Junior Rangers: A new generation of national park protectors

9:12 a.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Junior Rangers: A new generation of national park protectors"

The national park rangers' ranks are growing. The newest rangers may be smaller, but they're no less enthusiastic or passionate about the parks. They're the Junior Rangers of the National Park Service.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/blog/2010/08/30/junior-rangers.html

11:48 a.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
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While the Junior Ranger program has been around for many years (it was around when I was a kid, so since the 1940s at least), it has gotten a lot more sophisticated. And environmentally more conscious. When my family took us on the traditional Great Western National Parks Tour, I remember (well, actually have photos taken by my parents) watching the feeding bears in the Yellowstone garbage dump (one of the photos shows my sister and me standing next to a ranger with our ranger badges looking at the bears in the garbage pile). Thankfully, that sort of amusement has changed.

This is a really great program for getting kids interested in the outdoors and doing a bit of education (and for the parents, too).

For many years, the Forest Service had a similar program in which you got a Squirrel Club card for hiking to a fire lookout tower and climbing up the staircase to see the giant map and sighting device that was used to get the azimuth to any smoke plumes. There were several thousands of these lookouts, so triangulation could be used to pinpoint the fire location. Fire lookout towers are pretty much a thing of the past, though a few hundred still exist. You could volunteer to spend a couple months at one with your family, thus giving the rangers a bit of time off. My parents considered volunteering, but decided against it (my sister and I were enthused, but my mother was rather less interested). I wonder if the Squirrel Club still exists at the few manned lookouts that still exist.

This photo is of the tower on Tahquitz Peak in Southern California. I collected about a dozen Squirrel Club cards from this peak during the summer I worked at Camp Emerson, a Boy Scout camp in Idylwild, CA, at the base of Tahquitz. About twice each week, I would lead groups of the scouts on a hike up the Devil's Slide trail on one side, then back down the South Ridge trail on the opposite side. Tahquitz Rock, the famous climbing area which saw the development of many of the modern rock climbing techniques and many of the rock climbers who became famous for climbs in Yosemite Valley, is on the side of this peak.

10:41 p.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
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We visited the Smokies 2 summers ago and that was the first time I paid attention to the Jr. Ranger program. My son and daughter both enjoyed the program , but my daughter (8yrs old at the time) really felt important after being awarded her plastic badge. She seemed to feel a stewardship role had been given to her. She spent the rest of the trip cleaning empty campsites of trash and thanking other campers for having their dogs on leashes. It made a great impression on her.

8:41 p.m. on September 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Bill S my friend (a local indian) climbed dry falls (Palm Springs) bare handed when it was wet. I was going up on the right side which was still pretty dangerous without any climbing gear. It was one of the craziness things I ever saw. Until he picked up a two and a half foot timber rattler with his bare hands at the top of dry falls about forty five minuted later.

We were all young and stupid at one time. I remember when I see dry falls wet.

I generally don't sign on to programs like this one. I think the idea of burden kids with adult problems is going to take the fun out of their visit. I tell my kids to never leave trash behind and to take some other careless peoples trash out with us.

4:07 p.m. on September 23, 2010 (EDT)
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What a wonderful program and a creative way to get kids outside with fun projects that help them learn! At 9 months our son has been to Denali, Glacier, North Cascades and Olympic Natl Parks (prob missing one or two) and he is most at peace and engaged- already!- when he is outdoors.

Blogged about this- I love it. And can't wait till our 9 month old is old enough to give it a try!


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