Employees at Pendleton Woolen Mills have shared some of their meaningful park adventures with us, and we’re sharing some with you over the course of the summer. We heard from Jenny, who heads our logistics department, about her son’s encounter with the Junior Rangers Program.
A few years ago, our family rented a motor home with Yellowstone National Park as our destination. Our children, then six and four, enjoyed seeing bison, elk, and other wildlife, walking around the geysers (on the boardwalks, of course), and riding their bikes through the campgrounds.
Our son took an interest in the Junior Ranger program, which involved completing puzzles, listing wildlife he’d seen, talking to rangers, and more. Once he completed his program, a Ranger swore him in and gave him a badge. The attached photo shows how proud he was after earning his badge. It’s one of our favorite pictures from the trip.
National Park swag and National Park swagger, right there. Doesn’t he look proud? That pride got us interested and excited in the Junior Ranger program.
According to the National Park Service website:
The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national. Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service “family” as Junior Rangers. Interested youth complete a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate.
There are currently over 200 Junior Ranger programs in the National Park system. You can access a complete list here: Junior Ranger Program parks
At the top of that page you’ll find that the Junior Ranger program has a lot of online resources on various topics like archeology,: NPS Junior Archeologist Activity book and Parent’s Guide (PDF) and Junior Archeologist Program Activity Book (PDF); paleontology; exploring the fascinating and fragile underground world of caves ; our night skies(PDF); exploring wilderness(PDF) and more. You can download a special National Park Service Centennial activity book here: Centennial Junior Ranger Activity Book
Wouldn’t your young ones like to earn their badges? And remember–you’re welcome to join the fun with them. What a way to help your child become interested and invested in our National Parks.
all photos courtesy of the National Park Service.