Are you planning to visit any National Parks this summer with your kids? Did you know that most of the parks have a Jr. Ranger Program? This program is set up to help families learn about the park and see things they may otherwise miss, getting kids ages 5-12 excited about the outdoors!
Visit the visitor’s center at your park and tell them you want to do the Jr. Ranger Program. They’ll give you a little activity guide to complete. (I read online that sometimes they’ll charge a small fee, but ours have always been free.) While you’re out enjoying the park, you complete the tasks, such as finding certain plants. When its completed, you return it to the visitor’s center and each child gets a completed certificate and a patch or badge that looks just like the kind the rangers wear in the park! Each national park has their own unique one so its fun to see how many you can collect and how different they are. If you don’t return to the visitor’s center before leaving the park, you can mail it back. In just a few short weeks, your children will receive their certificate and badge in the mail!
We went to Mt. Rainier National Park last summer while visiting family in Washington. We decided to participate in this program with our kids; they were so excited!! The guide was broken into age-groups so my older child had more advanced tasks to complete, like a word search, while my younger child’s tasks were easier, like a coloring page. I loved the learning that took place! We chose the mail-in route, and it worked! My kids got their activity guides back, as well as a completed certificate and a badge unique to Mt. Rainier National Park. We’ll definitely be doing this again this summer as we travel and hike!
Want to find one near you? Go here for a complete list of participating parks in the nation.