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Local Treks

Sunday, 06 December 2009

Park Ranger - Junior Division

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"Oh I've seen the Liberty Bell.  A lot of times." We're driving to school; I've just told her that her Grandma is taking her to see the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House in downtown Philadelphia. I don't need to turn around to guess that my daughter, who is nearing five, has perfected the "boRing face". 

"Yeah?  What does it look like?"  Yes, I like to argue with people who spend their time perfecting useless tools like "boRing face."

"It's a bell.  Can we get ice cream?"
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"Nooo.  It's October.  What does the bell have on it?"  Yes, I like to scheme and trap people who spend their time perfecting useless tools like "boRing face."

"Um.  Ponies!  It has Ponies on it. Can we get hot chocolate?"

"It doesn't.  Hey, how about when you're down there, you draw me a picture of the Liberty Bell so you can show me what's different about it?"

"Ok!  Cool I will!  Can we get ice cream?"

That was early October, and over Thanksgiving weekend we took our friends and her best-friend-ever Mal (who looks much better now the stitches are out) to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  Part of the process now is going to the large Independence Center to get tickets… which is in the opposite direction from Independence Hall.  Yeppers… it's a PITA.  But.  While there, we stopped by the Park Rangers' desk to pick up maps and test-run a trick I learned from my awesome sister in law: the Junior Rangers' Program.   I had no idea this was there, which is rare and unusual because …

(small digression)
Have I mentioned how much I love the United States' National and State Parks systems?  It's an epic state of total awe and adoration.  I love Zion, Brice, Cathedral Valley, the Tetons, the Rockies, Mammoth Hot Springs, which is part of Yellowstone, the Redwoods, Muir Woods… I am completely hooked on Hatteras and the Everglades and oh don't get me started on the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Wright Brothers' memorial.  I love the way the Golden Gate Bridge parks channeled Michael Schwab's art into a series of posters that speaks for those parks so eloquently.  I love the Park system's website, I love the hostels and the lodges.  I could go on (just in case you think I'm missing your favorite park), but I won't.
(end small digression)

… I am pretty excited about the National Parks in the US.    Ok so. The Junior Park Rangers program works like this:  You stop at the ranger's station and ask for the Junior Rangers' booklet, which contains questions and activities to do with the park you're about to walk through - mini-sized for kids.  If the kids fill out a certain number of pages, based on their age*, return it to the rangers station and - get this, this is so cool - they get a Junior Ranger badge for that Park.  Collect 'em all!  (*this is for kids 5 and up with some reading and office skills… alittle older is better… er, someday we'll actually finish one, but it's still fun if you don't get all the way through. Plus, free coloring books.)

So that's what we did with Mal and my daughter - scooped up some Junior Ranger's packets, gave them a good eyeful of the badge and off we went.  Before we were through with Independence Hall (which was a great tour… just closing on lunchtime with two kids who wanted to run with the pigeons), the badges were forgotten, but the booklets stayed with us all day and provided lots of coloring opportunities (read: great mealtime distraction). 

One of the first tasks in the booklet?  Draw the Liberty Bell.  Gotta love it.  The kids found the bell and sat down on the marble floor to draw it.  After a good stretch of silence and diligence and fortitude, my daughter leans over to her best friend and says "That looks good, but you need to make sure you get the big crack.  It's important.  And there are no ponies." 

(oh nice - Junior Ranger National Park games online!)

Posted in Americas : Dec.-Feb. : June-Aug. : March-May : Sept.-Nov. : Young Child by Fran W. at 8:36 PMPermalink

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