My Double Life as a Spy Instructor

My Double Life as a Spy Instructor

My favorite part of this internship is doing things that are outside of what I normally do (lake surveying, E. coli testing, and macroinvertebrate sampling). These things include going on copperhead calls, accompanying bird and bat surveyors, and helping with rare plant (Isotria medeoloides) surveying.

My first copperhead call. I got to shut the transport box
A bat caught via mist netting. This bat was pretty calm compared to the others

A bat taking off

The week of June 18th, from Tuesday to Thursday, I was afforded the opportunity to spend each day with the park’s Spy Camp. Spy Camp is a three day long summer camp program for kids 9 to 12 years old. From 1942–1945, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the modern-day Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), used the park’s (then called the Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area) cabin camp areas as secret training areas. Spy Camp engages campers in skills and knowledge that were learned by OSS trainees when they were in the park. Unfortunately, it did rain all week; however, as Ranger Kerri (the overall person who made sure Spy Camp came together) said, “Spies train in any weather.”

It rained all week and often poured but Spy Camp went on

Campers participated in an obstacle course, basic first aid, knot tying, creating a spy persona, archery, land navigation, and using Morse code, which I assisted in.

Part of the obstacle course; I was responsible for resetting this part when campers knocked it down
Archery. I was able to shoot a few rounds

The week culminated in a final skills test in which campers had to use the skills they learned throughout the week to rescue Agent Adam by following clues.

Agent Adam. Campers had to find him, bandage him up, and carry him back to the camp's base (the dining hall)
It was not only the campers who learned skills this week, I did as well. Despite being a Geography major, I had never learned how to use a compass and map, this week I did!
A compass and a map of Cabin Camp 1 (where the camp was held) was used for the land navigation exercise

I attempted to learn some knots along with the campers as I regularly have to knot up rope so it does not slip when I am doing my transect lines for the lake survey. However, I don’t think the knots the campers were learning were particularly applicable for my situation. Oh well.

A sheet of knots that the campers learned and practiced
I am also grateful for all the great park staff and volunteers I got to meet and work with.
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