“Explore, Learn and Protect!” This is the moto of the National Park Service’s junior ranger program. Rita and I have been fans of the National Park system for years and were avid visitors and passport stamp collectors. When Alex started visiting parks with us we discovered the junior ranger program and found it to be a great way to get a young child interested in the history or natural splendor of the parks.
When you visit a park go directly to the visitor center and ask the ranger on duty about their junior ranger program. The ranger will give out the booklet and explain the activities needed to recieve the badge. Many parks also have the booklets available on-line so that they can be printed out before your visit. This is a good option because some of the activities involve coloring or drawing which can be done in the hotel room or at home before your visit. Most of the activities though are geared to exploration of the park you are in. You will have to look for various items or answer some questions based on park displays.
Working with your child can be great fun. We find that reading the booklet and helping Alex explore the park makes it all the more rewarding for us as well.
To get started I would suggest going to the junior ranger tag under the kids section of the National Park Service main site. There are several junior ranger badges that your child can earn with on-line programs from home!
Explore the parks with your kids and create memories that will last a lifetime.