Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Antietam Junior Ranger

No, I'm not talking about me. This refers to one of the coolest programs offered by the National Park Service - the Junior Ranger Program for kids 6 through 12 years of age.

Kids get an age appropriate activity booklet which they complete as they explore the battlefield. Not only are they answering specific questions about features of the battle but they're drawing pictures of fences and monuments, solving simple mathematical calculations, interviewing rangers, and seeking out information from a kid's point of view.

Its more than just a scavenger hunt, its a wonderful way to engage children in the story of the battlefield and their part in its preservation. This simple (and popular) program is often the portal to lifetime learning.

Its a highpoint of every Ranger's day to have kids come back to the counter to have their workbooks inspected and receive their certificates and badges.

Ranger John awards a certificate and badge.

Each park has a unique badge so the opportunity for starting a really cool collection is often a motivator for the kids.

When they get their badges the new junior rangers are pretty proud of themselves, and are always tolerant good sports when one of the rangers, after congratulating them, says something like "O.K. new ranger, you'll be reporting here at 8:30 tomorrow morning to start weeding the front flower bed...and don't forget to bring doughnuts for all the other rangers!"

A proud new Junior Ranger.

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