Saturday, August 10, 2019

Blacks Creek Site Description

Welcome back to another weekly update! Each week I have been blogging about our work at the Blacks Creek site in Quincy, but I haven’t properly described our beautiful site. I will strive to do so in this post!
Of view of our site - we meet near the beach on the left portion of the photo
and spend time exploring the water and marsh pictured.

     Our camp is based at the Quincy Recreation boathouse on Blacks Creek. We are tucked behind the main recreation offices and our camp meets right on the water. Blacks Creek is a relatively small creek, lined with marsh, that flows into the Quincy Bay. It is somewhat tidal, but there is a small dam with gates that is the main controller of the water level. The water there is brackish, meaning that it is a mixture of saltwater from the ocean and freshwater from rain and runoff. This week when we tested the water using our refractometer we found the salinity to be around 3.5 parts per thousand, but I would guess that the amount of salt in the water is higher at times, especially if the gates were to be completely open during high tide.

     For about half of each camp session, we explore in the water. Campers are permitted to go up to their knees, and at this depth, we can catch many minnows, shrimp, crabs, and mussels. In addition to wading through the water to catch things we often set up a crab trap off of the boating dock. Most days we catch an average of 10 to 20 crabs. We have a touch tank that the campers can put all of our finds for the day in and the counselors observe the animals with our campers while also teaching them what we know. One of my favorite parts of our site is that the learning is often done so naturally that the campers don’t even realize they are being taught information, but they do walk away with more knowledge each day. A few times throughout the summer we also have brought out a seine net. This is a large net that requires two counselors to work. We wear our swimsuits on seine net days and walk a large net out to a depth of about 3.5 feet. On seine net days we often catch upwards of a hundred minnows and twice have even caught baby flounders. This next week marks the last week of Quincy Recreation programming, so as a special treat we are going to bring fishing poles, the seine net, and our regular nets, so the campers have lots of water activities to choose from.
Pulling up the crab trap

Examining our catches in our touch tank

     Across a small parking lot, our meeting spot is a sports area with a big open field, a baseball diamond, and a gaga ball pit. This is where we play games for about half of each session. Our campers favorite games are gaga ball, evil scientist, and froggy detective. Gaga ball is somewhat like dodgeball, but it is played in a hexagonal pit. Each person wants to be the last one standing, and you get out of the game if the ball touches you below the knee, if you touch the ball twice without it touching the wall or another person, or if you hit the ball out of the pit. It is a quick game that allows each player to choose how active and engaged they want to be. Several people often choose to be the main ones hitting the ball at other players and others choose to hang back. One of our Tuesday and Thursday morning players, Ethereal, is well known in our group for being great at quietly hanging back and dodging the ball until the end, when she is often one of the last two players remaining. The game is also lots of fun to watch so it keeps our campers engaged even after they are out. In evil scientist, one or two campers play the “evil scientists” who stand in the middle of our field. Everyone else lines up on one side of the pitch and silently chooses an animal. The evil scientists list a characteristic of an animal and if your animal has that attribute, for example, “if your animal eats meat”, then you must try to run to the other side without being tagged by the evil scientist. We love playing this game because it is a fun running/tag game that allows small resting time in between running and also includes some science in the gameplay. When it is really hot out or everyone is a bit tired we play froggy detective. In this game one player is the froggy detective, one player is the secretly-selected froggy killer, and everyone else is a froggy bystander. We all sit in a circle with the froggy detective standing in the middle. The froggy killer tries to kill all of the bystanders, by subtly sticking their tongue out at them, before the froggy detective can correctly guess who is the killer. All of these games, as well as the many others we play, have really helped us to bond with our campers as we play and have fun together.
Playing Gaga ball with our campers!

I hope this post has helped to clarify what a day-in-the-life at our site looks like. Comment if you have any questions!


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