Monday, August 13, 2012

The Nature of 100

Troop 42135 and leader, Julie Concannon hudle around a
giant redwood in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
This year, the Girl Scouts of the USA have reached their 100th anniversary! In support of this exciting event, I got to join along on a California/Oregon Coast camping trip with Troop 42135 of the Girls Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. As one of our Connecting People with Nature projects, the girls partnered with U.S. Fish & Wildlife to turn their 100-year celebration into a nature adventure! Through the theme of “The Nature of 100,” we spent a week along the coast searching for the number 100 in nature. This seemed difficult at first, but when we put our heads together, we were amazed at how easy it was to connect a little bit of math with Mother Earth!

On Boy Scout Tree Trail amongst the gigantic redwoods.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
100 Foot Trees
Our trip began in Crescent City, California just outside of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We spent two nights on a local camp ground where we set up tents, cooked, cleaned and enjoyed nighttime campfires. The girls took turns with chores and cooking and surprised me when they jumped at the chance to chop firewood (with an axe that was almost as big as they were). Our first venture from the campground took us to the Redwood Forest where we braved a 6 mile trail loop ironically titled Boy Scout Tree Trail. You can probably guess that we unofficially changed the trail’s name to “Girl Scout Tree Trail” for the day. Along the trail we counted out 100 centipedes (A double whammy for our theme! Do you know why?) and photographed the 100th. We paused to look at ferns in search of 100 leaves, and I can also guarantee we saw over 100 Redwoods breaking 100 feet in height!

100 Creatures on the Shore
Elise finds a hermet crab while tide pooling.
"Somebody's home!" she says as a tiny crab
peeks his head out of his shell.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Day three took us out of the forest and down to the ocean to tide pool nearby Battery Point Lighthouse. We stumbled upon hundreds of crabs, starfish and patches of seaweed. This day we also celebrated the 13th birthday of one of the troop, Mackenzie. After a stop for ice cream cake, our troop leader Julie enticed us with the promise of a secret spot to watch hundreds of pinnipeds. We all agreed that this seemed like a good place for birthday cake! This secret spot, for those of you who have spent more than enough time as tourists at the Sea Lion Caves was a small overlook, part of the USFWS Oregon Coast National Wildlife Complex. After taking turns naming different types of pinnipeds we headed up the coast to Bandon, Oregon where we set up shop at our new campground, cooked lasagna in a Dutch oven and crowded into a cozy cabin.

This crab is showing off his "face of nature" for the paparazzi.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

100 Seashells
Our last day began with a delicious pancake breakfast, picnic style, courtesy of KOA. After we filled our bellies, we headed up to the amazingly beautiful shores of Coquille Point, another USFWS Coastal Refuge. Here, we spent some more time tide pooling before an exciting beach quest for 100 seashells. During the quest we also spotted hundreds of sea anemones, bright purple and green in color, sized as small as a quarter, to wide-open and as large as a softball!

Anna & Reilly found interest in some of the washed up
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Our long journey north along the historic Highway 101 took a pit stop at The Washed Ashore Project. This creative and inspiring team collects, and encourages members of the public to collect, washed up beach debris to shape into amazing pieces of art. Flip-flops, bottle caps, water bottles and much more are here turned into giant jelly fish, toy snakes and a giant eagle (which currently works as an inviting landmark to the art studio along 101). They even had some pieces of debris which were determined to have washed up from last year's Japanese tsunami. One of the troop, Jeanne, who is a part of the Mandarin Immersion program at her school helped some of the staff to translate Chinese and Japanese characters seen on pieces of debris. Our last day brought us to a close in Florence, Oregon where we rode horseback through vast sand dunes just along the ocean shore. Does anyone know what endangered species calls this area home?

Jeanne finds a rock covered in some shells.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

100 Memories
While exhaustion (from having far too much fun) set in on us quite rapidly by the time we closed in on Portland, we were all happy to share stories and laughs about our favorite parts of the trip. We recounted all of the different “100s” we found throughout our journey as we realized how easy it was to relate the Girl Scout’s anniversary to nature. We know we found a large handful of connection, but are there any others you can think of?


Happy 100th Birthday Girl Scouts from USFWS!
For even more photos of our trip, come visit our CPWN Facebook page, and please give us a “like!”

Visit the Girl Scouts OSW Page
The girls enjoying some free time on our long road trip.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

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