- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor


Sunflowers at Forks of the River. Photo by S.L.B.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TN Naturalists @ Ijams search for insects, other creepy crawlies

The seventh TN Naturalists @ Ijams class covered insects and other Arthropoda: arachnids (spiders), myriapods (millipedes and centipedes) and some crustaceans (pill bugs, a.k.a. sowbugs, a.k.a. roly polies).

After a short class indoors where we discussed orders, body parts and who eats who, we went outdoors. 

We scratched in the leaves. We turned over rocks. We ran around like kids with butterfly nets.

Great fun!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ijams Butter-FlyAway searches for season's last butterflies

Common Buckeye
Before the dreary weather set in, we lucked out and had a sunny, calm day. Perfect for our Butter-FlyAway last Sunday. After a short lesson indoors accompanied by buttery butter pecan ice cream and cookies, we ventured outdoors for our sine qua non...butterflies. 

On a scouting mission earlier, we found one passing monarch headed to Mexico (Good Luck) and a couple of yellow sulphurs

Great Spangled Fritillary
But the best catches of the day by our group were a common buckeye and a great spangled fritillary. After holding them captive for awhile in spacious tents for all to see, we shouted "Butter Fly Away," and let them go.

Many thanks to all of our butterfly hunters!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Nature Day Campers hiked to Laurel Falls in the Smokies

These are NOT our camp kids. We STAYED respectfully at the bottom of the falls.

The last group of Nature Day Camp kids got to go on a road trip to the Smokies. 

We picnicked in the Sugarlands. (Love that name.) After that we hiked to Laurel Falls on a very hot day. The mountain water was, oh so, refreshing.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Walker on little used trail finds artifacts of bygone era

Kristie McDonald with two of her finds

While walking at Ijams a few weeks ago, Kristie McDonald discovered a piece of old glass sticking from the ground. Curious, she began to dig around the artifact and discovered what is probably an old household dump site.

Kristie is married to Allen McDonald, the great grand nephew of Bill McDonald who lived across from the Ijams entrance for decades. In fact, Bill lived there long before there was a nature center. He was a neighbor to H.P. and Alice Ijams. 

Kristie was walking on a little used trail near the Secret Pond behind the site of the John Hay house, another neighbor of the Ijams family.

A date on the bottom of the green bottle puts the castoff containers at circa 1925, a proper timeframe for when the Ijams and Hay families lived on the property.

John and Jean Hay lived next door to the Ijams family during the 1920s. Originally from Scotland, John often played the bagpipes in full Scottish attire, loved to play chess and worked as a gardener in Alice Ijams' greenhouse. Jean helped Jo Ijams publish the Ijams family newsletter (1922-1926) and worked with Alice at Camp Margaret Townsend for Girl Scouts in the Great Smoky Mountains when the camp first opened in 1925. John also served as a handyman at the camp from time to time.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Cast off bottles circa 1925

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pack 39 completes work on Feathers, Fur and Fern badge

Bear Pack 39

Ijams welcomed Pack 39 from Sequoyah Hills, at Ijams this afternoon working on their Feathers, Fur and Fern badge.

Good job, Bears!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tennessee Jones visits Ijams in search of dem bones

"I'm the brains. You're the brawn." Pause...."Say, whattttt?"

If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.

Ijams was honored to have Indy and his Raiders "girlfriend" Marion Ravenwood visit the camp kids during Tall Tale Week this summer. 

Well...it wasn't exactly Indiana himself, but rather his older brother Tennessee Jones, who has quite a large chip on his shoulder because his kid brother gets all the attention. After all, who was first? Tennessee became a state in 1796, and Indiana in 1816. And, Tennessee Jones taught his younger sibling Indiana everything he knows. (And his strong-minded, sassy girlfriend Mary Eaglewood taught TN Jones everything he knows.)

As she says, "I'm the brains. You're the brawn."

As the tall tale goes, Indiana pursues "new junk"—crystal skulls, golden goblets, chests full of ghosts, all man-made trinkets—while Tennessee Jones searches for the truly old, old Mesozoic things, namely dinosaur fossils.

Word had gotten to TN Jones that a possible paleo-site had been discovered at Ijams by local Rastafarian, Ben-jamin Nanny, and the camp kids went on a dino dig just like true paleontologists.

And you'll never guess what they found. 

Thanks, Jenny! Great job in the role of a sassy girlfriend.

- Stephen Lyn Bales 

Tennessee Jones shows the camp kids a true Mosasaurus fossil while Eaglewood straightens him out on the details.

Ijams staffer Augusta imitates how a T-Rex used its front legs.