A Squirrel Campers view
Erin Siracusa (PhD candidate, Guelph University) is a talented writer. Read her blogs about life this summer as a Squirreller.
Kayla Deasley (University of Guelph) defended her MSc in August 2014. Her thesis entitled “Red squirrels cause balancing selection on the length of the white spruce cone” is available here Deasley_Kayla_MSc_Thesis
Kristin van Katwyk (University of Alberta) defended her MSc in the Spring of 2014. Her thesis entitled “Empirical validation of closed population abundance estimates and spatially explicit density estimates using a censused population of North American red squirrels” is available here Van Katwyk_Kristin_Spring 2014
Congratulations to Kayla and Kristin!
Think of a float in a parade. What comes to mind? Streamers, balloons, bright colours, people in costumes, loud music, confetti…maybe not an F-250 covered in cardboard. But when at Squirrel Camp, one must make do with what one has available for decorations, and this mainly consists of cardboard boxes and Sharpie ink. Our monster of an F-250, dubbed “Sasquatch”, got all dressed up to be included in the Canada Day parade in Haines Junction this past Tuesday. Sasquatch found itself with a lovely large pair of cardboard squirrel ears complete with ear tags, whiskers made of big white pipe cleaners on its headlights, and even an improvised squirrel tail affixed to the trailer hitch (the success of making an accurate tail was questionable, but after inhaling as many Sharpie fumes as we did in the process of its creation, we felt it had to be used).
Our bizarre squirrel/truck hybrid made its way along the two main streets of Haines Junction (this essentially encompasses the entirety of the 4th largest municipality in the Yukon) amidst many other impressive floats, including the truck behind us complete with a swimming pool in the bed! Needless to say, many efforts were made to soak the squirrelers in the back of Sasquatch. I am proud to say that I escaped, but I am not sure that everyone was so fortunate. Other participants in the parade included the Lions Club with a massive, colourful float pulled by a tractor, the Haines Junction fire department, a number of young cyclists and several animal participants. A very well-dressed dog with Canada-themed anklets later won an award for being so sporting.
The parade was followed up by a delicious barbecue thanks to the Lions Club, plenty of fun and games out on the lawn, cotton candy and even the unveiling of a pair of new murals made by the local elementary school. For a town of less than a thousand people, Haines Junction really pulled out all the stops this July 1st! It was an incredibly fun atmosphere, and a couple of us squirrelers even joined in on a nearby informal football game. When I say “informal”, I mean lacking in rules and run by twelve-year-old boys. And so Squirrel Camp did not let go of childhood this Canada Day! We hope you enjoyed your own festivities on July 1st this year. Squirrel Camp will be back again for next year’s parade, with plans to stockpile some cones to use as a more natural, boreal confetti.
– Sarah Nason, U of Alberta
If you have ever been to Squirrel Camp, you know that it attracts a group of hard working, incredibly athletic and borderline nuts (ha!) individuals. No event showcases all of these traits quite as completely as the Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay. This year the Squirrel Camp team was stacked with a whole three regular bikers, and five members who may or may not have seen a bike in the past year. The 8-person team and its two cheerleaders rolled up to the bike race in homemade T-shirts, hanging out of a massive F-250 complete with a sign. Clearly, we were ready to crush and wow the competition with our incredible speed and our amazing cheers.
Our first biker exploded off of the start, putting Squirrel Camp decisively in the middle of the pack. The cheer squad was less confident. At first we were unsure of our cheering style. Would we just scream loudly? Would we say good job and clap? Would we throw our hands into the air and fist pump? All of our indecision was resolved when the man parked in front of us pulled a mysterious wooden box from the back of his truck. From this box he removed a glorious, magical instrument…bagpipes. With these he serenaded the first few bikers to the delights of the cheering crowd and bikers alike. Now the Squirrelers knew how we would cheers…we would dance!
For the next eight legs, as we passed through one time zone, a territory, a province and a state, and the scenery graded from mountains to alpine to Alaskan rainforest our dance moves evolved. Our cheers where no longer reserved for just our team. Along the way we picked a few lucky bikers to gift with our incredibly uplifting cheers. Their confused expressions just made us cheer louder and dance and bounce around more fiercely. As we arrived in Alaska and the last leg, we had reached the height of our cheering potential. Now we were truly creative. As I had the last leg I was lucky enough to have a bikers view of these glorious Squirrelers. As I rode by the team the first time I was greeted with a line of Squirrelers doing pushups…sort of. The second time around was a human pyramid of epic squirrely proportions.
If there had been a team spirit award we would have won hands down. However, awards where only given based on speed. We came in very close, getting 61st out of….65. GO SQUIRRELERS! Not bad for a bunch of crazy bush people!
– Naomi, McGill University