Inspired by the Blue Star Family #bluestarsummer Bingo challenge this summer, we added the Junior Ranger program at the National Parks on our summer bucket list. A few weeks ago, we went to Point Loma to learn, explore and earn our Junior Ranger badges.
Military families can get annual memberships for the National Parks for free all year long. This awesome program is provided by the National Parks Service and can get you into any of the National Parks across the US. Using our annual membership, we went to Cabrillo National Monument for free. If you don’t have an annual membership, the cost is reasonable at a week-long pass for $15 for one non-commercial vehicle.
The Cabrillo National Monument is located on Point Loma. Driving there will feel like you are driving through a neighborhood (because you are) and then driving through base (you aren’t, but you are driving by Naval Base Point Loma). On this road, you just keep going straight. The monument is on the tip of the Point, and on the way there offers beautiful vista views.
Junior Ranger Program
There is a lot to explore at Cabrillo National Monument – enough to go back for entire week, but for today’s post will be focusing on the Junior Ranger Program.
The Junior Ranger is available at some National Parks across the US. This FREE program is geared for kids ages 2 and up. At the information desk, each ranger receives a worksheet and pencil with questions to answer while exploring the parks. The Cabrillo NPS offered a questionnaire for kids ages 2-7 and 7+.
On the worksheet, there are age specific areas for coloring, question answering and exploring. We went to the monument and walked to the lighthouse. There are large pathways throughout the make it stroller and wheelchair friendly, but within the Historic Point Loma Lighthouse there is a small winding staircase where you will need to babywear or opt to not go upstairs. It took us three hours to answer the questions, but still have to go back for the tide pools, cave and hike trails. We will be back.
Once you complete the worksheet, you return to the information desk and turn it in. The volunteers or Park Ranger will run your kiddo through a couple questions. Once answered, your kiddo will be handed a wooden Junior Ranger badge (More than likely, the adult that helped the kiddo with the worksheet will also get a badge.) The key to becoming a Junior Ranger is to make sure they understand to respect and stay safe in the nature around them, and how to share that with others. Within seconds of receiving the badge, it was added to the clothing accessories for the day and worn proudly. Each park has different worksheets, and we look forward to exploring other worksheets in the future.
Will you check out the Junior Ranger Program at a National Park near you? Or plan a visit to one? We hope you do!