Visiting National Parks and Monuments across America is an amazing thing to do, but kids aren’t always as excited as we would like, but the National Parks Junior Rangers Program makes it so fun for everyone.
What is the Junior Ranger Program?
So what’s the Junior Ranger program, well it’s a lot of things, and with a motto of “Explore, Learn and Protect” that’s just what it teaches. Throughout America there are different activity booklets that help Junior Rangers to make visiting the site even more fun.
How to Earn a Junior Ranger Badge
The first step is to head to the visitor center/gift shop/information booth to find a Park Ranger. Once there ask the Park Ranger if they have any Junior Ranger booklets. The booklets are geared for ages 5-13, but anyone can do it. I like that there are different levels for the booklets. The work you have to complete depends on your age, and it’s different for each place. The booklet can take up to 2 hours to complete in most sites so please schedule that time accordingly. TIP: Many park sites allow you to complete the booklet later if you don’t have the time to complete it while in the park. Once completed send in the booklet to receive the badge. Ask a Park Ranger before you leave to see if they will mail the badges.
Once you’re completed the work you find a Park Ranger and then take the oath to help protect American and it’s Parks. Then the kids are presented with badge specific to the booklet they’ve completed.
Do All National Park Sites Have Junior Ranger Programs?
Many national park sites have a Junior Ranger program but not all. However the list of sites that have Junior Ranger Programs is expanding. Check out the complete list of Junior Ranger programs or look for programs in a certain region.
Complete List of Junior Ranger Programs
Junior Ranger Programs in the Northeast
Junior Ranger Programs in the Mid-Atlantic
Junior Ranger Programs in the Southeast
Junior Ranger Programs in the Midwest
Junior Ranger Programs in the Southwest
Junior Ranger Programs in the Rocky Mountains
Junior Ranger Programs in the West & Pacific
Junior Ranger Programs in the Pacific Northwest & Alaska
Junior Ranger Program Online
Sometimes you can’t make it to a specific National Park site. There are some badges that can be earned online by downloading the packet or contacting the site by email/phone/mail. Once you complete the packet you can mail the packet to an address and the site will mail you back a badge and certificate. If this is available at the site it will be indicated with “**Online Available**”.
Junior Ranger Specialty Badges
Not all Junior Ranger programs are tied to a specific national park site. There are other fun Junior Ranger Specialty Badges you can earn at home or in specific National Park sites like Junior Archeologist Badge, Junior Cave Scientist Badge, and Junior Ranger Let’s Go Fishing! Badge. Check out our full list of Junior Ranger Specialty Badges
There are also specialty badges tied to events happening. In summer of 2017 they had a special booklet and badge for the Solar Eclipse and I know the Cherry Blossoms in DC also has one.
What’s so great about the Junior Ranger program is they really are getting the kids and adults excited about seeing these treasures. I know we’re planning a big trip when the kids are in 4th grade, because of the Kid in Every Park program means they can see it all for FREE!
As we continue to travel and grow our badge collection I’m looking forward to crossing off the National Parks and Monuments in our Passport book too.
Have you started to collect Junior Ranger badges?