One visitor we’ve been missing at camp is the Mule Deer. This seasonal friend has traveled just a bit lower in elevation than our snowy mountain for a couple months to find food. The Mule deer’s diet consists of grasses and flowering plants. They are crepuscular so we usually see them foraging on our fields early morning or early night time; using it as a safe haven from predators like coyotes and mountain lions. One particular adaptation this creature has is it’s large furry ears. The fur, size, and movement of the ears are crucial to amplifying it’s sense of hearing, making them highly aware of any predators lurking by. Coming up soon in late May or June we will be seeing some spotted fawn following closely to their mother. These peaceful visitors are a treat.
We're taking some time to feature and thank some of the staff members that have worked with us this year. Our first person is Program Instructor Klynn! Thank you for joining us and the students outside this year!
Where are you from?
I grew up in Lake Elsinore, CA, went to college in Santa Barbara, CA, but have also lived in Louisiana, Virginia, Italy, Australia, and the Solomon Islands.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Favorite Disney movie?
There are so many to choose from!! But I’d have to go with Up.
What was your favorite class / teacher in school?
My all time favorite class was a Methods of Environmental Health and Science course during my study abroad in Australia/Solomon Islands! We performed lots of hands-on research practices in temperate rainforests, inactive volcanic islands, and coral reefs. My professor for this course had such a passion for science himself, and that really inspired me to push further in my own research, it was a course I will never forget!
What brought you to TP?
What drew me to Thousand Pines was the camaraderie of the staff, fun working environment, and beautiful location in the mountains! I grew up always going to science camp, and Thousand Pines seemed like the perfect place where I could go back and use my degree to help spark a passion and curiosity of science in younger students, giving back in a way to those who poured into me at camps when I was younger.
What's your favorite Trail at TP and why?
I LOVE the Botany Trail because you really get the chance to explore away from camp and out into the forest. You get to see a change of seasons when you’re out there, from the fall leaves to the heavy snow in the winter, it becomes very picturesque. Stopping to tell stories about the Mystery Tree, Twin Brothers, and Mama Oak have always been a favorite, there are just some really neat opportunities to see nature up close and let the students experience that!
What's your favorite Camp meal?
Taco Tuesday dinner! I love Mexican Food so the chicken tacos were my fave, but I also couldn’t resist having a churro…or three!
What's your favorite dance from dance night?
My go-to dance that I would teach was the Cowboy Macarena, I loved telling an elaborate history behind the dance before teaching the students. I love the Interlude though! So fun & high energy!
What 5 things would you carry in your survival pack?
I am looking forward to pursuing my career in the environmental sciences field, hopefully in conservation or climate change mitigation. Whatever I end up doing, I always hope it will involve something outdoors! There is so much to see, explore, research, and learn from the outdoors, so having a job that would allow me to do all those things would be a blast!
We've had a few warm sunny days on the mountain creating a great opportunity for animals to uncover some food they've stored during our snowy weeks. The birds are out and about, especially many of our small, white chested Nuthatches. Something unique about this species of bird is their capability to walk or hop upside down on the bark of a tree. They have a backward pointing claw that allows them to travel downward and because of their short tail, they won't fall over. This is an amazing adaptation because it allows them to have different vantage points when storing and looking for food; Other birds look upward into crevices for bugs and may not spot them, yet Nuthatches get to see up and downward seeing those bugs others missed. A Nuthatches diet consists of seeds and insects. When storing food, they will find a crack in between bark to place seeds and then cover it up with nearby lichen or other bark to hide safely. This tiny ball of feathers has really surprised us with it's clever skills.
Thousand Pines Outdoor Science School has closed for the remainder of this school year as part of the bigger effort to flatten the curve. Safety is our priority, for our guests and our staff team. During this closure we've donated medical supplies that would normally be for our guests to our local hospital and our kitchen is using the remaining food to bake bread for our local community.
We know that schooling for most of you has moved online, and we want to help. Some of our team is still working on resources for schools, teachers, students, and families to use for the rest of the school year and into summer. This includes science lessons to do at home, video "hikes" for instruction, and activities for a family to do together. If you want to make a request or a suggestion, please use our contact form.
We are also spending some time preparing for next school year: revising our curriculum and planning new activities. We're already taking applications and doing interviews for our positions here, which you can visit on our jobs page.
To our staff: we are so thankful for your hard work and the love and care you have shown to each other and to our guests.
To the teachers and students who attended this year (or any year): thank you for making each week enjoyable, memorable, and unique.
To the teachers and students who were unable to attend this year: we encourage you to find new ways to learn, grow, and experience the outdoors, safely of course. And who knows - maybe you'll end up working here some day. We can't wait to find out.
While we miss having students here, we are taking advantage of this time and discovering ways to adapt to our new surroundings without students present. There is much more wildlife action around camp and it's been fun watching and learning more about our furry residents. One of them is the ground squirrel. These brown squirrels differ from the typical tree-nesting Grey Squirrel because they live in burrows in the ground. Their burrows can be anywhere from 5ft to 40ft deep. When searching for food such as manzanita berries, grass seeds, acorns, and insects, they never stray too far from their front door. Burrows are key to keeping them safe: in most you'll find a creative tunnel system with nurseries, food storage, and escape routes.
In the quiet, we can hear them too: if they sense danger they'll stand up on their hind legs and shout with a high pitched, sharp alarm call. The biggest predator for the Ground Squirrel is the rattlesnake, and luckily they have a few different survival techniques. One amazing adaptation this squirrel has is heating its tail and waving it at the rattlesnake to confuse and intimidate the snake, since rattlesnakes can sense infrared.