Digital Trails at Owasippe

By John Nelson – Courtesy of the Arrowhead District eNewsletter

Last year some of you may have seen the new trail posts at Owasippe or visited These new markers are on parts of the Red, Orange, Blue and White trails at Owasippe as of last summer.

Owasippe Digital TrailsThe posts (one pictured on right) contain an Owasippe logo, the text name of a nearby plant or point of interest, a post number and 4 QR codes in different colors (note the crisp printing, many thanks to Frank Kriegseis).

Each code (when scanned with a smart phone QR reader app) links to slightly different content:

  • The Blue QR code links to Webelos rank requirements and content about the location.
  • The Green QR code links to Boy Scout requirements and content about the location.
  • The Red QR code links to content about the location without any specific advancement or merit badge content.
  • The Black QR code links to a map so you know where that post is (some link to google maps, posts covered by embedded processors link to a static map).

These trails uses technology to support the scouting program and generally, for any given plant, we answer important questions such as:

  • What is the scientific name?
  • What makes it unique?
  • Will it hurt me if I eat it?
  • How does it reproduce?
  • Where am I?

Here are a couple samples of the output:

Owasippe Digital TrailsWe partnered with a botanist from Muskegon Community College and some of the pages include links to content created at MCC (but the basic data is encoded in the primary link and can be handy in the event of a scout working on a merit badge such as forestry discovers they didn’t create their notebook in advance).

While static content worked well for our first year as we look toward the future we’d like to add more varied and interactive content.

As an example, at a trail we built at Camp Butternut Springs (Girl Scout Camp) we had a tree stump where girls were asked to count the rings. Here we can ask interactive questions and tell scouts if they answered correctly thanks to smart phones or tablets.

More plans are in the works to improve and enhance the digital trail system. Stay tuned!