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8 Campgrounds with Exciting Junior Ranger Programs
Keep your kids sharp this summer: reserve a spot at one of these campgrounds that offer popular junior ranger programs where your children can learn about plants, animals, stewardship and much more.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
California 1 of 9
This park is known for a variety of programs, and the junior ranger program stands out among them. Several days of hour long sessions teach the kids how to identify tracks, observe wildlife and hike on trails. If you're traveling, your junior ranger can start the program at Samuel P. Taylor and end it at another California state park. Just plan to dedicate at least one hour a day to the program.
Elm Brook Park Rec Arena
New Hampshire 2 of 9
Kids ages 6 to 12 can participate in this popular junior ranger program, which is offered every summer. The program runs for two weeks and offers a variety of activities that include making animal tracks, identifying wildlife and fishing. There's also a large focus on water safety. At the end, all the children get certificates and patches that say Junior Ranger. Be sure to stick around for the graduation ceremony and barbecue.
Maine 3 of 9
This campground is located in Acadia National Park, where vast wilderness provides a perfect backdrop for a junior ranger program. Print the booklet used throughout to guide kids through the program at home before you leave. Activities include hiking preparation, leave no trace lessons, artifact identification are paired with questions in the booklet. Once a ranger has approved the given answer, your kids can go home with an official junior ranger patch.
New York 4 of 9
The program offered at this campground is called the Junior Naturalist Program, and covers the same important information a standard junior ranger program does. Children ages 5 to 13 are given a journal with activities to do during the program and as a family. The games and activities are designed to encourage kids to explore the outside world around them. Upon completion, all the kids receive an embroidered patch to take home.
Susquehanna State Park
Maryland 5 of 9
Help your child connect with the outdoors in the summer junior ranger program offered at this Maryland state park. Throughout the weekend, children ages 7 to 14 will learn about the history of the park and fundamentals of environmental education and stewardship. If your children are younger, enroll them in Park Pals, which is the program for kids 3 to 7 years of age. At the end every child goes home with an achievement award and patch.
Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
Oregon 6 of 9
Children ages 6 to 12 get a chance to explore the park, identify plants and animals and learn how to keep the park clean in the Oregon Junior Ranger program. After enrolling, each child receives a Junior Ranger Passport, where they get stamps for completing each activity. After completing the first page of activities, kids get to keep their passport and are awarded a special badge.
They can complete the following two pages of activities whenever they visit an Oregon state park. After completing all three pages they get a special certificate signed by J.R. Beaver, the program mascot.
Wasatch Mountain State Park
Utah 7 of 9
With a full-time naturalist at the park, this junior ranger program offers a variety of hands on activities. Previous programs have taught about moon activity with Oreos and owl feeding with pellet dissection. Outdoor skill demos are also offered, such as geocaching, Dutch oven cooking and hiking. In the end, your children go home with great memories and a junior ranger patch.
Pinon Flats Campground
Colorado 8 of 9
Purchase the junior ranger booklet at the visitor center for $.50. Note that these are categorized by age—the younger kids do different activities than older ones—so be sure to grab the right one.
While this is mostly a family-oriented program, with minimal group activities, a large group program is offered on one weekend in June, where 15 activity stations are set up and children can get to participate in hands on programs with rangers and naturalists. Regardless of when you go, children are sworn in as junior rangers and can then choose from a patch or a badge.