The Founder of Scouting, Lord Baden-Powell said: “God has given us a world to live in that is full of beauties and wonders… if only we have the sense to look at them in that light.” The Scouts BSA Outdoor Code tells Scouts “To be Conservation Minded.”
Setting a great example of caretaking the gifts of nature and putting the Scouts BSA Outdoor Code into action, Scouts BSA Troop 840 Girls (Troop 840G) conducted their first Conservation Project on October 3, 2020. The Scouts harvested, cleaned, stored, planted, and marked more than 80 Pawpaw and 30 Persimmon seeds.
Troop 840G Scouts, Cristlin F., Sophia W. and Sydney G., led by Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) Paige W. and Patrol Leader (PL) Mckayla W. worked closely with Izaak Walton League’s Alexandria/Stafford Conservation Committee Chair, Guy Cox, to successfully complete this conservation project at the Izaak Walton League property in Stafford County.
This project was important because, although the Pawpaw and Persimmon are fruit trees native to Virginia, they cannot thrive on their own. Pawpaw trees require pollination from an unrelated tree to bear fruit. Persimmon trees generally need a male tree to pollinate a female tree to produce fruit. These factors, combined with the large seeds that are not eaten and spread by animals, hinder fruit bearing Pawpaw and Persimmon groves.
While Scouts BSA activities are always meant to be “Fun with a Purpose”, true success for our Scouts started with prior proper planning and preparation by the SPL and Adult Troop Leaders. Troop 840G Scouts planned and prepared to ensure safety was taken into consideration for all aspects of the project (K.I.S.M.I.F. = Keep it Safe, Make it Fun!) and that all Scouts would be properly trained in the skills and tools needed to succeed.
Fitting the project in with other Scout Skills Campout activities that same weekend made for a tight schedule, but the Troop’s SPL and PL prioritized and adjusted plans to make it work. Scouts worked in teams (Buddy System) to locate good planting areas and properly plant the seeds. Specific knowledge about ensuring optimum conditions (e.g., soil, lighting, dampness, proper seed handling, etc.) were provided by Guy Cox and Troop 840G Adult Leaders provided safety oversight and mentorship. Areas were marked with Purple PVC stakes so Scouts can check on their plantings next year.
While this was Troop 840 Girls first Conservation Project, the Scouts have conducted several community focused Service Projects. These included projects for our Nation’s Veterans in conjunction with Vets on Track, which furnishes/decorates homes with essentials and comfort items for homeless Veterans “Making Houses into Homes” and Black Horse Forge which provides free metal forging classes and forging facilities for Veterans; Black Horse Forge is planning to expand into woodworking too and also has horses, donkeys and chickens for visiting Vets to caretake. Additionally, Troop 840G Scouts have participated in the National Night Out opening ceremony and Scouting for Food.