One of the joys of traveling with Ella and Oliver — our dear friend Chris’s two kids — in two of Alaska’s national parks was getting to participate with them in their Junior Rangers program activities. The NPS Junior Rangers program is an activity-based program conducted in almost all of our national park units that teaches children all about our parks.
While visiting an NPS park unit, interested youngsters can complete a series of activities having to do with that park, share their answers with a park ranger, and then receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. Puzzles to solve, word searches, plant and animal names and new vocabulary words, coloring, mazes — these and other fun activities in a workbook guide young kids through learning all about the park they’re visiting.
“Explore, Learn, and Protect” — these are the tenants of the oath kids recite with a park ranger who often, adding his or her own sense of humor, will add a line or two about promising to brush their teeth, obey their parents, and/or do their homework. Junior Rangers is a really wonderful program where kids of all ages — including 51-year-olds! — can have fun learning about our national parks and how to protect them. These are, after all, our nation’s treasures and we want them to be around for our children’s children’s children to enjoy.