Summer is in full swing around here. Swimming lessons, playing outside, morning walks to the park, camps, and general laziness and enjoying not having a set schedule.
If you are looking for a fun and educational project to do with your kids that also earns you a FREE prize, read on! No traveling necessary! (just a printer and some paper!)
One thing we are doing this summer is working on a BUNCH of Junior Ranger Badges. We are going to Washington DC again (this is a common trip for us) and decided that we should do the Junior Ranger badges this time. We started doing the Junior Ranger program last summer when we visited all the National Parks in the State of Washington. The kids LOVED it. Plus a fantastic FREE souvenir! We also bought the passport books and started collecting the cancellation stamps. Another FREE souvenir and way to remember all our adventures! Also, there are badges you can earn without leaving your house! So even if you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can still take part!!
So For this trip, I have tried to print out as many of the junior ranger books as I can. Most of them are available on their website! For us, it is MUCH easier to work on all 5 kids books at home or in the car, instead of trying to help all of them there at the park. We’d rather be adventuring out in the parks, than trying to get all of them filled out – which is very time-consuming with 5!! Most even allow you to mail in your books and have your Ranger Badges mailed to you! Many have the address in their books, or simply check their website for their mailing address. This is great if you don’t get it all filled out while they are open or just don’t make it back to their ranger station in time for some reason. I actually am mailing in some of our Ranger books for this trip beforehand, so I don’t have to deal with keeping track of 500 badges/patches/books while on vacation! Plus it is fun to get something in the mail! Some we will get while we are there, and some mailed home to us! Since we have been to all (or most) of the sites several times before but never bothered to do the Junior Ranger before, they aren’t too hard to fill out. We are planning on doing about 18 badges for this trip – Wow! To top it all off, we are learning fun things about all the places we are going to vist!
Some sites have badges, some have patches. My 2 middle boys have special Junior Ranger Vests for their collection (see picture – they will get many more soon! Some of their current ones are on the back as well. One vest is from North Cascades NP, from last summer. The other vest is from Crater Lake, which we went to just a couple of weeks ago). My daughter uses a lanyard for hers. We keep the youngest’s in a drawer until he decides what he wants to do with it! I’m sure he’ll want a vest like his brothers. If you use something like the vest, or something they will wear around, I encourage you to buy locking pin backs for the pin type badges, and to hot glue the pin into the safety-pin type badges, because they will fall out. We have had them come off many times, but luckily noticed before they got lost! Phew! Now we always hot glue or put the locking backs on the pins before we let them wear them around on their vests/lanyard.
If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, there are SEVERAL that you can earn at home!! SWEET!!! We are going to start on these once we get the ones for our trip all filled out! (some we are actually working on FOR our trip too!) These are a fun way to do something educational with your kids and get a fun, FREE reward. We LOVE the Junior Ranger Program!!
Junior Ranger Badges you can earn at home:
Clara Barton (did this for our trip, since we will see her place in DC, but this is to be mailed in! Anyone can do it from their website!)
Underground Railroad (did this for our trip, since we will be going to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad museum/park, but this too is meant to be mailed in!! Address is in the book)
Star Spangled Banner Trail (another we are doing for our trip that gets mailed in!! Is meant to be done from their website!)
Chesapeake Bay (Another for our trip that is also meant to be mailed in!! It can even be emailed in!)
George Washington Parkway (another for our trip that is meant to be mailed in)
Lewis and Clark Trail (I noticed this one, when looking up sites in our state! It can be emailed too!)
Appalachian Trail (another one for our trip. We are doing the Harper’s Ferry one, since we will be going to Harper’s Ferry, but there are 3 different ones to choose from)
I’ll update the list if I find more than can be mailed in! Also, leave a comment if you know of one that I missed!
I’m sure there are more National Historic Trails that you can mail in. You can always search for the National parks/sites in your state and see if they offer a Junior Ranger. I was surprised at how many of the National Trails offer Junior Ranger, and most of those are meant to be mailed in! Find the ones near you or ones that your kids/family are interested in learning about. It is a fun and easy way to learn some history and get a little prize too!