Calling All Pee Wee Rangers To the National Parks

Pee Wee Ranger programs for kids age 3 and 4 are spreading across the National Park System.

Is your young-un too young to get involved in the National Park Service's Junior Ranger program? Well, here's news that some parks have created a Pee Wee Ranger Program for kids aged 3 and 4.

Glacier Bay National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are just two of the parks that have created programs geared to 3- and 4-year-olds. (The Junior Ranger Program is for kids age 5-12.)

The existence of youth programs tailored to specific age ranges creates an atmosphere of educational inclusion for younger visitors and their families without the potential dilution of activities for older participants. Although the activities in the Pee Wee Ranger Program are aligned with curriculum standards for preschoolers, Jewel Cave staff encourages parents and family members to engage with the learning process. As participants complete an activity booklet and take part in ranger-guided activities, they grow in understanding of the monument. The intent of the program is not merely to educate kids, however, but also to create the next generation of cave stewards and NPS enthusiasts.

An activity book for Pee Wee Junior Rangers compiled by the staff at Glacier Bay encourages them to learn about bears and hummingbirds in the park by coloring a page with outlines of those animals; teaches them about sea life via a page that asks kids to identify sea stars, and; gets them to learn about Tlingit Indians by correctly identifying drawings of Tlingit canoes. Those are just some of the activities contained in the 16-page booklet.

In return for completing at least six pages in the booklet and pledging to "take care of special places like Glacier Bay National Park" the kids are given signed certificates that recognize them as Pee Wee Rangers.

While we can't find a list of all national parks that offer Pee Wee Ranger programs, if this sounds like a good program for your kids, ask at the visitor center of the parks you visit if they have such a program.

Comments

At Grand Canyon's North Rim we have a program for pre-Jr Rangers called "Brighty Kids" where we talk about predator/prey relationships and the kids use stamps to match the animal to a description. They earn a button.

We'll look for this program this summer, but our 3-yo has 6 Jr. Ranger badges (she has an older sister who participated also) - Park Rangers were always very supportive of both kids. The best benefit is that she is disgusted by litter and always wants to pick it up because she is a "Junion Ranger."

North Cascades National Park has excellent booklets for age 3-5 and 5-8, all very age appropriate!

And Yosemite NP has a Little Cub program for the small ones (Little Cub program ages 3-6. Junior Ranger program ages 7-12). If my memory is correct, they receive a Junior Ranger badge and a Little Cub pin.