Make New Friends but Keep the Old

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Photo credit: Ted Toth

Bonding around a campfire, sharing songs and stories, was a great way to kick off the fourth annual weekend for Cadette Girl Scouts.  72 girls, representing 15 different troops, participated in the action packed, educational weekend.

Through the course of the weekend, girls completed work to earn three different Cadette badges; Trees and Keys, Finding Common Ground, and Woodworking.

Since winter is approaching, and most leaves had already fallen, identifying trees proved a bit more challenging than in the summer months.  With guidance from the field instructor interns, the girls practiced using dichotomous keys as a tree identification tool.  While the class was designed to familiarize girls with roughly nine tree species, by the time girls ventured into the forest to ID trees, they began to recognize the diversity in tree bark well exceeded nine types.  It was great to see the girls’ increasing awe as they discovered the complexity of the forest ecosystem.

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Photo credit: Ted Toth

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Photo credit: Ted Toth

For woodworking, scouts learned how to safely operate a hammer, screwdriver, cordless drill, and tenon saw.  As using tools was a skill most of the girls had not previously tried, they all had great fun learning and laughing as they worked on their bird house projects.  A fair amount of crafts-woman-ship went into each design, as girls learned to keep the wood pieces square through assembly and how to properly drill holes and drive screws into the wood.  By the end of the session, each scout successfully assembled a high-quality bird house to take home.

The last badge, Finding Common Ground, was the highlight of the weekend for many.  Cadettes were challenged to find a practical solution to the issue of deer overpopulation.  To gain sufficient background knowledge, the scouts first completed the Wildlife Biology class.  Though a series of workbook activities, puzzles, and games, the girls studied population ecology.  Why do populations reach their carrying capacity?  What are limiting factors in an environment?  What happens when a predator, prey relationship becomes unbalanced?

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Photo credit: Ted Toth

After discovering the answers to these questions, the girls gathered in the evening for a mock town hall meeting.  Each troop chose one Cadette to be a part of the town commission board.  Then, Mayor Paul E. Tishen (remember him from our level II curriculum?), oversaw a healthy debate on how to solve the deer population crisis.  Representatives (field-instructor interns) from the fictitious town of Crystal Park voiced opinions about biodiversity, animal rights, car accident hazards, lyme disease, farm crop damage, local business, and more.

Having heard the multiple view points, girls broke out into troops and came up with a proposed solution to the overpopulation issue.  When the meeting reconvened, troops took turns sharing their proposed solutions.  Suggestions ranged from “controlled” mountain lion releases to closing the park temporarily and issuing licenses to trained hunters to shoot deer.

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Photo credit: Josh Angelini

Once all proposed solutions were shared, the final step was to vote.  Commission members voted on a solution behind closed doors, while the audience had an open vote. When both parties reached a decision the Commissioners were asked to return and present their verdict on what solution should be implemented.  After all was said and done, it turned out that the commission and the townspeople ultimately chose different results; but that’s ok, it happens in real life too.

While the whole issue and meeting were set up to represent a fictitious town and fictitious park, by the end of the meeting, having become absorbed in the issue, girls and adults reported that it all seemed very real.  Overall, it was a great learning opportunity for the girls to learn about population dynamics in a hands-on, interactive way.

Though fast and furious, the weekend was a great opportunity to learn, earn badges, meet new people, and explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Wondering how you and your troop can join in the fun?  We are now offering a second weekend for Cadettes January 31st– February 2nd.  There are still spots available.

To register, call Connie in the EEC office 330-657-2796.

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