Gardening and the Bay: A Future in the Making

Lindsay Bushong, a junior at Drexel University, shares her story of encountering a love for gardening, and the role CBF played along the way.

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Some of the Backyard Beds in Philadelphia, PA

In high school, I took a half day field trip with CBF. I had a blast and when they talked about the summer programs they offered, I knew I had to go. Fast forward a year and I'm two days into a week long adventure down the James River in Virginia. We did various things to learn about the Bay, digging in the detritus, not leaving any trace at our campsites, going to leadership workshops. However, what I remember most is our visit first to a large organic farm, and then to a smaller, urban garden in Richmond. I grew up in a really rural community, but had never seen an organic garden to the scale of the one we visiting in Virginia. There was a beautiful rainwater catchment system and rows upon rows of lush, gorgeous veggies. In the city, we learned about the benefits of having nature in an urban setting, how its good for both people and the environment. While I didn't realize it then, the idea of the "triple bottom line benefit" would follow me to Philadelphia.

I recently began my own social entrepreneurship project, Backyard Beds. Backyard Beds came into fruition for a number of reasons. Having moved to the city from an agricultural community, I was astounded at the lack of fresh food in my neighborhood. Through my academic studies I began to learn about food deserts and food insecurity, which really sparked my interest. My freshman year I worked on an urban farm, and this experience seemed tie together all my passions into one amazing social venture. Through professors, mentors and classmates, I soon found myself managing a small garden only a few blocks from my house at The Dornsife Center. While gardening there, I got to meet a lot of amazing people, but most importantly, I got to meet Mantua (my neighborhood) area residents. These are long-term residents. One afternoon a neighbor was asking how she could build her own raised garden beds, I immediately offered to help, and thus Backyard Beds was born from this interaction.

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Harvested radishes from backyard beds

Our seed funding came from a fellowship with The Resolution Project, an amazing organization helping young people start really cool projects around the world. In the summer of 2013 we built five gardens for five families. Not only are these gardens beautiful and relaxing, but they provide practically free fresh, local produce. Something most Mantua area residents lack. The gardens also decrease stormwater runoff and the heat island effect. We hope to create a small food distribution competent to the project that helps move the food more efficiently around the neighborhood.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been pivotal in my growth and development. I would have never discovered my passion and interests without my experiences in and around the Bay. This project has brought my studies and experiences full circle, giving me the opportunity to create real, meaningful change. In high school, after I got back from I trip I knew I wanted to start a little organic garden. CBF helped me do this, leading to me earning a Certificate of Environmental Leadership. The ways in which CBF facilitate and support students are incredible, and I wish every student could take advantage of the opportunities they have to offer.


A Student's Take on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint

What is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint? A video I recently helped produce with my school's green club, ECO Sherwood at Sherwood High School, working alongside the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Student Leadership program, helps answer that very question:

The Blueprint is a process that coordinates Washington, D.C. and the six states of the Chesapeake Watershed to clean up their pollution to the Bay by 2025. Our video describes the Blueprint and maps out simple things that  students, parents, teachers, or anyone can do in their daily lives to lessen pollution into our beloved Bay. To make the concepts pop, we chose to use a dry-erase whiteboard to display images in a fun way. We also filmed some projects that our club had done, to illustrate more vividly actions that others can take.

This project meant the world to me, as it should since I am a proud resident of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed! I treasure the Bay and all its wonderful resources, and I hope the video can make a difference. All the hard work was well worth the outcome, for now thousands (hopefully) of people will view this video and make some small change to help our Bay.

CBF has always been a part of my life. My mom is a naturalist and loved taking me out with her on many CBF sponsored field trips. I have also been on overnight trips to island education centers, as well as day trips on the Skipjack Stanley Norman, canoes, or boating over oyster restoration projects! CBF has helped open my eyes to the beauty of our Bay and the efforts we can take as citizens to help keep the Chesapeake a marvel for many generations to come.

I hope not just Maryland residents view this video, but citizens from every state in the watershed, and collectively they make a change in their daily routine. While many people think that one small change will have no impact on the Chesapeake's health, but in reality, that is complete crazy talk! Any small change can make a huge impact, because think about it: If every student turned the faucet off while brushing their teeth or washing their hands, it could add up to a lot of water conserved.

The video is imperative for the Bay's health because it promotes the changes we all can make towards helping the Bay, and highlights the efforts our government leaders are also supposed to be taking in order to clean the Bay by 2025. Ultimately, I hope that after viewing the video, people start to see that they can make a difference every day to help save the Bay.

—Hayley Mazur, Class of 2015, Sherwood High School

Share this video with friends and family. We need everyone to know and fight for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!


Running to Save the Bay!

DSC_0077Photos by Jeff Rogge/CBF Staff.  

Nearly 15,000 people ran across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 9, a stream of fit humanity in colorful tech attire arching over the Bay flowing beneath. All deserve praise for participating in the 10k, but one runner in particular, one speck of color out in front of that stream, deserves special mention.

On Saturday, cross country star Shreya Nalubola ran the final race of her illustrious high school career on what has been described as the toughest course in the state. The meet was the Maryland Girls State Cross Country Championship at Hereford High School. She came in third.

Rather than sleep in on Sunday, however, Shreya pulled herself out of bed, and ran the Across the Bay 10k Chesapeake Bay Bridge Race. No easy course itself, the bridge features a two-mile incline. Shreya came in first place in her age group, and 11th overall of 9,662 women runners!

DSC_0084Shreya, a senior at Centennial High School in Howard County, didn't do the Bridge Race just for more exercise, or the spectacular view. She is a student advocate for the Chesapeake Bay. She wanted to do her part to promote the national treasure and to underscore its endangered health.

"In sixth grade, I attended a field trip with my classmates to the Chesapeake Bay, where we were able to experience and study it in-depth. The field trip made an impact on my young mind as we fished for crabs and oysters, convincing me of the importance of preserving the health of our ecosystem," Shreya said.

This past spring Shreya also spent time on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's skipjack Stanley Norman where she learned more about the human impact to the Bay's health. She decided to join CBF's Student Wave Leadership program.

Two other students chose to run in Sunday's race across the iconic bridge from Annapolis to Kent Island as part of their commitment to advocacy. Charlotte Waldman and Garrett Weintrob, both 10th graders at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., help support CBF's Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD, among many other activities.  

"I hope that events such as the Across the Bay 10k will continue to raise awareness about the problems that affect the watershed, including pollution, agricultural development, and deforestation. In the future, perhaps changes can be made and efforts can be put into reducing pollution and restoring forest buffers in order to better support and protect the Chesapeake," Shreya said.

Thanks Shreya, Charlotte, and Garrett! The future of the Bay is in your hands—and running shoes. 

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Maryland Communications Coordinator


Bay Blood

 

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Jacqueline Stomski dreaming of the Bay from far away!

Some kids around here grow up with the Bay in their veins: Boating from Memorial Day to Labor Day; crabbing, fishing, swimming, and tubing all summer long. Their parents grew up here, too—they loved this piece of the world so much that they just couldn't leave.

The Bay might not be the ocean, but it might be something better. It captivates anyone who comes to see it with the mighty trials and tribulations of this delicate ecosystem. A place so rich in history, and we are fortunate enough to call it home.

I've lived here my whole life, but I don't think I can say I quite have Bay Blood. I've never spent my summers on my family's boat, my crabbing experience is limited, in fact I've never picked my own crabs. What I can say though is that whenever I am gone, I miss this sliver of the world desperately.

The first time I felt connected to the Bay was on my first school trip to Echo Hill in elementary school. We collected aquatic organisms to survey the different populations living where the Susquehanna meets the Bay. For the first time, I was on the Bay, in the sun, and I loved it.

At Echo Hill they told us of how when John Smith sailed the Chesapeake, the water was blue and he could see the oysters on the bottom. Looking at the murky waters today, I still struggle to believe that. From that day forward I've dreamed of a blue Bay. 

Jacqueline Stomski, Senior at Annapolis High School and CBF Student Correspondent Spring 2014 

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.


Junior Girl Scouts Defend Bay Cleanup!

  

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CBF President Will Baker speaking with the Girl Scouts of Troop 10324.

Melek is ten-years-old. She wears binoculars around her neck throughout much of the summer and is fascinated by her neighbors. They are: a fox family, egrets, a bald eagle, herons, and ospreys, to name just a few.

You'll often find Melek on the pier at her grandparent's home in Sparrows Point. It juts out into Jones Creek. Melek caught her first sunfish off that pier when she was 18-months-old with a toy rod. These days she fishes and crabs with her grandfather, who also has taught her to hunt and shoot.

Melek's hands-on experiences on the Bay might partially explain her recent remarkable feat. She helped lead her Girl Scout troop into battle with 21 attorneys general around the country who want to stop the cleanup of the Bay.

Girl Scout Junior Troop 10324 from the Sparrows Point and Dundalk areas of Baltimore County was outraged that the attorney generals from states as far away as Alaska, Kansas, and Texas joined the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute to block the cleanup of the Chesapeake. So the girls decided to write each of the officials a letter of objection.

The girls had worked on various Bay restoration projects since they were Brownies. Like Melek, several of the girls grew up around the water. They believe their Girl Scout Promise compels them to work to preserve their treasured Chesapeake. But they became full-blown Bay advocates when they learned the attorneys general were joining the Farm Bureau's court battle.

Patricia George, Melek's grandmother and the scout troop leader, said people are astonished that these elementary school girls were able to research the whole issue and then took action with virtually no help from adults. The girls spent about 20 hours and four meetings and countless phone calls and e-mails to carefully draft the letters to the 21 attorneys general.

"What people don't understand is how 10-year-olds can do this," George said. 

Girl Scout Clara interjected with an even better question: "If we get it, why don’t these politicians get it?"

The girls' efforts started an "avalanche," George said. Other girls now want to join the troop and the campaign. A steady stream of parents from local elementary schools have called George to ask how they and their children can get involved.

As a token of thanks for the troop's committment to Bay restoration, CBF President Will Baker this week gave each of the girls a framed certificate thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.

"We are just so grateful. You are an inspiration to those of us who work on this every day," Baker said.

Even Maryland Governor O'Malley wrote a letter to the troop: "Thank you for your interest in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I am impressed by your activism and outreach efforts. The involvement of citizens like you is critical to the success of the Bay's restoration."

For Girl Scouts Melek, Megan, Clara, Alyssa, Ariyanna, Kaitlyn, Brianna, and Annabelle, the fight isn't over.

Already Melek has designed a Girl Scouts badge for each member of the troop with the words "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Advocate" and a picture of the Bay, a heron, and blue crab.

As Will Baker said to the girls that sunny Wednesday afternoon, "Don't ever lose your determination to make the world a better place." We couldn't agree more.

—Tom Zolper, CBF Maryland Communications Coordinator

Stand up for the Bay and its rivers and streams like these inspiring Girl Scouts! Sign our petition.


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Every scout received a plaque from CBF President Will Baker.


 

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The badge that Melek designed!

 

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The Girl Scouts got outside with CBF Educator Jocelyn. Here, one of the scouts learns how to seine for critters!
 
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Examining the catch!

 

 

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Learning about oysters and how they help clean the Bay's waters!

 Photos by Jen Wallace, Drew Robinson/CBF Staff.


Somewhere Between the Sky and the Water


Photo1Annie Prevas, a rising senior at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore City, visited CBF's Karen Noonan Center with her class in November 2013. Take a look at this vivid, Thoreau-like piece she wrote about her visit.

Our group was pulled from their slumber this morning to watch the Bay come alive as the sun rose. Through the bayberry bushes and across the beach from the house was an old wooden dock. From the dock you could see miles in all directions. The wetlands continued to the north, with soggy grasses swaying as the shallow muck glistened. Small birds swooped up and down over the reeds, looking for food. To the south was the water, flickering with oranges and reds, with islands of Bay mush and tall grasses waving good morning from miles away. To the west were several osprey nests high above our heads.

The waterfowl looked down at us with warning yellow eyes, telling us to care for the land and Bay they call home. We were surrounded by life, but our focus right then, was on the rising sun, welcoming us to the new day with vibrant colors and warmth. The sun began to peek out from the horizon with its rays reaching to the land, giving life. The small slice of the round sun grew taller, until the shadow across the bottom of our sun became evident. The partial solar eclipse was hardly noticeable to most of the world, but we didn't avert our burning eyes once.

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Annie and her friends during their recent trip to CBF’s Karen Noonan Center.

I felt myself living so intensely in this moment. My face was tingling from the slight chill of the November air, and the salty wind blew my hair wildly around my face. I watched  the sun and felt my breath and heart work together to keep me alive. I was somewhere between the sky and the water, watching the light come in, and my appreciation for their roles in keeping the world alive made my heart smile. 

Then, my whole body smiled at the crescent sun. It smiled back by sprinkling pinks and oranges across my face. The dock faded out of my consciousness and became a hammock of wind enveloping me keeping me afloat in a place above the water and below the sky, where I was doing nothing but existing. I was just existing, though it seemed, I was existing more completely than I had before in my life. The sun came up, and the Bay was awake.

Annie Prevas

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.


Shady Side Elementary School Students Take a Stand for the Bay

 

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Shady Side students planting oysters in the West River. Photo courtesy of Shady Side Elementary

The students at Shady Side Elementary School in southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland are no strangers to the Bay and life on the water. The town of Shady Side is located on a peninsula, surrounded on the north and west by the West River and on the east by the Chesapeake. Many students are children of watermen who still crab, oyster, and fish to make a living. The school sits less than a quarter mile from the water—and CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center.

So, last year, when 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel asked their students to "Take a Stand" for a cause, the Bay seemed like the natural choice.

"These students were raised on the water. They're surrounded by it every day and, for many, its health has a direct impact on their lives. The students worked with CBF last year to grow oysters and then planted them in the West River. Meghan Hoffman and the rest of CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration team really got the kids excited about oysters—and showed them that they can make a difference," said Tremel.

The students were so motivated they wrote letters and hand-delivered them to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin urging them to continue funding Bay restoration. But they didn't stop there.

They took it one step further—creating postcards, developing a business plan, and selling the cards to friends, family, and others—to raise money to support the Bay. Their efforts were highly successful. In two years, they've raised nearly $4,000 to help CBF grow and plant more oysters in the Bay!

John Rodenhausen, Maryland Director of Development, was on-hand for this year's check presentation and was able to address the nearly 60 5th graders involved in this project. "As an educator and a fundraiser for CBF, it is moments like this that give me greater confidence that the Chesapeake will be saved, not just in these students' lifetimes, but in mine, too!"

The project has become a staple of the 5th grade experience—and a bit of a competition, too. Weckel explained, "We've already spoken to the incoming class about the project. They're excited and energized by the opportunity to raise more money for CBF than last year's class!"

We all have a role to play in saving the Chesapeake. CBF is grateful to the entire Shady Side Elementary School community, including 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel, as well as their students, for their support, ingenuity, and hard work.

Together, we will Save the Bay and its rivers and streams!

Brie Wilson, Donor Communications Manager 

Read more about the Shady Side Elementary School Students' efforts here!


Fourth Graders Work to Reduce Waste


NewAfter participating in CBF's Smith Island Education Program, our school (Chesapeake Public Charter School) realized how much of our food we might be wasting. So, we decided to start monitoring our lunch leftovers. We started small, just sorting the leftovers from 4th graders. Student volunteers, headed up by Smith Island alumna Debra Rosenstadt, began to help their peers sort their leftovers into: Recycling, Compost/Vermicompost, S.L.O.P. ("Stuff Left on Plate"), and landfill. 

Each day, these volunteers stayed in from recess to weigh the amounts of each and graph it on our class line plot (to the nearest ¼ pound). Certainly a dirty job, so look out Mike Rowe! Our S.L.O.P. Cops spread the word on how to reduce waste: saving it for later, snack share (a special bin to leave it in for others to take if wanted), etc.

As a school we have always recycled, composted, and vermi-composted (each grade has their own work bin). But, this school year, we decided to go schoolwide with the S.L.O.P. program as well. Two fourth graders each month volunteered to be S.L.O.P. Cops. They collected, consolidated, and weighed the S.L.O.P. from 331 students, grades K-8. The S.L.O.P. this year was picked up each afternoon by a local organic farmer, Brett Grosghal from Even' Star Farm. He uses the S.L.O.P. to feed his nine hogs and flock of chickens, so our waste was recycled back into food we could eat (a great lesson in where food comes from, especially bacon and eggs!). Chesapeake Public Charter School (CPCS) even has five resident chickens that take in some of our S.L.O.P., just on a smaller scale than the organic farm. CPCS chicken eggs are sold to our school families looking for a local, organic option. As Katelyn Kovach, 4th grader and CBF Smith Island alumna, puts it, "Your S.L.O.P. made my breakfast!"

Our 4th grade S.L.O.P. Cop volunteers learned other skills as well. They used Microsoft Excel to keep track of the data, researched facts about pigs, chickens, landfills, and made daily announcements to share the data and information with our school community. Included in their announcements were "SLOPPY Shout Outs" commending students or classes that did very well with reducing their S.L.O.P. that day.

During the 2012-2013 school year, Chesapeake Public Charter School prevented more than 800 pounds of unused energy in the form of food scraps from going to a landfill and instead helped recycle it into locally grown food.

April Skinner, Fourth Grade Chesapeake Public Charter School Teacher  


Susquehanna Odyssey

CBF's Student Leadership Course Along the Mighty Susquehanna

This week high schoolers are exploring and investigating the Bay’s largest tributary—the great Susquehanna River—with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). As they paddle through the Susquehanna River Trail visiting rural and urban communities along the way, students will meet experts and use film, photography, journaling, fishing, chemistry, and even plein air painting. These multimedia creations will be used to piece together a diverse study of the regions past, present, and future, leading to a greater understanding of the local watershed. Check out the first few photos of the CBF course below!

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Travels by Canoe

Student Leadership Blogs: Mountains to the Bay

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Day 1: Sunday, July 24

After meeting the other campers in the parking lot, we started our drive to Weaverton Cliffs. About halfway there, we took a short stop at Harper’s Ferry to look at a map and learn where we were and what we were planning to do shortly before starting off again. We arrived at the base of the cliffs, took a quick snack break, and began our hike. It seemed a lot longer than it really was; but after a lot of switchback and sweating, we finally made it to the top. The view over the Potomac was amazing because the highway next to it was blocked by trees. Ready to learn more about our week, we gathered around a few maps while the leaders pointed out some key points on our journey. A while later (after some more sightseeing), we started down the mountain. Everybody agreed that the hike down was definitely easier! We reached the cars and started the drive to Watermelon Park.

When we arrived, the leaders taught us ho  w to set up our tents, and we began immediately building “shelter.” We definitely enjoyed our time in the sun but it was nice to sit in front of a warm meal (courtesy of the CBF staff!) and relax. Pic 2
Our lovely dinner consisted of fried chicken, potato salad, and a dinner roll or two. Dessert was a slice of watermelon...not grown from Watermelon Park (ironic, isn’t it?). Afterwards, the leaders gathered us in a circle and introduced to us The Group Contract, full of traits and rules that we each deliberated on and agreed to follow. Last but not least, we brushed our teeth, changed our clothes, and went to sleep after watching the sunset. A great ending to our first day!

                                                         —Sarah Kemp

Day 2: Monday, July 25

Pic 3 We started our day to a musical wake-up call (Aretha Franklin) at 6 a.m. A few people woke up quickly, but most had trouble getting out of bed that early! We packed our bags for the canoeing trip and went to breakfast (a cereal, bagel, and oatmeal buffet). We took a shuttle to the put-in site where we got assigned to canoe groups based on experience and talked about the topic for the day: Tolerance for Adversity & Uncertainty. Knowing that it would be a long, hard paddle, but excited anyways, we pushed off and began.

The river was mostly smooth, with some small rapids. Everyone learned quickly to “read the river” and find the V’s in the water that signified safe passage around the rocks. It was exhausting, but exciting work, as we shot bilge pumps and splashed each other with water on our way down the river. After canoeing for around three hours, we stopped for sandwiches and some wading in the river before continuing on. Finally, after about four and a half hours of intense work, we arrived back at the camp site. We had gone 10 miles, and seen somewhere around 12 blue herons, seven bald eagles, cows, two red herons, and tons of geese. The sense of accomplishment everyone had was enormous, and we went into town for ice cream to celebrate. It was too rainy to hike to an overlook of what we had done, but we went back to the campsite and surveyed the stream for macro invertebrates to determine water quality. Lastly, dinner was prepared by the cook crew, and it was stir fry veggies, chicken, and dinner rolls with watermelon and a cookie for dessert. The perfect second day.  

     —Valentina Lohr

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Night 2 and Day 3: Tuesday, July 26

As the night continued, we assembled our belongings, preparing for our departure from Watermelon Park the next day. Organizing our clothes and wet bathing suits, we grew sad because so many memories had already happened at that campsite. Then, we gathered in our nightly circle, and began reflecting on the adventures of the day. Our leader Christy asked us to list our “snapshot moments,” and we began to speak about the cattle in the water, Pic 10 the Blue Ridge Mountains lying in front of us, and the expressions we made when finding something cool in the water. We described the numerous ways that we represented “Tolerance with Adversity and Uncertainty,”  which was the day’s leadership theme. We stared at the amazing moonlit sky, and we made a makeshift fire with a citronella candle. Although we had only met the day before, we already felt like family. Heading into our tents, we slowly, one by one, fell asleep, listening to the river flowing and the crickets singing in the trees.

The next morning, we woke up to the joyous tunes of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. Although it took a very long time to finally open our eyes, we quickly broke down the tents and packed our belongings into our duffel bags, loading them into the truck.  Since this was our ticket to breakfast, upon completion, we devoured our cereal, bagels, and bananas. Making sure we had left Watermelon Park exactly as we found it, we walked around the campsite, picking up all leftover supplies. After piling into the “Truck Duck” and “Party Roadkill Van” as the two cars are named, we drove away from the last two days of camping. Then, we came to a pavilion located near the Blue Ridge Mountains, where we are about to learn all about this new landscape and its animals, before settling amongst one. 

 Jackie Siegel

 

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Afternoon of Day 3: Tuesday, July 26

As we sat on the paint-splattered picnic tables and felt the shade of the forest, Amber, from the Blue Ridge Mountain Animal Refuge, sacrificed her own time to show three of the animals IMG_1539
from the rehabilitation center. Our group fell in love with Sugar the flying squirrel, Lucy the red-shouldered hawk, and Sheldon the Eastern Shore box turtle. During Amber’s presentation, we even witnessed a rescue when a baby blue jay landed on Christy’s arm begging for food. As a few campers went to the outhouse, the group discussed the leadership trait of the day, “Self-awareness.”

We finished our discussion on empathy and the definition of self-awareness while our leaders assigned cook crews for the rest of the week. We’re all looking forward to all the delicious dinners that are going to be devoured by our hungry group. We climbed into our cars and prepared for the long two-hour trip to Uncle Ed’s Farm which is also known as Mulberry Grove, the birthplace of U.S. President John Hanson (President of the Continental Congress in 1781).

Eventually we reached our destination where we quickly set up tents, something we’ve all become quite good at. As we sat and talked in the shade and looked out at the amazing view from the yard, we prepared for a trip to the grocery store for the meals we’ll all be making. Our cars pulled into the hot asphalt of Safeway Pic 7 where we were all so glad for the air-conditioning, and the food in the aisles made all our stomachs grumble. We split up along the aisles, grabbing the necessary ingredients for all of our dinners and paid for our many groceries. We stuffed our cars with our items and drove back to our campsite where a cook crew made a dinner of barbeque chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and green beans. The hot chicken slipped out of our fingers as we took in the beautiful view of the white picket fence and the rolling hills. We quickly cleaned up dinner and settled back in for a group discussion for our evening plans. The majority voted for a night canoe and so we grabbed our headlamps and bathing suits and headed out for a beautiful night-time paddle.

As we took the short ride to the push-off in Nanjomoy Creek, we used all of our five senses to revel in the beautiful sights and sounds. The scene seemed so beautiful, like a painting. Pic 9 The water seemed to take the form of glass; the beautiful dark blue sky was with scattered stars; the trees appeared black in the shade; the croaking of the green tree frogs and the musty smell of mud and water mixed with rich,  fresh air. As we sat in silence, our paddles rippling in the water, we ate our dessert and learned about the marsh grasses. We quietly paddled back and put the canoes back by using our teamwork and cooperation skills. The cars quickly pulled out and we headed back to camp where we all immediately dozed off with our arms still sore. As we laid in our tents, we all fell asleep to the crickets singing.

 Alice Yang

 

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Day 4: Wednesday, July 27  

We never thought that 7:30 a.m. would be sleeping in until this trip! As the wake-up calls came, we packed up camp, ready for a new destination. We loaded in to the Duck Truck and Party Road Kill Van, and we headed to the Zekiah Swamp to explore. Pic 4

We paddled through twists and turns and, finally, we were blocked by a fallen tree. Thinking we were only going wading, we explored the swamp in waist-deep water, not knowing we were getting a big surprise...SOAP! Before embarking on this adventure, we never imagined taking a bath in a swamp with biodegradable dish soap would be so refreshing.

We got back in the cars and drove to Colton’s Point. When we arrived on the beach of the Potomac River, there was another surprise in store for us. They told us we were releasing a wild bunny that was given to us at the Blue Ridge Mountains Animal Rehabilitation Center but instead it was...SODA! After the sweet treat, we paddled across the Potomac River and arrived at St. Clements Island. We set up camp on a beautiful bluff. Watching the sun set on the beach, we prepared a delicious dinner of Mac&Cheese and chicken. Now we are sitting on the pier, overlooking the mighty Potomac River.

 Meg, Jackie, Cassidy, Kayla, Nora

 

Morning of Day 5: Thursday, July 28

Today we woke up with the sun at 6:30 a.m. We broke down camp, and had a nutritious breakfast of bagels and cereal and last night’s dessert! We canoed back to Colton’s Point, and got in the Roadkill Party Bus and Duck Truck for the last time. We traveled two hours in the car to Point Lookout State Park to eat lunch (tuna fish, make-your-own sandwiches, and a snack buffet) and then boarded the Bay Eagle with Captain Larry. After loading the boat, we cranked up the radio and headed to Fox Island, all the while everyone was dancing and singing along! We’re looking forward to our stay at Fox Island, with actual beds and running water! 

 Valentina Lohr and Kayla Paxton

 

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Afternoon of Day 5: Thursday, July 28

Retreat 081 After we arrived at Fox Island, we met the CBF staff and unloaded the boat. But almost as soon as we were on land, we got back into the Bay Eagle. We looped around the island and did some crabbing. We had to fit dead fish into the bait box of the crab pot, so we kissed them (eeewww!) and then ripped them in half so they fit inside the crab pots to attract crabs. There were blood and guts everywhere! Next, we drove around to the front of the lodge, which stands in the middle of the water. From there we filed into our dorms, where they actually had beds! It was our first time on the journey not in a tent. Then we learned about the safety of the island.

Following that, the cook crew made a pasta bar, which was delicious. A bit later, the Fox Island Program Manager Matt suggested we go outside. We didn’t really IMG_1724 know what to expect, but as soon as we got outside, we saw tons of comb jellies in the water, which light up in the water at night. They looked like underwater fireflies! Some of them washed up on the beach, and we were able to pick them up because they don’t sting. When we got inside, we did a fun activity about natural resourses and respect for our peers. After that, we were all so exhausted that we collapsed into bed.

  Liam Thomas and Tripp McGuire

 

 Day 6: Friday, July 29

Jumping
We started the day bright and early. As we watched the sun come up we all had no idea what time it was because we were on island time! After we watched the sunrise, we got right to our last day at Fox Island. This was our fullest day so we had to eat a big breakfast consisting of cereal, bagels, oatmeal, and anything else that was in the kitchen.

After breakfast we all boarded the Jenny S and headed to Cedar Island and went proging. While we were proging we saw a black widow inside a dead horseshoe crab. We then headed back to Fox Island and ate root beer floats prepared by our great leaders. Afterwards we boarded the Jenny S and headed out with the scraper and caught lots of little critters (northern puffer fish, soft shell crabs, and a baby speckled trout.) We then headed in and had our last lunch on Fox Island.

After lunch we put on our dirty clothes and walked across the canal to big island (an island made completely of marsh land). We all knew this meant time for MARSH MUCKING! Our first obstacle course was known as ankle break alley. After we had survived the holes and mud of ankle break alley we were in mud neck high. Our second obstacle was making canon balls. We had to run and jump into a huge hole of mud. Everything from head to toe was covered in mud! We then walked through the marsh to belly slide hole. This is where we had to run and slide on our bellies, and then a lot of us just played in the mud (Tripp even lost his shoe!). When everyone was done playing it was time to declare marsh king and queen...this is where you had to make your way somehow or another across a pond of mud. It was a very close race but Kayla was declared Marsh Queen and Tripp Marsh King. 

As we headed back across the canal we scrubbed all the mud off and then continued to a bay shower on the dock where we had SOAP! For dinner we had tacos. Afterwards we had a graduation where we all received a T-shirt and a nice comment from one of our peers. After graduation, we did a little star gazing. All of us changed into our pajamas and headed to bed on our last night on Fox Island knowing how early we were going to have to get up to pack and check crab pots.

 Kayla Paxton

Group