Wilderness and Natural Science Program Update

At Frye, we have been having Monday afternoon Natural science and wilderness enrichment blocks for both the mini barn and lodge groups.

We had a lesson on the life cycles of frogs and the biological processes they go through. We discussed the different stages of life or Metamorphisms from the laying and fertilization of eggs, to tadpoles, to froglets, to frogs. The participants found it interesting how the different stages of life were so unique and radically different from each other. For example how tadpoles breath with gills, frogs can breathe with lungs on the land and through their skin while in the water. We went and observed frogs through the different stages of life at the trout pond which has a plethora of specimens’. Many of the participants were surprised at how much they learned about these unique amphibians.

I was recently inspired to discuss the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) with our residents after this invasive species was discovered in Northern Maine.  The Emerald Ash Borer has killed hundreds of millions of Ash trees and has spread through 34 States since the insect was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. This insect is thought to have been transported to North America through creates transported from Asia. With our participants we took a hike to EAB detection/ monitoring site on Frye Mountain.  We had discussions about the impact invasive species can have on the natural environment both in Maine and in different regions.  We discussed the impact that the EAB has had across North America and what is at risk with Maine.  The participants were taught how to identify the insect and how recognize signs and symptoms that it is present. After the lesson we investigated a variety of alive and dead Ash trees; we were excited that our search came up empty.

Recently, we went on a wilderness outing with the Farm House Boys group.  Sunday morning we hiked around the campus to our camp site which is located on the back side of the Beaver Pond. When we arrived at our site we were immersed in a day of learning the wilderness ways and skills at our camp site. We set up the wall tent for the group shelter; This was a little more difficult this time around because unbeknownst to me, over the winter, the tent frame was used for an activity and some of the poles were bent. All of the participants set up their individual tarp shelters for a personal space and had fun showing them off to their peers. After the shelters are in place we worked on collecting firewood for our cooking fire and then proceed with dinner. After dinner we cleaned up camp and then had discussions around the camp fire prior to bed.

On Monday, we woke up and had a hot breakfast. We cleaned up our camp site and packed our bags for a day of adventure. We hiked the trail around Frye Mountain. This trail is moderate in difficulty with some short bursts of steep sections. The 6 mile trail passes through mixed and coniferous forests, parallels a wonderful stretch of Bartlett Stream, the northern-most feeder stream of the St. George River, and crosses Frye’s summit at 1,139 feet. The trail also passes through a few different blueberry barrens which were not yet ripe for the sampling.

Our hike was at a leisurely pace, with periodic stops for snacks, and discussions. We arrived back at our camp site mid-afternoon. After we arrived back at the site, the residents had a writing assignment about what nature has done for their self-awareness and self-discovery. After the group had some down time to work on their assignment and recuperate from the hike; we made a fire and started dinner prep. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner which was cooked over a fire. Dinner clean up and personal hygiene time and an evening camp fire wrapped up the day.

The group woke up and made a fire and we enjoyed a hot breakfast of Johnny cakes cooked over the fire. We completely packed up camp and swept the area for forgotten items. We enjoyed a low key day prior to returning to the Farmhouse campus around 10:00. When we arrive back on campus we unpacked gear and had the residents get cleaned up and ready for the week.

This past weekend, we are had a similar trip for the farm house girls group. Their trip had slight variations to accommodate a graduation early on Monday morning. We will also had warmer than normal temperatures which caused plans to change to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment. We will be having two more summer wilderness trips for the farm house groups in August and two autumn trips in September and in October.