and even on water!
Our first day of camp began with brief introductions before we ventured onto the Bethel Springs Elementary School Nature Trail! Our day started with some great animal action: First, we saw a Bald Eagle flyover! Then, we saw a pair of hawks fighting over a dead snake that they dropped in front of school!
After a morning of practicing birding and outdoor etiquette, we hopped on the school bus after lunch to visit the Concord Elementary School Nature Trail. After a brief hike, the students did a creek walk through Webb Creek, which served as a way to beat the heat as well as how to safely walk through a creek!
Tuesday's field trip was an all-day excursion to Nolde State Forest in Reading, Pennsylvania. Upon arrival, the students found a baby Red-eyed Vireo in the picnic grove right next to the school bus! The morning began with a hike around the forest, where we ran into awesome birds like Scarlet Tanager, Northern Parula, and Ovenbird. We even found a Slimy Salamander when passing by one of the creeks. Our afternoon was spent at Painted Turtle Pond to observe all the different turtles there, but that activity was cut short due to fast-moving thunderstorms that were approaching.
Wednesday's field trip was another all-day adventure! This time, we visited St. Peter's Village; a quaint company town in the northern outskirts of Chester County. This location is known for its amazing collection of boulders that are spread throughout French Creek.
After a morning hike, the students enjoyed cooling off in the creek as they enjoyed some safe climbing. Parts of the creek make nice pools for swimming. One section even has a rock that has been worn into a slide! This part of the creek also had quite a few reptiles (a few different snakes and a turtle!)
Thursday's field trip is our most adventurous: the canoe trip down the Brandywine River! The 12 canoes were put in at Corcoran's Bridge near ChesLen Preseve, and we spent our day paddling down the river.
We stopped along the way to play in the water and enjoy lunch as well. After the trip, we stopped by the Brandywine River Museum to check out that section of the Brandywine River before heading home.
We would like to send a special thank you to Mr. Steve Piasecki, former Principal of Bethel Springs Elementary School, for joining us on the water to help guide the group!
Our last day was spent at Bethel Springs Elementary School, where we enjoyed a day of reflection along with some fun and games. Good thing we stayed in this day; it ended up being the hottest day all week! Before things were too sweltering, we made our final nature walks to the BSES Nature Trail as well as Peanut Pond. Then, we played games in the cafeteria throughout the afternoon since the gym is under construction! We ended our week together as we recapped our "thorns and roses." Students shared what didn't go as expected this week (their thorn) along with their favorite thing from this week (their rose.) We are happy to report there were far more roses than thorns!
Overall, we had an absolutely outstanding week! We had a fantastic group of students who loved to learn and were ready for adventure. Thank you to Mr. Piasecki for joining us. Also, thank you to families for their continued support of Trailblazers! Finally, special thank you to rising 5th grade student, Spandan Das, for writing his own trip report of our week together. You can check it out here!
This week, we tallied a total of 58 different species of birds! Here is a list of what we observed, but check out our eBird Trip Report for more information: