If you want to sneak a little education into your family’s upcoming vacation and travel plans, check out the Junior Ranger program which celebrates the fun of hands-on learning with on-this-spot locations for instant memories for all. And it’s all free.
Sponsored by the National Park Service, the program is active across the country in numerous national parks, monuments, preserves and recreational areas. If you are traveling, be sure to check in advance if a junior ranger program is available. Even if the destination isn’t part of your itinerary, it will be worth your while to stop and explore.
Here’s the list of participating locations in Southern California:
- Cabrillo National Monument
- Channel Island National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Mojave National Preserve
- Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area
Participating is easy. A ranger invites youngsters to raise a hand and take an oath to “Explore, Learn and Protect!” followed by a host of kid-friendly, kid-relatable and kid-centric activities that introduce them to an aspect of that park/monument/preserve/area.
Under the careful and helpful eyes of park rangers, kids will receive badges for completing certain activities that encourage them to further explore their surroundings, the history and natural beauty of where they are.
While the program is aimed at kids 5-13, anyone can participate.
Additionally, junior rangers can continue their mission by participating in activities they can do at home. The National Park Service offers a series of booklets that can help kids reinforce their junior ranger pledge of “Explore, Learn and Protect.” Some booklet topics include: archeology, bat biology, paleontology, the night sky, underwater mysteries, and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
To find out more about the Junior Ranger program, click here: