Saturday, July 7, 2012

Friends that will last a lifetime

Today we went to the King Farm and stayed from about 8 to 3:30. Needless to say, everyone was exhausted and especially relieved once it began raining. We broke into groups for the project and surveyed different plots of land. After we got into the vans, all of the boys and about three girls went to the last res trip. Finally we got to see Blanton and Rhett dougie in the commons. It was good.

At the end of the day we realized how hard it would be to leave all of our people(copyright Rhett Lundy). Over the past two weeks we have created friends that will last a lifetime. I have learned so many things about amazing people as well as been guided to find out things about myself. From Devonte’s drumming in the middle of the night to Jed’s Starship singing… from Connor’s healthy obsession with snakes to Rhett’s hatred of clothing… from Helena’s elegance to Mary’s royalty… from Clark’s stanky farts to Ben’s POOP DOLLA… from Ryan’s laugh to Martin’s sass… we will cherish these moments for the rest of our lives. I don’t think we’ve ever met so many people just like ourselves from so many different places. We’ve had so many life-changing trips, conversations, and experiences. It’s currently about 2 AM and Rhett and I(Rachel) refuse to sleep. We don’t want to miss a minute of hanging with our people! Many amazing things have happened including making friends with people from other camps. Hah. We’re even going to miss the hoards of daddy long legs in the common room. We will never forget everyone we have met along the way.

Rachel and Rhett

Day twelve.. the last day

Day twelve…the last day…the grand finale…expectations were low, but emotions were high. A later start allowed everyone to be at the top of their game. We spent the morning converting the research we gathered the day before into a power point to be presented in front of all of the other SEI campers. About three people from each of the five groups worked hard to get the work done while everyone else enjoyed themselves on the computers. After lunch, we had some free time and most people took a much needed break from the grueling work. About an hour later, we reconvened in a large lecture hall to show off our hard work. Every presentation was a success, as for the first time, all five groups solved the mystery of the King Farm. Afterwards, it was time for celebration. We had our final family dinner, which was very bittersweet. Many different emotions were mixed as we enjoyed yet another fine meal in the McClurg dining hall. Following dinner, we displayed our many talents such as dancing, singing, playing the harmonica, and violin. Our wonderful counselors, Ellie, Margaret, and J Mickey presented each camper with an individual award highlighting a unique aspect of their character. Afterwards, we all went on our final hike as a group. Our night hike was very somber. Even the sight of the elusive manders could not lift the spirits of the group, for we all knew this may be our last activity together. Our hike concluded at Lake Cheston where we all gathered around a campfire and roasted marshmallows. As the embers in the fire died, the weight of the next day’s departures fell upon the campers. The night was spent reminiscing and many stories were shared as everyone knew the past twelve days had changed them.

Connor Maguire and Nazik Elmekki

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Joe's Recap of the week

          Instead of writing about only one of my days here at Sewanee, I wanted to point out the highlights of my last week and a half. We have done several hikes, some more challenging than others, and learned a lot in our field studies about trees, rocks, and the history of Sewanee. We were also given the opportunity to uncover several ancient artifacts, many of which were over 100 years old. We discovered artifacts such as nails, buttons, and even bones. And although we learned a lot, and had some fun, the unforgettable experiences we will never forget were created in free time as we bonded together to make lifelong friends.
          Our SEI camp has the best counselors. We have Mama Ellie who’s always fun to mess with but keeps things in line. Marge in charge, who is not really in charge, but is always fun to talk to. And John Michael, a cool mountain man with a good sense of humor and for some reason is obsessed with red legos. Another crowd favorite is Blanton. Blanton is hard to describe in words but he will always make you laugh with one of his famous raps. I’m glad I have had a chance to get to know him better through these couple of weeks. Everyone has also had a great time making smores, playing catch phrase, and just hanging out, getting to know each other during free time. I’ll never forget the fun jam sessions Devonte, Ryan, and I had, or the classic tale of Clark. Or the fun times I had hanging out with Giv, Olivia, and Kristel along with my other friends. I also got to know Rhett; a good swimmer/ rock climber, who always seemed to be short on shirts, but was a really cool guy. Also a shout out to Iain, the chilliest roommate ever and the rest of the bros that have made this camp so much fun: Wes, Jed, Connor, Martin, Ben, and Zack.
I also just wanted to thank Rachael for planning this whole camp and making it such a memorable experience. I am so happy I decided to come. I want to thank everyone, and let them know that they really have had an impact on my life and I hope that we can all keep in touch.


Fourth of July

Today was by far my favorite day we've had so far at SEI. The Fourth of July is
always a big deal here in Sewanee, and I am so glad I got the chance to take part in

The first event of the celebration was the dog show this morning, and although I
slept in and missed it, I heard that it was adorable. The show mainly consisted of
dogs from the surrounding neighborhoods, dressed up by their families and competing
to win a giant trophy. The show also sponsored the local animal shelter, which had
its own booth there selling t-shirts ands other merchandise.

Once I was up, I went with my friends to the crafts fair, which lined University
Avenue near our dorm, and we had a great time browsing the wares of local merchants.
Their products ranged from jewelry and clothing to pottery and art, and a few booths
even sold items as obscure as Native American styled bows and matching quivers.

After we shopped for a while at the fair, the time came for the parade to begin.
Various cars and floats began to pass by while those riding within threw candy and
small souvenirs to the crowd.

Finally, after the parade was long over, we made our way to Lake Cheston to hear
local musicians perform and watch the firework show. The show was the perfect way to
end the day, and as the fireworks lit the sky, I couldn't help thinking how much I
would miss this place when it was time to leave.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another busy day at SEI

Today started out with an early breakfast, then everyone headed out into raging heat with their field gear on. Group A headed out to the archeological site to dig up old forks, bits of bone metal and glass, survey the land, and sift for treasures (and by treasures I mean rusty nails). Somehow in the midst of all these exciting adventures, a group of us got a bit lost and ended up hiking the perimeter trail for quite a good bit. I would know… After a lovely lunch we headed back out along the fire trail, this time to measure trees! We divided up into groups and measured and counted a variety of trees in a forest plot recently restored by the Sewanee forestry department. After a wonderful meeting with the cross country coach, dinner, a free concert downtown, the games began! A hilarious time was had by all, followed by hand-churned ice cream. In short, it was a splendid day!


Digging up some history

Today we observed trees and we dug in the archeology site. Some things we looked for in the archaeology site included nails, pieces of pottery, and glass. During the tree observation we observed white oaks, black oaks, poplar trees, and maple. It was very boring, but interesting in some ways. Archaeology is way better than it seems to those who look down upon the fascinating subject. The thrill of finding rare objects can really excite you and possibly turn your other interests to archaeology. During free time today there was a fun concert! We all walked around town and hung out while enjoying the music. This camp is fun!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Big day for a Monday

Big day for a Monday. We discovered this morning before breakfast that our groups had changed...sad face. So to be quite honest today has been kinda weird because the group dynamic isn't the same as it's been the days. But so far it's been very good!

We started this morning on our kinda mystery project of finding out what the story behind the King's Farm. We used a GIS (don't ask me what it stands for, I don't remember) system to mess with all the picture maps to see that over time that place was used for farming and then pine tree harvesting it looks far. Strange. Anyways, after a yummy lunch we had a talk with the director of Environmental Science and he basically tried to recruit us for Sewanee (and let me tell you it was verrryyy tempting!)

Group A (the one I'm in) :D got to go canoeing this afternoon!!! It was SOOOO much fun!!! The guys were tipping everyone left and right, but my group luckily got away...for a while. Eventually we got tipped about 4 times. It was super fun though :D.

After dinner tonight we shall go on a night hike, basically a nightmare of invisible snakes and writhing poison ivy for me and a relaxing moonlit stroll for the rest of the group. YIKES! If anyone is actually reading this, we are amassing more bruises and scrapes every day, though no poison ivy or tick bites yet thank heavens. Emma and Clark are doing better with there cuts from the bike crash a few days ago, and are healing more and more every day. I can't speak for EVERYONE...but for the most part we all are having SO much fun and already becoming a bit sad about this whole thing coming to an end. Sniff sniff :'(


Taking a dip, sharing a laugh

Monday started bright, early and anticipated as we suited up for canoeing at the GORGEOUS lake Dimmick.  We paired up and set out paddling although we only canoed for about twenty minutes, because it didn’t take long at all for the tipping to start. I was this first one to be thrown into the cold lake water and was followed immediately by our two girl counselors, Ellie and Margaret.  This resulted in a tipping war that ended with soaked clothes, missing sunglasses and abandoned paddles.  IT WAS SO FUN!

Our final session of the day took place in the computer lab in Spencer Hall where Dr. Van de Ven taught us how create maps using a GIS. This was especially interesting, because the maps we constructed were of the King farm (a farm we will have to analyze, determine why it survived during the Great Depression, and then later present our hypotheses to the group).

Today at dinner a couple of us decided to eat outside and it was so nice and refreshing due to the (finally back to normal) cool weather. We finished dinner quickly and spent the rest of our time joking and talking.  It’s so crazy how you can force different people from different places to live together and those people (who would have never interacted with otherwise) become your best friends that laugh together, play together and somehow find a sweet harmony together. Here, during this unique experience, everyone not only gets along, but can’t wait for any chance to hang out and just chat with their new found friends. I can’t wait to see what this new week brings!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guest blogger - Dr. David Haskell

And now to share some of Dr.David Haskell's ramblings.

New experiences on this Sunday

Today I took advantage of the well-known and revered chapel on campus. I went to my first Episcopal Church service and witnessed different traditions unlike the ones I practice at my Methodist church. It was an enlightening experience that showed me a new perspective on faith! I was surrounded by beautiful architecture that only heightened my experience. Afterwards my friends and I were greeted by Rachel P. who was kindly handing out lemonade. It was a refreshing surprise! 

The rest of the day consisted of free time and relaxation. Around midafternoon the entire group left for a swim at the res that kept us sane in the insane heat. By the time we returned back to Hoffman dorm it was almost time for dinner! 

Today was also a pivotal moment in the cafeteria because of the transition to a self-op program which allows Chef Rick to take control of all the food options (many of them organic/local). So basically, everyone is now nutritionally satisfied and pleased with the food. To round off the day’s ventures we had a discussion with Dr. Evans about our impact on the world and the constant change that is occurring simultaneously. It really opened my eyes to the issues that face my generation (and generations to come) in the near future.  All in all, it was a great day filled with new experiences, play time, great food, and learning!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yes mom and dad, we are getting enough sleep!

Finally, today we were able to catch up on some much needed rest. It was the first day we could naturally sleep in, so a majority of us slept through breakfast. This gave us the perfect excuse to have a great brunch at Stirlings. We were then able to explore the domain, which is seemingly endless. After dinner, the real fun began. At around 5:30pm we made our way out to a beautiful hiking trail named Fiery Gizzard. This trail was a nice hike compared to our past adventures down to Solomon's temple which left us mentally and physically fatigued.

After about a 25 minute hike we made it to a seemingly picturesque swimming hole. It was freezing cold, but it felt amazing after the hike. We found crawfish, spiders, and an arsenal of small critters. I'm not sure if it was the ice cold water, or the vivid coloring of the landscape around us, but something about that area created a place of peace and serenity.

We swam for a while, and as everyone was getting tired we began our trek back up the mountain. Normally the hike back is always the worst, but in this case it was very enjoyable. We did a little bit of service to the environment, and picked up trash we found along the way. As everyone says, leave no trace. Finally, we made it to the vans; just as the last light was fading over the horizon. Lastly, no journey would be complete without a stop at Sonic. Overall, today was a wonderfully chill day. Everyone was able to regain their energy in preparation for the week to come.

Savoring the friendships

It's the end of the first week and so far, things have gone well at Sewanee. Today was mostly a day of relaxation, but we did make room for some good hiking and swimming. We hiked the Fiery Gizzard trail and while it was somewhat tiring, the swimming was nice and refreshing. After our hike, we stopped at Sonic, where we were treated to some delicious drinks. Everyone at the camp seems to get along great. At night, people go to Sterling's and hang out. I'm going miss everyone when it's time to leave.


Friday, June 29, 2012

And now a word from our poets

The bloodiest day on record… Bicycle crashes, Yellow jacket stings, Somebody scraped their knees, and it still remained a scorching day. A daunting/ steep hike resulted in a glorious sight. Solomon’s Temple –a flow stone cave- what a magnificent sight it was. Ended our strife of the day with a view from Greenview with stars delight…

Emma and Zach

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yellow Boy

I learned about filtering water today. We used activated carbon particles to pull iron particulates out of the "Yellow Boy" water. "Yellow Boy" is created in areas close to abandoned coal mines, water and oxygen can more easily access the coal which run into nearby streams and lakes. The "Yellow Boy" is simply a redish-brown color film of Iron Hydroxide that covers the bottoms of the waterways.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Early morning light

It's only day three at Sewanee but I have already learned and experienced so many new and interesting things. Today, like every other day, was packed with engaging activities. With Dr Haskell, students ventured into the forest to observe the birds of the forest in the early morning light. We learned about some of the behaviors and songs of the birds we encountered. After breakfast,Group B headed to the low ropes course where relationships and trust between the campers were tested, and increased, by team building exercises such as the "spider web" and the "trust fall". Later, we had a chance to scale an exposed rock face on the Domain. Though climbing skill levels varied, and some fear was involved, everyone enjoyed the satisfaction of reaching the top of the rock face. Overall, today was another awesome day at SEI learning and participating in intriguing activities.


Pushing boundaries

Today we went bird watching, completed the low ropes course, rock climbed, listened to a presentation on amber fossilization, and watched The Chronicle at the Sewanee movie theater.
This morning, led by Doctor Haskell, we learned that bird and tree identification is not determined by sight alone, and that sound is an important part of the environmental makeup, and then later learned through Dr. Knoll that this environmental complex is not temporary; the actions and interactions in this complex can then be preserved through time through different ways of fossilization, one of them being through amber.

Outside of the classroom, we pushed boundaries through group activities that required trust and teamwork and continued pushing these boundaries individually through rock climbing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lessons to learn

Today on my adventure I did many things. My first adventure was a early morning bird watch. I learned that many different types of birds have their own little song that they sing. I also learned about different bird species and their habitats. One really important thing that I learned in the bird watch is soundscape. Soundscape is a combination of sounds that interact with the environment. These sounds can be birds chirping, wind blowing, cars moving or even people walking or talking. I found this quite amazing. My second journey was a low ropes course, a team building activity. We had to help each other cross the bouncy, yet sturdy wire. This showed me that team work is very important in the environment. My last journey was habitats of the domain. I learned that Sewanee is in a stage 2 drought, Which causes soil to dry up and trees to lose their nutrients. We also looked at certain sites and made a scientific hypothesis on why these sites were in the condition they were in. We hiked to the top of Piney Point and saw the mountains and the beautiful horizon. We searched for salamanders and learned how they store their eggs and mate. We observed a pond with crawfish, butterflies and many other different creatures. Today was the best day of my journey here at Sewanee so far, but there are many more lessons to come that i am excited to learn about.


Getting a feel for the Domain

Today, my group took two hikes on the Domain. On the morning hike, we learned about the different ecosystems on the plateau and in the coves, the different plants life and how water affects the biodiversity. We visited sandcrops with endangered species, hiked to ephemeral ponds, stood on Piney
Point, found a red salamander, and sat on the rocks of a small creek. On the afternoon hike, we learned about the history of why people settled here i.e. coal, shelter, trees, water. As we hiked down Shakerag Hollow, we went into a coal mine shaft, bouldered massive rocks, sat on Green's Point, and talked about the founding of the University of the South. After dinner, everyone made a short trip to CVS, and then, to Sonic where everyone bought shakes, drinks, or blasts. With the sun setting, we sat on the grass in front of the colossal white cross end our second day at SEI.

Hiking Extravaganza!

I am sitting in my room with my roommate and the girls across the hall, waiting to go to dinner and later to go to CVS for snacks and anything else we might need, so I guess this is an appropriate time to write this. Anyway, today was a hiking extravaganza. Group B (the group I’m in) first set out with Dr. Jon Evans on a biodiversity tour of the Domain. This was by far the most interesting thing we have done so far. We hiked to Piney Point, which is a cliff with beautiful views of Shakerag Hollow and other parts of Tennessee nearby. Along the way, we stopped to talk about several places, and Dr. Evans split the group into smaller groups so that we could hypothesize what we thought happened at each of the sites that we stopped. It was awesome to FINALLY get to discuss environmental topics, because the first few days we mostly discussed the history of the University of the South. By the time we got back to campus, everyone was starving, so we ate lunch.

Soon it was time for the second field session of the day. We went on another hike with Dr. John Willis. While a lot of people were tired, it was still fun to get to see even more of the landscape. The hills weren’t as bad as I expected, but I guess being from California, I am used to crazy mountain slopes that we hike up and some of the other people aren’t.

Overall, it was an exciting (and tiring) day and I hope we do more environmental science related things in the days to come!!


Monday, June 25, 2012

A little history lesson

Dr.Willis taught us about the history of the land prior to the founding to Sewanee. On our hike we visited locations where native Americans had taken shelter and a coal mine shaft from the 19th century. Dr.Willis also pointed out multiple natural springs which were the main water sources of Sewanee for many years. At the end of the hike we visited a replica of Sewanee's corner stone and learned how the civil war altered the building of the school.


The start of things

This morning Group B went Geocaching, kind of like a scavenger hunt using mini-hints and a GPS. We paired up, got on bikes, and explored the campus looking for different items all over campus. Some of the hiding places were really hard, but I feel like we really got a good feel for the campus. Group A got to walk around with a professor who likes to be called "Smith." We got to excavate a historic site that was about to be torn down, and we found a few old nails, which was surprisingly really exciting. When Group B excavated later in the day, Smith said that the nail we found might be the oldest nail found on the site yet. We got Popsicles afterwards, which was really nice because it was so hot outside.

After dinner, we had Dr. Haskell talk about his book "The Forest Unseen." I think everyone enjoyed listening to him speak as we sat outside as the sun was setting. After our busy day, a few of us dropped by the near by coffee house and hung outside chatting about everything under the sun. Others went out to the gym and had a good workout. I can't believe that it's only day one! I can't wait for the rest of the week!