Junior Rangers - US National Park program for kids

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

There are over 84 million acres of treasured places in The United States of America, They are our national parks and are waiting to be enjoyed. If you're doing any traveling this summer, you may be surprised at just how close you might be to a National Park or historic site. There are over 400 of them! So if you want to see any (which I highly recommend!) and you have children or grandchildren with you, there is a great program for them called The Junior Rangers. 

It's an activity based program where kids complete some easy tasks during a park visit, tell what they learned to a park ranger, be sworn in as a junior ranger, and receive a badge and certificate. They make it super easy. I love these types of things! I remember many road trips when I was young where we explored a historic site or took in a national park while we were traveling in the area. Sometimes they didn't seem as interesting as another but it always made for lasting memories. I think a program like this would've made it even better.

There is also an online program called Web Rangers that my kids do so they can receive badges when we're not traveling to a park. The park service will actually mail you a badge.

Because we live so close to the DC area, we're able to visit fairly often. So last year during the Cherry Blossom festival my kids were sworn in as Junior Rangers after completing three fun craft activities. I don't have the photos with me but will do a photo update when I do. This is what that badge looks like.
And now since we are in Arkansas for work, we are able to visit Hot Springs National Park all the time. So once again, we have some more badges. I wish I had started collecting them earlier since we have been to quite a few historical places and parks in our 22 years as a family. We'll just have to retrace our steps.

If you're like me when you hear the words "National Park," you automatically think of the iconic, maybe more beloved ones of our country, like the top 10 visited in 2014:

Great Smokey Mountains
The Grand Canyon
Rocky Mountain
Grand Teton
They had a staggering 70 million visitors! But there are so many other places that you can take in where you or your children can have the park experience, like the Edgar Allen Poe Natl. Historical site in Philadelphia, Charles Pickney in SC, Ellis Island, Gettysburg, Golden Spike in Utah, The Badlands of SD, Golden Gate Recreation area in CA, Fort Clatsop in Astoria, Fort Vancouver in WA (went both places on field trips and that's where we grew up watching fireworks on the 4th!) There are just too many to list.
So don't worry if you're not in an area with one of the more 'famous' parks. There are just as many interesting and beautiful places to discover and maybe a little more accessible and away from crowds. And to make it easy for you to find one, Here is a list of the participating parks for JRs and also free entrance dates by state! Free is always a plus.

If you find a park near you and have the kids sworn in, let me know!

Have a great day


Yosemite 1994

sharing at The Happy Housie

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