Now that I have kids school age, I’ve been looking for new ways to get them involved with the National Parks. A great way to do that is to have them join the Junior Park Ranger (JPR) program. There is a method to getting this badge and in this post I’ll describe some of the tips on how your kids can get the most out of the experience.
It’s Not Just a Cool Badge for Kids
But first, what exactly is the junior ranger program? Simply put, its a program created for children that help park rangers protect plants, rocks, animals and historic sites. Don’t wait what you may think is the best time to visit a park with your kids. Many of my friends say they will wait until the kids are older to visit but before they know it they will be grown.
If nature is part of their life early on, you’ll really enjoy the memories together and have something to share as they become adults. These helpers pick up trash and put it in the designated waste bins and explore the parks responsibly (stepping on rocks and trails so to not crush plants and flowers).
Best Age to Get Involved
What I like most about the JPR program is that the requirements are adequately suited for the ages of the children. Once you arrive to the visitor center, ask for the Junior Ranger booklet. Inside, there are questions about the national park you are visiting.
Each age bracket from 5 to 12 years old has to complete a certain amount of questions. Of course, the younger the children, the less questions they have to complete before turning in the pamphlet.
There really isn’t an ideal age to participate, but I believe that age bracket highlighted above is best suited to have the inquisitive nature needed to really dive into the learning.
Junior Ranger Oath or Pledge
Then the kids will raise their right hand and repeat the pledge or oath:
“I am proud to be a Junior Ranger! I promise to appreciate, respect and protect all national parks. I also promise to continue learning about and appreciating cultural, historic, and natural places wherever I go”.
Key focus of the program is teach young children the importance of exploring, learning about and protecting the National Parks.
Preparation Before you Visit The Parks or Just Want to Learn More
There are links to the booklets of each park here. You can also find the song for junior rangers and much more useful material.