Friday, March 25, 2011

Junior Rangers

Grand Lake is on the southwestern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, almost due west of Boulder. There's not much you can do in the mountains around the town of Grand Lake that doesn't enter the National Park boundaries. We visited the Kawuneeche Visitor Center one afternoon, part of RMNP, and the Ranger there gave the girls activity books to complete to become Junior Rangers. This was a serious endeavor to them and they worked hard to complete all the activities in the book so they could earn their Junior Ranger badge.
The activities mostly centered around learning good stewardship of the Park and other natural environs, attending a ranger program, and spending time observing the natural world around them and all the little details they could notice about the plants and animals that live there. Because of the cold temperatures this time of year we just talked about everything in the book while we were out snowshoeing and then filled the book out later when we were back at the cabin in the evening. The girls did learn a lot and enjoyed being so observant about God's creation around them. The next day we took their completed books back to the Ranger station to present for their badges.
This is the Ranger looking over their books with them and talking about all the things they learned and saw:
She gave them so much attention and was so sweet to them, they loved it and loved sharing with her everything they learned. I'm sure it would have been a slightly different experience if we were doing this in the middle of the summer at the height of the tourist season when the Rangers are much busier, but she was so glad to spend time with them and look in detail at the work they had done, noticing things that usually only your own Mommy would notice.
After looking over their books she had them take the Junior Ranger pledge:
Each of the girls got to wear a Ranger hat while she pinned their badge on them.

Josie getting her badge pinned on her:

Proud Junior Ranger Jo:
Anna getting her badge:

Junior Ranger Anna:
The Ranger even offered to give us a badge for Ruthie, understanding how hard it is to be the littlest and be left out of something like that (Ruthie really was too young to complete any of the activities), but we refused. Anna and Josie were so proud of the work they had done to earn their badges and took their responsibilities as Junior Rangers so seriously that it seemed it would trivialize it for them if Ruthie received a badge as well for doing nothing and pledging nothing. Luckily for us she slept through the whole thing anyway and wasn't too jealous of their badges afterwards. She understood that they had worked hard to earn their badge and she hadn't. Her big sisters assured her, though, that soon she would be old enough to earn her own Junior Ranger badge.
Congratulations, Anna and Josie, my little Junior Rangers! May you always keep your awe of and love for the natural world around you and may you never cease to notice all the amazing little details of this world.

1 comment:

Michael and Jeanette said...

I think I especially love the 'Junior Ranger Jo' picture. But all of them are so great-- they really capture the pride of two girls who are taking their new role seriously with just the right amount of reflective somberness. I remember becoming a Junior Ranger too, and in fact still have a couple of patches, one from Yosemite and I think I have a Yellowstone one too. Maybe one day you'll grow up to be Senior Rangers and we'll meet you in the backcountry on the Pacific Crest Trail and you'll check our passes, just like the last Ranger we saw. -Michael