This year's session of Trailblazers High Adventure Summer Camp was a welcome return to nature and fun, all in one! This was our first session of High Adventure Summer Camp since the outbreak of COVID-19. We were so excited to finally get the chance to get back to traveling to some of our favorite locations to connect with nature. We even added a few new locations to our itinerary! All told, we ended the week with 79 different species of birds.
Our day Monday started off like previous years! We spent our morning exploring the BSES Nature Trail to learn about habitats, plants, and practice good trail etiquette. We also went birding on our first visit as a summer camp session to Peanut Pond; a piece of private property just outside BSES with a beautiful pond. There we were treated to Eastern Bluebirds, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Kingbirds, and Baltimore Oriole. We even got to wave at Peanut the Goat at the nearby farm! The afternoon proved to be a different story...
We boarded the bus on Monday afternoon for our first field trip of the week to the Concord Elementary School Nature Trail. Of course, right when we arrived the sky opened up. It POURED rain, but we went out anyway in our rain gear (and makeshift trash bag ponchos for those who needed them.) After we did our best with the rain, we decided to head back to BSES early to dry off and enjoy some fun and games inside!
Evansburg State Park was our Tuesday field trip! A first-ever visit for Trailblazers, this trip exceeded expectations!!! The hiking and birding were exquisite, and the students very much enjoyed the creek walk. They even found the shell of an abandoned car in the creek!
We had spectacular views of Scarlet Tanager as we hiked on the Mill Race Trail. Kaitlyn also found an Eastern Box Turtle laying eggs under the dinosaur slide on the playground!
Wednesday's trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Woodland Beach Wildlife Management Area were as fun as they were BUGGY. The refuge provided the best birding of the week (and likely the best of the summer.)
We had our first-ever observation of Black Skimmer with Trailblazers! We also had super close views of Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Wood Duck, and an adult Bald Eagle on the mudflats. The bugs were just horrific though... Anytime we opened a window or opened the bus doors, the greenhead flies would swarm in. Thankfully students were prepared with bug spray so no one was getting bit! Special thank you to our driver John for braving the bugs, the heat, and keeping his eyes on the road despite all the amazing birds around us.
After the refuge, we ate lunch and then did some swimming at Woodland Beach just north of Bombay Hook. The swimming started off quite pleasant, but then the greenhead flies moved back in on us! After a nice dip, we ran back to the bus to seek refuge, dry off, and head back to BSES.
Thursday's canoe trip was simply EPIC: A six-mile paddle down the Brandywine River with Northbrook Canoe! Students were paired in canoes as we paddled through some gorgeous Chester County open space. We even got to go through ChesLen Preserve, a previous Trailblazers field trip destination.
Bird wise, we had an immature type Bald Eagle perch for all to see! We also observed lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackle foraging along the water. We even had a freight train pass right by us and honk its horn for the students while we were on the water!
Also very exciting was the return of Mr. Piasecki, former principal of Bethel Springs Elementary School! Mr. Piasecki has had a tremendous influence on Trailblazers and both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. BQ. He is the one who helped start the BSES Nature Trail along with the Nature Trail Committee in 2008. He helped start Trailblazers at BSES, and he has done so much to support Trailblazers over the years. Having him back to help with this trip was very special for both students and staff alike!
Friday wrapped up our camp week in the perfect fashion! We spent our morning with final walks on the BSES Nature Trail. We also checked on our bird boxes to see what was nesting on our campus. We discovered two boxes full of Eastern Bluebird eggs, two boxes with active Tree Swallow nests, and two empty nest boxes. Then, we had an afternoon of fun and games inside to beat the heat!
This week was a special week for us here at Trailblazers. Getting back to our usual summer fun has been quite refreshing! Getting to reconnect with students, especially with those who have joined us in previous years, has been so wonderful. We look forward to one more week of Trailblazers this summer in just a few short weeks. See you July 11th!
For a full list of the birds we observed, check out our eBird Trip Report for the week!