by Amy Flinn (aided by Michael Finn and Zelda the wonder dog)
Some of you may have seen it – an emailed request for a hike with some Cub Scouts. Seven to 10 Cubs and their parents wanted to hike at Berry Springs Park and Preserve on Saturday. The den is working on a NOVA Award. They needed to take a hike and interview someone who works in conservation. Some discussion of invasive species was also requested.
It sounded pretty easy. And then the weather decided not to cooperate.
I may not know what the Cub Scout motto is, but the Girl Scout* motto is “Be prepared.” The 1947 handbook explained the motto thus: “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.” (Emphasis mine)
To “be prepared” we made a recognizance trip to Berry Springs Friday to see what was shaking in the park. It definitely Spring in the park. We found and photographed plants, birds, reptiles, insects, arachnids, mammals, and invasive species. Mike saw his first Summer Tanager. Zelda discovered a Western Rat Snake. The Northern Mockingbirds and Eastern Bluebirds showed off for photos.
Then we went home to prepare for a “real” hike and, as the weather forecast continued to deteriorate, a “virtual” hike.** Then opted for a room provided by the Georgetown Public Library. The Cub Scouts and parents*** arrived and we hiked the trails of Berry Springs via electrons — observing nature, discussing the projects Good Water Master Naturalists carry out in the park and learning to identify invasive species for an hour and a half.
At the end of the hike, the scouts pledged to leave snakes alone (in line with Leave No Trace Principles). They were each awarded one glow-in-the-dark snake to acknowledge their pledge.
Maybe it worked because these were second graders. Maybe it worked because it was a small group. Maybe it worked because we all really wanted it to – the kids were engaged and engaging. The parents were eager and several added iNaturalist to their phone apps.
As past “real” hikes informed this “virtual” hike, this hike will impact our future hikes at Berry Springs and elsewhere. We are ready to go.****
For more on the hike: https://walkinthepark-padimus.blogspot.com/2019/04/with-cub-scouts-at-berry-springs-park.html
*Girl Scout Troop 22, Sinton, Texas was my home for many, many years.
** PowerPoint presentation – 55 slides and some frog/toad audio (next time there will be bird calls too).
***Five Cubs, 6 parents, and one master naturalist participated.
****Zelda prefers real hikes because she isn’t allowed in the library.
Western Rat Snake
This is what a virtual hike looks like (gear on another table)
These are the hands of our future