Gentlemanly Tips From The Gentlemen of Falling Creek:Part 2

It is time again for all men of the Creek out there to go and take their dinner coats out of their wardrobes and pull-up a chair to a 4 course meal of awesomeness. The gentlemen of Falling Creek have some more advice for you.

We don’t want it to seem like we are lecturing you about the importance of following these rules in public engagements in any way, we just want to pass over some suggestions to you; gent-to-gent. We notice some of you do this anyway, but we figure, like any downtown gala raising money for the arts, the more the merrier.

Cell Phones: A Problem for a New Era

15 years ago, cell phones weren’t a problem with encumbering a man and his need to be gently. People remembered directions, called from restaurants, and played video games on their own console, but this device for the modern day gentlemen is most likely here-to-stay (or be replaced by a pair of glasses which can do the same thing without the annoyance of having to look down). Having accepted as much, it’s high time we all accept a general list of rules to go with them that may have gone unsaid up until this point.

At Falling Creek we confiscate your cellphones to enjoy the environment surrounding you. You get a unique opportunity to get away from machines and games and anything with a screen in general. But in the real world, chances are, you take these things with you to do research in science class. So, it’s important to remember that not everyone will appreciate seeing you using your phone when they’re watching you drive.

This may be a piece of friendly advice for the older people who read this blog, with a license, and a sporty

Falling Creek Camp Playing Guitar
Lincoln or Ford. But texting while you are driving makes it 23 times more likely you will crash. It also kills 11 teens a day. Plus, as a rule, makes everyone else in the car with you a little less easy. Gentlemen always leave their phones out-of-sight, in their pocket, or hidden in his center console, when they are driving.

If he is driving to the Opera, he knows to use his phone in the lobby or parking lot, but never in the theater area. This can apply to movie theaters too— or even church. This can be a distraction to the performers, if they are live, and the people around you.

You could also go ahead and extend this to the people who have to stand next to you in the grocery line, on an airplane, in a classroom, or going up an elevator— really any situation where someone is given the pleasure of being in your company whether they can help it or not.

Now it may sound like there is nowhere for you to use your cell phone (or in some cases, tablets) except while you’re alone in your bedroom— which makes you wonder why you didn’t go out and buy a PC from the beginning to alleviate you of all the trouble. But there are dozens of situations where you can go and use your phone in a public setting.
For instance, if you are at a high school football game, a soccer match, or any other loud outdoor place where everyone is screaming, or if you are alone in any of the places mentioned above.

Of course it goes without saying, you needn’t mind yourself if you are a doctor on call, or in a business meeting hoping to use it for a phone conference, or any situation of emergency. Though most times it is common sense, I assure you, the people enjoying the time of your company won’t be able to thank you enough for getting your full attention, rather having to talk to you while you’re making a bid on EBay.

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4 Basic Knots That Everyone Should Know (On a Campout)

Most likely the hikers, and other adventure people of Falling Creek Camp, all know these knots. They use them in any of their overnights, setting up tents, or securing bear bags. They are essential to camp-outs.

So, to make it easier for you, I have organized a top 4 list of knots you should know if you want to go on a camp-out of your own.

Falling Creek Knots

4. The Square Knot

The square knot is simple and perfect for tying together two lengths of rope. If you can remember the phrase: over-under, under-over, you will forever know how to tie the square knot.

Falling Creek Knots

It is two overhand knots, tied over each other… in opposite directions.
Easy to explain. Easy to mess-up.

If it doesn’t look like the picture, then you have tied the dreaded granny knot (which could take hours of picking at with your fingernails to untie if it’s been tugged on). You need only undo your second overhand knot and tie it the opposite way.

Falling Creek Knots

3. The Sheet Bend

Let’s say you want to tie a p-cord to a shoestring because those are the only two strings you got on you (common problem). Will the square knot work? You have two cords that are different sizes, shapes, and textures.

The sheet bend is exactly the knot you need in this situation. It ties similar to a square knot, but with a twist.

Falling Creek Knots
  1. Create a loop.
  2. Feed the p-cord under and through the loop
  3. wrap it around the base
  4. and instead of completing the loop through the shoe string, pull it under the p-cord, to make an ‘x’ shape

It should look similar to the square when you’re done, but 50% more awesome.

Falling Creek Knots

2. The Bowline

Just about anybody can tie a slipknot, but it will almost always frustrate you when you try to use it for any practical purpose. You can’t control how tightly it constricts and it will always constrict as tight as it can.

If you want a loop that won’t constrict at all, then you will want to use the bowline, my friend.

Falling Creek Knots
  1. It’s as simple as twisting your rope to make a hoop
  2. Sometimes you need to leave more excess rope for a larger loop
  3. Feed the end of the rope through the hoop
  4. Then wrap that end around the base of the rope above the hoop
  5. and back down the hoop

If you imagine the tip of the rope as a rabbit, popping out of its “rabbit hole” (the hoop), running around the tree (the base of the rope), and jumping back in it’s hole (the hoop again), you will never forget this knot.

It’s perfect for hanging random objects on hooks, or tying your yacht to the docks.

1. The Tautline Hitch
Falling Creek Knots

To make a Falling Creek tent you will need to know this knot.

It keeps a rope wrapped tight around a tree or a stake. It also allows you to adjust the rope tighter and tighter (as the title would suggest).

It slides only one way (whatever direction makes it taut), unlike that fiendish-slip knot which will go anywhere with the slightest provocation.

Falling Creek Knots
  1. Like the timber hitch, you’re going to wrap the rope around your base
  2. Tuck it back under the rope
  3. Make a loop
  4. Form another loop for good measure
  5. Then going under the rope, make a loop on the opposite end

Cinch this down as tight as you can before pulling on the cord to tie your tarp or stake…

Hopefully these knots will help you like they have helped me.

Check out the follow up post of Four More Basic Knots to Know

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Legend at Sheep's Rock

Falling Creek is unique for having one of the largest collections of endangered species living on grounds in the country. We have the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest known species alive; the timber rattlesnake, a vanishing reptile that has a household name; and the pitcher plant (which you can find near the waterline to the right of Morning Watch).

But none have proved more elusive than the legend of…

The Green Salamander

Green Salamander
Photo compliments of TN Herp of the Day

I say ‘legend,’ because technically we haven’t had an official confirm their existence in our particular area yet; this is not to say we have not had an official come to Falling Creek Camp, though. In the early 2000’s, we had a representative from the U. S. Forest Service, Mae Lee A. Hafer, come to investigate the salamander population on our grounds.

The purported area is Sheep’s Rock, behind the Tuscarora campsite. It is a well-wooded trail, which snakes down a sheer drop-off along the side of a mountain (but well worth the journey). The bald rock faces, once a climbing spot for the adventure staff, now just serves as a great source of natural beauty. Sheep’s Rock doesn’t get its name from the sheep living on its peaks, however. Within the walls and cracks of these stony formations you can find on any given summer day cave crickets and salamanders of all kinds. You need only to shine a flashlight down the deep crags and watch legs scatter and antennas wiggle.

What you will be hard pressed to find is, you guessed it, Green Salamanders. That’s not to say that they don’t live in the area. Cracks in the cave walls like the one in Sheep’s rock are a perfect habitat for them. They enjoy the protection and the cool, moist climate the stone walls provide. They also seal their eggs to the solid rock walls.

But they just may not be there while you are at camp. During the fall and spring, the salamanders gather in pockets and holes in the rock. Those are the seasons when they can hang out on the ledges catching bugs while remaining not too hot and not too cold. These are called cluster times. But during the summer time when most of us are at camp, they are actually spread into the surrounding wild, hunting in the overgrowth and in general being scattered.

It may not seem like a big deal to protect these guys and their habitat if they do actually exist on camp property, but like everything in the food web, they serve a more profound purpose than we would only notice if they went missing.

Falling Creek Green Salamander
Photo Compliments of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources

Believe it or not, salamanders actually cut down on global warming. There’s a pretty complicated explanation laid out for this in a New York Times article, but in laymen’s terms, salamanders eat shredder bugs (insects that eat part of a leaf and leave it to hang on a tree). They can ruin the leaves of an entire tree. The shredder bug contributes to CO2 emissions that are higher than if the leaf fell naturally in autumn, where the emissions can be insulated by everything else on the ground. So, while cow flatulence is ruining our atmosphere, Green Salamanders are saving it. Sadly, they are suffering population drops due to drought, cold, disease, and destruction of habitat.

Though the Forest Service was never able to confirm the population on our camp grounds, they have been spotted by past nature staffers and adventure seekers alike. So, if you find yourself down the trails behind camp at the beginning or end of the summer, you could be one of the elite, who can say, they saw the legend living at Sheep’s Rock.

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Sounds of the Creek

As people who have come to camp for a while know, there are many sounds people associate with their time here. For anyone feeling nostalgic now that camp has ended, we are having a series that brings you a different variety of noises each month that may transport you back to that special place up on the mountain. Perhaps these noises will inspire a story about your time here at camp. If they do, feel free to tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

They can be pedestrian noises that you could hear anywhere, or they could be unique, like…


Falling Creek Bullfrog

Though you can catch a bullfrog on any given day at FC, you can only hear their brazen grunting at night, maybe while you sit and listen to a heartfelt wrap-up at the end of a campfire. Some may be jarred by the noise at first, but after living around it for 4 weeks, you wonder how you ever slept without it.

Though it’s common to hear them elsewhere, namely all 48 states of mainland US, here at the Creek they come at you up-close and personal as you sit beside the Lower Lake. They thrive around the camplands by the hundreds, ranging from action figure size to puppy-dog size.

Some lesser distinct frogs you may notice as the backdrop to these swampland singers are…

the Green Frog,
FCC Green Frog

the Cope’s Grey Treefrog,
FCC Treefrog

and the Northern Cricket Frog,
FCC Northern Cricket Frog

Working as a chorus to either lull you to sleep or serve as a reminder that you are laying on a thin mattress in the middle of the woods, these amphibians will play accompaniment to any snoring or late night talkers.

Like I mentioned earlier, if any of these sounds spur on a memory harkening back to your days at the Creek, whether that be this last summer or from the summer of ‘83, feel free to leave a comment about it in the comment section below.

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Gentlemanly Tips from Gentlemen of Falling Creek

“Over the course of my life, I’ve been to a lot of parties. What I’ve learned is that it’s not enough simply to get invited. What’s really important is knowing how to behave yourself, so you get invited back.”

-John Bridges, celebrated etiquette author

Campers and counselors gathered on a cabin porch.

Being a gentleman is kind of like an album of Chopin, it never goes out of style when you want to impress someone. We say at Falling Creek on more than one occasion that "we are to conduct ourselves like ‘gentleman’,” usually in the case of an inter-camp dance. But the essence of gentlemanliness can fit into any situation away from The Creek. We are always happy to read the letters we receive from the parents, on the etiquette and manners that our campers have displayed since they’ve returned home. And we only have you, gents, to thank.

We have decided as an extension to have a monthly series about tips on what it means to be a gentleman. This advice is applicable to any future house party, dinner soiree, or business meeting. So pull up your leather-upholstered arm chair, turn up the gas in your model fireplace, and dust off that hefty tome you keep beside you for ‘light reading.’ It’s time for a gentlemanly tip from the gentlemen at Falling Creek.

Tip 1: Standing and Sitting: An Art in-and-of-Itself

It may sound old fashioned, and some may even respond like you’re acting silly, but always stand when a women enters the room. It is a sign of respect and tells them you are honored to be in their presence. If you are concerned about gender equality, go ahead and stand when anybody enters the room.

Also stay standing at a dinner table or restaurant if she— or any of the other females present— have yet to sit down, especially if that person is your mother. Chances are, she made or paid for the meal you’re about to eat, and what better way to honor her than waiting so that you can enjoy the meal together.

On the same token, wait to start eating after everyone has been served.

When you sit down, the first thing you need to do is unfold your napkin and place it over your lap (or tuck it into your shirt if you’re eating ribs). This shows you care enough about your appearance that you know you would indeed look silly if you splattered coleslaw on your new pair of slacks.

If you feel the need to get up and stretch your legs, take a phone call, or use the gentlemen’s room, remember to excuse yourself. Just imagine how you would feel if someone who you thought you were mutually enjoying the company of got up and left without saying a word. It can leave you wondering if you are as stimulating a conversationalist you thought you were.

Upon returning, apologize for the interruption and go back to your conversation about local politics (or whatever it is you were talking about).

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