Posted by: Kirsten | Monday, 21 April 2008

Junior Ranger Day in the Smokies

From an NPS press release…

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the second annual National Junior Ranger Day on April 26 with special activities at the park’s three visitor centers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children and their families can join in a variety of free hands-on activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN; Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC; and Cades Cove’s Cable Mill Visitor Center near Townsend, TN.

Activities planned will range from searching for salamanders to making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop. Historic toymaking, weaving, wildflower searches, and cornhusk doll making are a few of the other natural and cultural opportunities that will be available. Information on the specific programs is available at the visitor centers.

“National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children and families to spend time together learning about the park that offers an array of educational experiences and recreational opportunities right in their own backyard,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We hope that our local residents will take advantage of this program to interact with our staff and the resources, and, at the same time, plan a day doing activities in the park.”

The park’s Junior Ranger program has received national awards for its specially-designed interactive programs and its four separate age appropriate booklets. The Junior Ranger booklets, produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, will be available for children who want to become Junior Rangers. The booklets are designed to better serve a variety of age groups with a booklet targeted for each of the following ages: 5 to 6, 7 to 8, 9 to 10 and 11 to 12. Booklets can be purchased for $2.50 each at park visitor centers.

National Junior Ranger Day is a special event for National Park Week, celebrated this year between April 19 and 27. Most parks throughout the country will host ceremonies, interactive games, and special events designed to connect children with the resources found in national parks. National Park Week is an annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebration and recognition of National Parks. National parks are living examples of the best the nation has to offer. This year’s theme is, “Kids in Parks.”

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