Girl Scouts learn about “camping with carnivores”

by Faye Peebles
Education Coordinator, Wolf Haven International

As we set up our table, very much as if we are at a booth event or our own docent table back at Wolf Haven, people start coming down the gravel path from the parking lot. We are in one corner of the large opening. In the center is a round fire pit with benches four deep on all sides.  In the corner opposite are two tables end to end with the makings of Campfire Cones on them.

You may be asking what is a Campfire Cone?  It is a common Girl Scout campfire treat.  How do I know this (aside from being a Girl Scout myself)?  Chris, Pam, and I are at Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s (GSWW) center in Dupont, Washington.  We are  guest speakers at the second Fireside Friday of this summer. GSWW-Dupont began Fireside Fridays as a way to bring environment-related learning to Girl Scout families in a fun way and get some use out of their fire pit. The purpose of Wolf Haven’s presence is to talk about being safe while recreating in carnivore country and briefly talk about what to do in the event of an encounter with wildlife.

As families, GSWW volunteers and staff come in, they greet those they know and then the kids get excited.                They see our table full of skulls, the life-size coyote and gray wolf standees, and our Camping with Carnivores sign.

Quickly the table is surrounded by children of  varying ages, eager to find out what we have, share with us what they know, and see how they physically “size up” to wolves.

Before we know it, the group’s attention is being called for and the campfire is starting.  After a welcome from the lead volunteer and a couple of campfire songs, (yes, Chris, Pam, and I participated to the best of our ability), we get started.

Pam shows Scouts one skull while Faye holds another.

Pam shows Scouts one skull while Faye holds another.

Moving among our guests, we ask the group to be skull detectives with us.  An animal’s skull can tell us what types of food it eats, which sense is most important for survival, and roughly its size. Paw prints, along with the skull information, help the group identify the animals, all of which are native to Washington.

With a general understanding of the carnivores in our state, we take the group through a lesson in responsible hiking/camping/recreating and then demonstrate the good vs. bad ways to react if a person comes upon wildlife.

Finally, we are able to enjoy the Campfire Cones as more questions are asked and answered (incidentally, a campfire cone is a waffle cone filled with marshmallows, chocolate, sprinkles, peanuts, etc., wrapped in foil and heated over a fire for a short time. Everything melts together and you enjoy like an ice cream cone.) Overall, a great time is had by all, including these three Wolf Haven staff.

Faye Peebles with Girl Scout's Woman of Distinction award.

Faye Peebles – Woman of Distinction

Editor’s Note:  Faye is too modest to mention this in her blog post, but she was recently selected as a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction. She received the award from two ambassador Girl Scouts at a May 4 ceremony in Tacoma, WA.