1,190 Kids Complete Junior Ranger Camps in 2017
August 16, 2017 | Permalink
The summer of 2017 is drawing to a close, and with it the junior ranger camps at our parks across the state have ended. Between the months of June and July, 44 of our parks hosted camps and reached over 1,190 kids.
Every summer, and even throughout the school year at fall and spring break camps, kids across the state take the Junior Ranger pledge; “I will love and care for the nature and history of Tennessee, it's plants, animals and people that make it special to me.”
This summer we have had a record number of Junior Rangers participating, both kids that have returned to junior ranger camps and kids that were brand new to the program. There were parks that were completely filled within hours of the registration including Dunbar Cave in Clarksville, Tennessee. The demand was so high that Ranger Emily Stevenson decided to organize an additional camp in July so more kids could participate.
We also had parks participate that had never held Junior Ranger programs, such as Booker T. Washington State Park. “I’ve never touched a snake before! It’s really nice!” a Junior Ranger exclaimed at the end of the snake program on day two of Booker T’s camp. Ranger Robert Thomas was able to reach out to local community groups and had 70 kids participate in his camp this year.
Seasonal Interpretive Ranger Destiny Adcox has been working with the Interpretation and Education Team since April 2017. “Going to assist with Junior Ranger camps has been the bulk of my job this summer," said Adcox. "The job allowed me to travel the state, visit parks I had not been to before, and meet children from all different areas. I have had the pleasure to help teach these kids about nature, recreation, and history. This is an amazing program for the state to have, and I'm thankful to have been a part of it!”
Each park offers Junior Rangers a unique experience while following similar structure, and covering the same six topics of safety, astronomy, history, water, wildlife and plants. For example, in east Tennessee, children at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area are offered a camp that provides a historical perspective of the Seven Years War. They get to meet and talk with native Cherokee people and learn traditional skills such as blacksmithing and woodworking.
While at Frozen Head State Park, a park well known for long backpacking trails and plethora of recreation opportunities, the kids learn basic survival skills and how to be safe while in the outdoors. A Junior Ranger from Frozen Head, who had never been to a Junior Ranger camp before, exclaimed, “Thank you for coming to help us. How did you get this job? What’s your favorite part of this job? I think I want your job when I grow up!”
Overall, this summer was a huge success in terms of Junior Ranger camps, and we will continue to make this program even bigger and better. If you are interested in learning more about the Tennessee State Parks Junior Ranger program visit www.tnjuniorranger.com.