A Tale of Two Troops

On Friday, Sept 13, 2013 BSA Troop #425 from Middleburg, FL set up camp at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park’s (SFFCCSP) Cable Crossing Primitive Camping Area. On that same day, BSA Troop #321 from Jacksonville, FL set up camp at SFFCCSP’s Carter Primitive Camping area. These two troops did not know each other but had contacted SFFCCSP wanting to do a service project during the same weekend. PSS Stephanie McClain contacted the leaders to see if they would work together on the service project and found out both troops were also working on their Environmental Science Merit Badge so it was decided they would work on both together. 
The next morning the two troops officially met for the first time after finding their way to a circled spot on the trail map! It was decided that in order to earn their badges the two troops along with PSS Stephanie McClain would hike along River Road Trail and plot off two separate spaces that were 4 square yards in area in two different natural communities. After it was staked off they would list everything that was alive within the 4 square yards and discuss the characteristics of the landscape. As part of their service project they would clear the trail of debris and pick up trash. Since they needed to go off trail to do the plotting it was a great opportunity to clean up trash in less visible areas that may otherwise go unnoticed. At first the two troops stayed pretty separate from each other just sticking to their own groups/friends. 
The first natural area was a basin swamp; here the troops noticed the wet, dark soil, the depression in the landscape, cypress trees, cypress knees, tupelo and red maple trees and green lichen. They noticed there were not a lot of herbaceous plants in this area and it was shadier, muddier and cooler. The scouts did their own measuring, staking and flagging but had the PSS to help with identification and explanation of the natural community they were in. After working together, the troops left the basin swamp a little more comfortable with each other talking and walking together instead of separately. 
The next natural area visited was mesic pine flatwoods where the sandy, drier soil was brought to their attention and that the word mesic means a good balance of moisture. They learned why the soil looked a lot like beach sand and why they may be able to find sea shells this far from the beach, they noticed the environment was sunnier and warmer and that the vegetation consisted of long leaf pines, scattered oaks, saw palmetto, blazing star, golden rod and wire grass. They were able to see the difference in an area that had been recently burned compared to one across the way that was due for a burn. They learned about prescribed fire and about species diversity as far as plants and animals are concerned and that some plants require an area that is wet and some require drier areas. 
By the time the two troops were done with their projects they were freely talking and hanging out with each other and after exchanging information so they could share pictures ended up spending the rest of the day hiking the Florida Trail together! So two separate troops became one that day on the trails of 
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park!