Being a Junior Ranger is all about fun (2010)
If you’re between ages 6-12, Oregon State Parks has a campground program for you
Go on a treasure hunt, follow animal tracks, hear tall tree tales, get a close look at an incredible insect, discover a park secret… even learn where J.R. Beaver lives.
Parents will discover that OPRD’s Junior Rangers program is more than fun and games. Park rangers and volunteers encourage children to connect with nature, play safely in the outdoors and respect parks and the environment.
But, back to the exciting stuff.
Is it so much fun that, as rumored on our website, park rangers have had to start checking IDs because “grown men and women have masqueraded as kids to get in?”
“Absolutely,” says Junior Ranger Coordinator Kate Sweeney at Nehalem Bay State Park. As she was on her way to guide kids and parents to a giant anthill, Kate adds,“What we do is aimed at the kids, but we also try to make it as interesting as we can for adults.”
Parents are encouraged to join in, says Kate, and often learn things they didn’t know about insects, tide pools, seals, sea lions, whales, birds, plants, wildlife tracking, and yes, how to find J.R. Beaver. “Sometimes, it’s surprising to find out how much you don’t know.”
Children earn awards tied to three different levels of activities. At each level, aspiring Junior Rangers must complete four out of six activities:
- Discovering a park “secret;”
- Learning about recycling;
- Attending a park program, including a Junior Ranger activity;
- Finding and identifying three special plants or animals, and
- Doing their part to keep a park clean, and
- Learning how to “play it safe.”
First-level Junior Rangers earn a badge and the Secret Junior Ranger Greeting. Level-two rewards include a J.R. Beaver pencil and a decal. Third-level graduates receive a Junior Ranger patch and a special certificate signed by J.R.
A busy J.R. Beaver presents awards and often shows up at parks during the summer. Take a look at the Be a Junior Ranger brochure and map of the parks offering Junior Ranger programs.