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Monday, July 26, 2010

Champ Camp

I left my home with my 18 year old daughter at 3 a.m. to make the 10 hour drive to Button Bay State Park in Vergennes, Vermont.

It was raining the entire time we drove and by the time we arrived at the camp, the rain had dissipated to a drizzle.

The camp was already set up and Craig, Mike and Diana were waiting for the others to arrive.  I decided to entertain my daughter since it was raining and we took a drive towards Burlington to visit the Vermont Teddy Bear Company AND the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory.

By the time we returned to camp, Bill Dranginis and Dave McCollough had set up camp, and Mike and Diana had the grill going with some good eats!

The camp activities began at 7 a.m. on Saturday with a yoga class on a grassy plateau overlooking the beautiful Lake Champlain.  Diana Smith of the Believe it Tour is a certified yoga instructor and she took the time to guide us through the poses.  It was amazing!  The weather had cleared and the view was breathtaking!

We then changed into our hiking clothes and headed off to the Nature Center.  We were joined by a family of 5 who were very interested in the Champ Camp activities and asked many questions of Diana who was leading the nature hike. 

We headed down to the shore and Diana helped us identify fossils in the rocks.  I loved this part personally.  Lake Champlain used to be a body of salt water that was cut off from the rest of the ocean by glaciers millions of years ago, and just knowing that the rocks contained fossils of creatures and plant life from that time is simply fascinating!

We then returned to the camp and watched a video about the bottled water industry.  It was eye-opening and informative.  Craig Wooheater spoke about water ecology and what we need to do to preserve water as a natural resource on this planet.

The next presentation was on casting techniques presented by Mike Esordi and Bill Dranginis.  My daughter was a participant, sticking her tiny hand into the dirt, to be cast in plaster of Paris. 

While the plaster was drying, Diana Smith, who is also a micro-biologist as well as a certified yoga instructor, gave an enlightening presentation on evidence gathering.  She showed us the proper way to retrieve hair and blood samples.  She stressed the importance of documenting every step of your research. 

It is important for Cryptozoologists to utilize scientific approaches to research in order for scientists to begin to consider our research as credible.  At the onset of every outing, start making notes in your journal.  What time you begin your hike, at what point you find evidence.  Photograph the evidence.  Write down the condition of the evidence and the circumstance in which you made the discovery.  Indicate time of day, weather conditions, if there are other people in the area.

One startling revelation was that when you collect a hair or blood sample, not only do you mark and seal your evidence, but you should be storing it in the proper container.

For all of these years, we have been taking hair or blood samples and placing them in a plastic baggie.  It was revealed that the hair or blood sample will be come charged by the static electricity created by the plastic and the static will eventually pull apart and destroy your sample!

The best envelope used for evidence collecting, from a forensic standpoint, is the glassine envelope.  "Not only can you see through them, they are made of paper so they will also breathe. Ideal for trace evidence."

We then had a little bit of a break and Rachel and I went to a local restaurant and grabbed some lunch, when we returned it was time for arts and crafts!  Bruce had returned and had set up his Taj Mahal of tents, much to the chagrin of our neighbor across the lot.  'Nuff said.

We painted our Champ Camp plaques, then donned our sailing gear to head off to Burlington to board the Spirit of Ethan Allen to embark on our voyage of Lake Champlain and to hopefully catch our glimpse of the elusive one! (No, not Abe Del Rio)

We raced through the city, tires squealing, pedestrians flying, just in time to board the SOEA.  A large wedding party was boarding so we had to wait.  Did I mention it was 4000 degrees outside?  We finally made our way to the Lido deck, and prepared for our journey.  The captain let loose of his horn without warning and we were off.  The cool lake breeze whisked away the heat of the sun and we toasted each other, the Believe it Tour pirates.

Mike was fortunate enough to get an on camera interview of one of the ship's crew members, and he told tales of his sighting of the creature.  Mike plans on including him in the activities next year for Champ Camp II, to be continued indeedy.

Unfortunately, we did not see the creature, but we did have about a dozen teenagers "moon" us as we passed by the Acapulco-like diving cliffs off the port side.  The ship then headed back to dock and we then headed downtown for some dinner.

As luck would have it, the rain returned and put a halt to the radio show and the night canoe trip we had planned to plant Bill's underwater "eye-gotcha" system in the lake.  We stayed up for a bit, huddled under the canopy tent, then retired one by one, drained from the activity filled day.

I awoke the next morning and cleaned up the camp while others slept; I am antsy like that.  By 8 am the sun was burning off the morning dew and I could just tell it was going to be a scorcher.

Bill had canoed out and set his camera in the water, and I look forward to see what he captured on film!

The others arose and were heading out to the overlook to participate in Diana's yoga class and I said my goodbyes to them all.  I had a long drive ahead of me and had to return to work on Monday morning.

I encourage all of you to attend next year's camp.  There was talk of chartering a boat for Bill's underwater camera system and for our own Champ hunt.

Congratulations to Mike and Diana for the production of the event.  It was well thought out and highly informative and entertaining.  I can only imagine that Champ Camp II will be even more fun and I expect there will be more participants!

1 comment:

  1. Good report Sharon. Sounds like a good time!

    Does Bill Dranginis have his EyeGotcha Cams for sale yet?