The Awakening Pt. II

Our fingers were cold as we shivered, feeling the waves crash against our bodies standing in shoulder-deep water. We looked down into the dark depths of the water and saw armies of snapping crustaceans approaching our feet…

Seven hours prior, we awoke. Breakfast this morning consisted of slightly toasted, freshly prepared, fresh French toast toasts (say that ten times fast)… and watermelon. We spent the rest of the morning packing for the day’s activities. As we were leaving Sagehen, we got a surprise lesson in car mechanics: our van turned out to have a bolt deep in the driver’s tire, so before we left we had to swap it with the spare. Before this fiasco, we would have been on time but alas, fate had other things on its mind.

Our first destination for the day was the UC Davis field station on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore. The building used to be a fish hatchery but was sold to UCD for $1 and became a research center for the lake. We learned about the history of introduced aquatic species in Lake Tahoe, mainly fish and invertebrates. The field station also had an astounding garden full of local species of plants. We got to study and learn about some of the cool native species found there including pine, strawberry, lupine, and aspen. There is a creek running along the back end of the main building offering a diversity of habitats and plant life. The people at the field station had a scavenger hunt for all of the campers to find various bits of information from signs and videos located in and around the station’s visitor center.

After the field station we all travelled to King’s Beach at Lake Tahoe. We had a quick lunch consisting of chips, fruit, and sandwiches that we had made before we left Sagehen this morning. After we’d had our fill, everyone changed into their bathing suits and put sunscreen on. Some ran right into the water, while others took their time because it was cold. After feeling weird pinches at our feet we discovered that the area was crawling with crayfish! We caught a good amount of them for “observational purposes.” A select few among us decided it was a good idea to have the crayfish pinch our skin for fun (Alfredo got free ear piercings). The water was slightly choppy, (mainly from many aquatic recreational vehicles) but we still managed to have fun and play monkey in the middle with a ball! Afterwards, we hopped out of the water, dried off with our towels, and got changed. We then ate refreshing ice cream, and took group photos.

Afterwards, we hopped skiddly dopped into the van and drove back to Sagehen where we jumped into our costumes and played a game of reverse hide and seek called “sardines.” We finished off the game, and then got started on our nightly chores (as a break from writing), and we made personal pizzas. Once our pizzas were finished, we ate dinner and even tried some new things! Sierra, Taylor, and Lucia tried elotes, which is corn on the cob with mayonnaise, parmesan or cotija cheese, and tajin. We discussed all of the great memories we made during this camp. Dishes were cleaned, and many finished their projects that will be presented tomorrow! We also discovered a huge Sierran treefrog, who peed on Noah’s leg when she jumped on him! Finally, we took showers and got ready for the night.

This camp has been such an educational experience that we will never forget and we will miss each other! We have been having the time of our lives and have had more fun than ever before. We’ll definitely keep in touch even if we’re half the world away!




Data Day

Today everyone woke up at different times. Some of us awoke at 6:30 to work diligently on our individual projects (sampling, setting out traps). Some of us woke up early to make everyone breakfast, which was a variety of toast, bagels, eggs, and fruit. Lastly, a few of us wandered half-asleep, like zombies, into the kitchen at 8:00! We were very very very tired (including the counselors who had to take naps because they were THAT tired).

We played Uno again which is easy to pick up and impossible to put down and continued to work on our individual projects. We had free time after we worked on our projects. Some of us searched for more remarkable friends in the forest or meadows nearby camp. Other took a siesta or continued their research.

Chris: I checked on my pitfall traps and then sorted the insects from all of the gunk that also fell into it. There were a lot of ants, a beetle, a spider and a couple of silverfish. Also the small earthquake near Truckee that happened late last night could have tampered with the trap because there was more gunk than should have been in the traps.

Alisa: I went into the fish house and down below to watch fish through the glass. In between fish watching, I stopped by the classroom to check on the group project and identify some aquatic invertebrates in the microscope.

Isabel: I went with Audrey to set out my yellow soap traps made for pollinators. I also went to go observe the flora and the fauna of the riparian and meadow habitats. The meadow was covered in gold light and water drops from the morning fog. It was serene and so beautiful. A few minutes after setting up a trap I discovered 2 butterflies. One of the butterflies was dead and lying on the grass. The other butterfly was being consumed by a bright Goldenrod crab spider. It was extremely fascinating yet skin crawling.

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 10.49.41 PM

After a delicious lunch of sandwiches we played Uno again (surprise!) but this one was different. Instead of using just one deck we combined THREE Uno decks! We made it so that the loser would have to go and wake up all of the people that took a siesta. After a tense game, Chris ended up losing (super close game against Alfredo) and went to wake up everyone.

Our individual projects are becoming masterpieces. While we were conducting our experiment, our instructors helped us to better understanding data analysis. We studied statistics and observed programming to generate equations. One of our instructors discussed her work with time and space, tracking Diptera fruit flies. She teaches statistics to her students and showed us some of the ways the equations can be applied and solved.

Afterword, we each started constructing our (lovely) posters in the classroom. A impressive display of figures, Crayola marker drawings, and taped specimens have decorated our posters. We listened to lots of throwback music including: Queens, Billy Joel, Elton John, the Beatles, Journey, Stevie Wonder, and the Eagles. The music gave us new energy and let us unveil our bird-like voices (more like crows than songbirds).

The dinner team made us all burritos packed with fired beans, salsa, and cheese. We played capture the flag until the sun set over the trees. We overall agreed we had an amazing last full day at Sagehen. We have made so many good friends at camp and we really all have bonded well over the last 5 days. We are driving to Tahoe tomorrow! See you then and peace out.

The Beeloggers (Isabel, Alisa, and Chris)

Science, science, and more science! (with snakes thrown in the mix)

Chilly Morning!

The morning for the girls was rough; those who did not have breakfast duty spent the morning in a continuous habit of waking up and falling back asleep. The boys spent their morning faced with a bracing cold when they got out of their cabin. Soon those who were not required to cook breakfast for the group managed to stumble out of bed and were greeted with the lovely sight of pancakes (courtesy of team Beeloggers). The pancakes were the delicious flavors of banana, apple cinnamon, or chocolate along with a side of bacon. Yumm! After breakfast, we got ready for a mini adventure around the camp to explore different habitats. We travelled to a nearby meadow and spent quite a bit of our time catching bugs with nets and brainstorming ideas for individual projects.


Chris with double nets


In the late morning after a quick snack and an epic round of Uno, we went on to complete the group project. We each were given a role to play in the project in order to survey the stream. Here’s what the authors did. Sierra was the Data Director and kept tally of all the data the others collected. Alfredo checked the water quality with a sonde and pH tablets. Lucia checked the canopy cover with a nifty app and checked the algae density on several rocks. Once we accomplished our goal of finishing the group project we then grabbed lunch and restarted the Uno match of the century and continued to play well into the afternoon.


Mid afternoon, we gathered in the classroom to develop our ideas for our personal projects some more. Once we had an idea going on in our heads we talked with the amazing counselors to help bring our ideas and questions to life. Some of us even got a head start and began executing our projects!

The authors each had their own project in mind and set out to make their ideas a reality:

SK; “I went out into the nearby meadow we visited earlier in the day and collected some scat to bring back in order to identify it and find out what its diet was. I am also going to look at a carcass that we had previously found in order to also identify the mysterious organism and hopefully find out how it died.

AC; “I went out to the forest to find two ant nests, I need to find these nests to figure out what the behavior of three ants are in one nest and what is the behavior of three ants in the other nest.

LM: “I went out into the forest to find 3 trees of the same type but with different health problems: Unhealthy, healthy and dead. I am going to look what type of flying insects live in each tree and why do they choose to live there.”

Snek Friends!

While some of us were out and about working on our projects, those of us back at base camp were greeted with an interesting visitor, a Mountain Garter snake! Lucia managed to catch the snake but was greeted with a stinky surprise upon the capture of our new friend, Noodle. Noodle was scared and stressed for the most part but we were able to catch him and how he acts. After a while of observing the interesting snake, we released Noodle back into the wild.


As the temperature began to drop, one of the other groups camping at Sagehen with us were kind enough to show us just exactly what they were doing in the area. They were researches from UC Berkley who specialized in fire ecology and trees. The people showed us how to tell how old a tree was by coring it and how well the tree’s health was over the years. Then they sent us off into groups to core different trees. Team Hippogriff got the chance to core a lodge pole pine and we were even able to keep the stuff we pulled out from the tree! We were able to tell from the rings in the core sample that the tree was much older than it looked and had a rough life early on with slow growth about 30 years ago (probably because it once competed with other trees that were nearby).

After the talk with the wonderful fire ecologists, we went on a night hike in search of herps (amphibians and reptiles!). During our night hike we were able to see many things including beetles and millipedes. We even saw some frogs hanging out around the ponds scattered around the trail. The most amazing thing we saw however was the Rubber Boa. Noah was so excited to see this snake; it was his main goal at this camp to see this elusive sublime snake. We all got the chance to hold the snake, which we had named Spaghette.

Quote from the discovery:

Danielle (a counselor): “Noah, how do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10?”

Noah: “Can I go past infinity?”


Can’t wait to see what we find tomorrow!

Team Hypogriff! (Sierra, Alfredo, Lucia, and Kyle)


The Awakening ¡!

We “awakened” after our first night at Sagehen Creek Field Station. The male dorm slept well but woke up a few times due to chilly toes. Tonight, we’ll make sure to close the windows. The female dorm was too hot, so we’ll make sure to open the windows tonight. In the morning, the kitchen crew woke up early to make breakfast. Five of us went over to a nearby meadow to set up a malaise trap: a mesh tent that serves as a passive insect collecting tool. When insects fly in, they hit the sides of the tent, travel upwards, and get trapped in a 95% ethanol concentration. When we walked back from setting up the trap, we saw a doe and her fawn. A great way to start the morning!

For breakfast, we had delectable make-your-own breakfast burritos, as well as a vegetarian option and fresh fruits. During breakfast, we played a very intense and high stakes game of Uno. Right afterwards, we received an insightful presentation from the manager of the field station, Jeff. We then visited the fish house (imagine an aquarium tank built straight in to a natural stream) where we saw little creatures including sculpin, juvenile trout, caddisfly larvae, mayfly larvae, and hydra. Afterwards, we learned about stream systems and macro invertebrates. What is a macro invertebrate? Macro invertebrates are a variety of different arthropods that live in bodies of water.

From there, we began our group project, where we asked the question: do macroinvertebrate communities vary in different riffles (fast moving water over rocks) and different environmental gradients (light, sediment type, fish presence) in Sagehen Creek. We counted fish and observed streamside habitat. Returning from the creek, we had refreshing sandwiches and scrumptious snacks for lunch. And or course, lots of water.

We then chose our roles for the rest of our group project in which we collected data on macro invertebrates in the creek. We went back out into the creek to sample invertebrates, water quality, algae, and rock size. Our greatest discovery was a salmonfly, which is about a finger length in size. This species is surprising in its ability to live up to eight years. Our Kick Net Karate Master has the role of stirring up the cobble to collect what traveled along the creek. This would later be sorted through by others to discover what macro invertebrates lingered in the mysterious waters.

When we finished sampling the first three of our six sites, we returned to camp and took a break. Some of us took a shower while most of us played an exciting game of Uno. The last three of us were on dinner duty and whipped up a delicious meal of seasoned fish, cooked vegetables, and rice. For dessert, we had homemade Rice Crispy Treats. We continued to play Uno (we’re addicted) for a while before heading to the classroom to learn about possible individual projects. Not many of us have decided what we want to research for the project but we are keeping it secret until tomorrow! >;3 As the night progresses, some will be going to bed while others will be setting up the black light to attract nocturnal insects.

How the authors feel about camp:

“I feel that, so far, my experience has been very eye-opening and I am learning lots about insects and watershed science. Can’t wait to continue learning and discovering new…… to be continued” –Andre

“So far, I have been having lots of fun and exciting new experiences with my new made friends. I’ve learned so much over these past few days and can’t wait to continue discovering new things!” – Audrey :3

“I have been having a really fantastic time. This has been a really unique and cool experience for me. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here at Sagehen Creek.” -Noah

“This has been a great learning experience, and I’ve been learning so much these past few days! I’ve made so many friends all over the world, and it has been so much fun!” – Taylor

See y’all on the next awakening!!!

To be continued….




Driving, Driving, Davis, Driving, Driving, Driving… Sagehen

Greetings parents,


Today we woke up to a rising sun at 6:30. Our hardworking breakfast crew sacrificed some of their sleep to make us a fabulous breakfast of scrambled and purgatory (eggs in last night’s tomato sauce) eggs, sausages, bagels, and cantaloupe. As we were packing up to head back to Davis, one of our instructors spotted a pacific rattlesnake. It was headed under some rocks but we got to snag some photos and oohs and ahhs at a safe distance, under counselor supervision, and with great caution before it found safety under the rocks. We finished up packing and had a chill ride back to Davis.


Once we got back to Davis, we went to the Bohart Museum of Entomology and looked at the insect collection, both alive and dead. We got to handle Australian Leaf Insects who constantly “danced” and waved their arms around. According to museum personnel they moved constantly to mimic leaves. The stick bug felt and acted just like a tree branch. It kept climbing up one of our arms. They had a surprisingly big collection of live black widows, and we got to touch one of their webs. The feeling of the web was strong, rubber band like, and not very sticky to the touch. They had a vast collection of preserved insects—from giant moths to tinsy tiny flies and mosquitos. We also learned about a lot about botflies while we were there.


We had some quick sandwiches for lunch and continued into the herbarium (a collection of dried plants). We saw some very interesting dried plants including a milkweed, a fern from the 1800’s, and a giant seed that was more than three feet in circumference.


We then ventured into a tropical rainforest, aka the Botanical Gardens of UC Davis. We were surrounded by a variety of giant leaves, vines, carnivorous plants, and cacti. Mr. Ernesto showed us around the plant packed greenhouses. He exhibited exotic plants from all around the world including: cacao plants, a 9ft leaf (corpse flower plant), and fruit that aggressively popped when exposed to moisture. In addition, we did a quick pit stop in the general biology lab to see how those run.


We moseyed under the scorching sun into the heavenly air-conditioned Center for Watershed Science where were welcomed by a group of Davis students. They allowed us to observe them dissecting fish and examining micro-plankton and daphnia under microscopes. Afterword, we became children again and played in a topographical sand box. The sand box mimicked changing elevations in real time.


We loaded up the vans and made way up to Sagehen. We noticed the change in vegetation as we ascended the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. We divided into two groups: the chill van and the crazy van. One of the camper vans had fun listening to Disney music and playing Heads Up. The other van slept and read enjoyable novels.


We arrived at Sagehen, unpacked, organized our food, and scarfed down a yummy dinner of sausages, hamburgers, and baked beans after a long car trip. And now we are getting ready for lights out and look forward to another exciting adventure-science packed day!


-Beeloggers out : ) Chris, Isabel, and Alisa




Kicking off our Week of Fun and Ecology, 2018

Hello friends and family! Hello to everyone! It’s great to get this thing going once again with an awesome new crew! Unfortunately, internet was down for our first night so our first post is coming in a bit late now that we’re back in civilization. So without further adieu, we blog!

Getting to Camp:

Some of us were nervous, others were excited, or even both. It was awkward meeting everyone at first but over time we all grew more comfortable with each other. We played games and icebreakers to get to know each other better.


Goofy awkward beginnings

We went to the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology (MFWB) and it was very exciting and interesting to see all of the taxidermied animals. We saw a baby harbor seal, several different types of quail, and the paw of a tiger. Some of the authors’ favorites were the pelt of an African Lion, the pelt of a sea otter, and the arctic fox pelt. The pelt of the lion was coarse and not very soft; it was smaller than we expected it to be. The sea otter pelt was very fluffy and soft to touch but not as soft as the arctic fox and its pelt.


Harbor Seal Pelt! So soft!


Next we set out for Quail Ridge! On our way up to the reserve, we separated into two vans and each van had a different way of keeping entertained during the car ride. Kyle entertained his group by telling us the story of him and an accidental rattlesnake encounter. The other group, entertained by Caroline, made small talk and learned more about each other through the tales of their summer adventures.


Quail Ridge Reserve! With a great view of Lake Berryessa!

The location: The tent cabins are large and comfortable with a balcony that led to an amazing view. Speaking of the view, it is very beautiful and overlooks Lake Berryessa and the surrounding plants and wildlife. It was ExTrEmElY hot, and even the cool breeze couldn’t stop the scorching heat.


BBC Crew 2018!

We took refuge from the heat in the field house to wait for things to cool down outside. We played games, looked through our traveling library, and had a discussion about science. We discussed the process of science and learned difference between observations, experiments, models, and literature review and discussed the benefits of each. We then made a pasta dinner and geared up for an evening hike.


Flipping cover boards to see who’s using them as habitat

The hike was 1 ½ miles long and strenuous, with steep trails and switchbacks. However, we pushed on and prevailed and saw many amazing creatures along the way. We saw scorpions, beetles, spiders, and crickets. We shined a blacklight on the scorpions and watched them glow. At one point we even saw bats! There were trees that had smooth bark called Manzanita trees and we saw poison oak in great abundance. As a group, we saw examples of other experiments by scientists which showed us how scientists worked out and about. During the hike, we had the chance to bond more over this challenging excursion and we learned to lend each other strength.

Highlights below:

Turning in for the night:

At the end of the day and the end of a long hike, we returned back to the field station, showered, and prepared for bed in the tents. The guys talked about how raccoons are naturally bulletproof late into the night. Sometime in the night we were greeted with the sight of a longhorn beetle (Prionus californicus)! It was 5 cm long!


Long Horn Beetle! We watched this little critter in a viewing tank for a bit and then released it.

That’s it for day 1! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for day 2!

-Team A (aka Team Hypogriff): Sierra, Alfredo, Lucia, Kyle

Friday and Saturday, July 28th and 29th, 2017.

Friday and Saturday, July 28th and 29th, 2017

Today is a special blog post, where each student shared the most important thing about their experience, personally and at the group level. The answers they gave are transcribed almost verbatim (ums and extra “likes” deleted).


I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with anyone but this group of 12 people.

For most of my life I have been settled with just enough. I didn’t think I needed anything more than what I already had. But coming to this camp, it honestly shocked me how little I knew. Everyone seemed to be at a higher skill and knowledge level. But this is an incentive to start observing more, to start learning more, to pay attention to my surroundings, and I am glad for it.


When I walked into this camp, I thought I knew a lot about entomology, and now that it’s the last day, I realize there is so much to learn, and I am very excited to learn it.

I feel like we have such good group synergy, we all communicate so well, we speak to each other and we all get along, it makes the camp experience so much better.


This morning I woke up early and sat outside with a good book and a blanket and thought about the entire experience. While I was out there, I was looking around, there was a spider web from the building to the ground. As the sun rose, the web was lit with gold light.

This entire year, I feel like everyone got to know each other, and it was a great experience because throughout the trip, we were able to learn more about each other, and increasingly understand each other’s thirst for knowledge and how their minds work. It has been really cool to see that diversity.


I learned a lot more and I met a lot more people than I thought I was going to. The whole group got along, there was pretty much no tension, everyone could work together well, so we could get our group project done well. There were no fights and everyone cooperated, we got things done.

I knew nothing about Lepidoptera, and now I know a lot more about which butterfly is which, and I learned a lot of this from other students, such as how to pin and who is who.


Honestly, I kind of had lost interest in pinning insects and doing my own research, instead just reading on others research. During this camp, we each did an individual study and found our own results, which reflected our own knowledge and skill. I had forgotten how that had felt. It is a really good feeling to not have to rely on something else, because if you do have such a reliance, then sometimes you can feel that you aren’t doing anything, and you’re just soaking it. That’s ok, but it feels sad to not find anything for yourself, no matter how insignificant that may seem.

I was really surprised how quickly people made friends and got along. I have been to other summer camps, and I have classes, and it is very rare that everyone in a group will get along so well.


After turning my notes into data and analyzing the data, I realized that what I have is actually conclusive, rather than inconclusive as was my impression from my unorganized notes.

Everyone got along and everyone was so great. Everyone made everyone else smile and laugh at multiple points over the week. It’s just so great. It’s definitely something that made the camp so enjoyable.


Personally, I have learned so much here, from the councilors to the students. That’s my main point, yeah, there has been so much new information. And that makes me feel so excited to learn more, there is so much out there to know, and I just want to learn.

There was a great group dynamic. We got along really well. There wasn’t any tension. Everyone made each other laugh and smile, and really, we had a great time overall.


Towards the end of the school year, I kind of lost my love of learning, and I kinda didn’t want to learn anything more. During this camp, I started recovering it. I had the feeling, oh I want to study that, oh I want to observe it. This feels really good for myself, and for my career really. To know that I still have that in me and that the school system hasn’t beaten it out of me, as sad as that sounds, it’s true.

It’s just really really cool to spend time with people who are as passionate about science as I am or even more passionate, and who are ready to share that. With some of my friends I will talk about it, and they’ll go “oh, science, well then. And here, it’s like, “Yes! Explain it to me, tell me how it works.” Oh man, the food is impressive, especially for a camp.


I really didn’t know that much before I came here, but I learned that there is so much to learn. I grew a lot, I learned a lot. I was surprised how well my project went, even though there were several times I was like “what?!?”.

I feel like I have a stronger personal between everyone. Definitely the best group of people I have been with, definitely different, from different places, different views. Everyone accepted for me for who I am. The biggest thing really is that everyone got along. Hahah—my favorite part is the log in lag Tahoe. I couldn’t swim very well, but we had so much fun, even when we went way out into the water and the colors were changing below us. People don’t usually take my ideas, and they loved my idea of getting on the log. It was like we were super close friends by the end.

Thank you for sharing this experience!