Calling all children ages 6-12 for a week of fun, educational and entertaining activities as part of Wilderness Road State Park’s annual Junior Rangers program set for Monday, July 20 through Friday, July 24 from 9 am- 12 noon daily.
Following a short absence, the Junior Rangers program returns this season and as part of their week long journey, participants will have the opportunity to explore nature at its best by making a nature journal through hands on activities including a stroll in the stream in search of fascinating creatures, a trail-walk to discover the unique traits of our various native trees, birds and animals along with a scavenger hunt using GPS (Global Positioning System) units. Each day will also be filled with arts and crafts with an awards day to be held on the final day, with each child decorating their own t-shirt as a keepsake while receiving a certificate of completion, honoring them as Wilderness Road State Park Junior Rangers.
We’ve come up with some very nice programs to offer the kids and we also put our creative minds together to come up with some catchy names for these activities.
Critters in the Creek! will open an aquatic world that is waiting to be uncovered. Through a virtual game of hide and seek, Junior Rangers will encounter crawdads, salamanders, aquatic insects and bugs as well as small fish and minnows as they explore an underwater environment. “This portion of our program will provide a safe opportunity for kids to learn fascinating facts about aquatic creatures by turning over submerged rocks, looking under logs and seining with a net,” explains Olivia Norton, Conservation Intern at Wilderness Road State Park. Once the critters have been collected, they will be placed in holding containers where they can be identified, with children able to record this information into their journal along with a sketch of each species. “So kick off your shoes and come on down to the creek for a wet, fun-filled day of adventure!”
Embark on a Journey to Discover our Roots! will take the children along Indian Ridge Trail where native trees await for their story to be unearthed. Utilizing hands-on measuring methods, they will determine how old the trees are while understanding the unique characteristics that make them different from one another. “We hope to teach the children how to identify trees by studying their bark, the shape and texture of their leaves, and by looking at their buds,” said Norton. Throughout the day, they will collect various leaves to include in their nature journal as well as for use in art projects such as leaf painting. There will also be games for children to participate in such as an identification game.
Birds Eye View! will educate children about native birds of the area, such as where they are commonly found, what they eat, where they nest and what they sound like. They will have the opportunity to observe various bird nests up close, with a brief Power Point presentation teaching them how to identify our native birds through vivid photos, by their distinct calls and what their eggs look, all while offering fun facts and information. A bird-watching hike on the Wilderness Road Trail will offer the chance to see birds in their natural habitat. Some fun activities will include games, coloring and creating their own bird feeders to take home for their own enjoyment.
Peek-a-Boo, I See You! Offers a glimpse into the wild world we call Wilderness Road State Park. Many animals call the park home. Some of these animals include the gray squirrel, cotton-tail rabbit, American bison and white-tailed deer. The kids will learn about their habitats, behavior and how to identify them by their tracks and scat. A walk along the park grounds and around the woods may offer clues as to what animals live in which habitats, with a nearby rustle possibly offering a glimpse at one of these extraordinary creatures. As part of the hands-on portion of the program, participants will have the chance to see and touch the skulls of a bison and black bear. “We hope to have the hide of both the bison and black bear for the kids to be able to touch and feel,” stated Norton. “We know everyone’s fingerprints are different and so we thought we would do a project to show how tracks act as the fingerprints of animals. These tracks help to identify the animals that left them, just as fingerprints can aid us in identifying humans. To help tie these two together, the kids will participate in making their own tracks at the end of the day using their creativity”
Navigate the Way! will challenge the children with a scavenger hunt that will reveal a reward for each participant. Using GPS navigational units provided by the park, the scavenger hunt will consist of various waypoints that include hidden clues that direct hunters to the next location. “Our final waypoint will be a surprise, but we set the tone for the remainder of the final day of activities,” explained Norton.
We will hold a graduation and awards ceremony on the final day of the program with family and friends invited to attend with light refreshments provided by the park. Along with graduation certificates, awards for the outstanding ranger for each day’s activities will be presented.
“With a team effort from the staff at Wilderness Road State Park, I’m sure this will be a fun, educational and enjoyable summer experience among nature’s beauty! I can’t wait to host the rangers for a full week of adventure,” states Norton, with park office assistant Karen Southerland adding, “Olivia and I are looking forward to helping to resurrect the Junior Rangers program here at Wilderness Road. With our combined enthusiasm for nature, we will present the children with a fun and informative schedule of activities.”
Pre-registration is required. For the safety of the children during this week of fun outdoor experiences, hats, sunblock, and bug spray are recommended. With most activities requiring walking along various terrains it is recommended children wear comfortable shoes.
For more information, or to register, please call the park office at 276-445-3065 or email us at: [email protected].