Fort Stanwix National Monument – New York


Fort Stanwix National Monument
New York

http://www.nps.gov/fost/index.htm

Completed: July 20, 2018

Fort Stanwix is a re-creation of a fort which was the center of activity in the Mohawk Valley, upper central New York, around the Revolutionary War. A variety of people called this area home; Six Nation Confederacy (local Native Americans) and multiple European immigrants. The history is complex, but very well interpreted inside the visitor center and outside on the fort grounds.

The booklet indicates you are to complete the same number of pages as your age. With 13 activities this Senior ranger tried to do all 13. The ranger on duty was forgiving and allowed me to skip a couple of activities, we were on a tight travel schedule.

Activities included;
What’s Your Story? – 3 questions you answer based on one of four people you select who lived in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War. The questions explored the individuals and your opinion about the conflicts of the time, I selected Bear Clan Mother.

Using A Map – create your own map based on the many maps in the visitor center, plus label a map provided with at least four of 11 locations provided. My map focused on the Finger Lakes area.

What Do You See? – a quick draw of four items found in the visitor center based on something; a child would use and an adult would use in the past, a child and adult would use today.

Yours or Theirs? – two pages of items based on travel and transportation, clothing, weaponry and cooking that you select if the item would be used during the Revolutionary War.

Building Fort Stanwix – using wooden blocks provided to build a fort, then a sketch of it.

Who Am I? – 6 questions to identify people displayed on a wall titled; “Who’s Who on the New York Frontier”. I found this the most difficult task in the booklet, the information was there, but it took a lot of reading to match it to the details.

What’s Up With Waysides? – a walk outside and along the fort trail had you write down three things you learned from the wayside exhibits, plus a space to design tour own wayside. My wayside featured the Natural Environment that would have been present in 1777.


I Am So Wore Out With Fatigue! – a choice to attend a ranger program (if available) or watch the film shown in one of the fort rooms, then answer questions.

Where Are Your Rations? – a quick nine-square Tic-Tac-Toe of items found in the fort rooms.

Imagine Yourself When… Write or draw about how you would have spent a day around the fort. I wrote about candle-making, as a means to earn money to feed the family while the woman’s soldier was away.

What Do You Stand For? – Lots of flags have flown over Fort Stanwix, with a space to create your own flag.

Defended to the Last Extremity – a diagram of the defenses of the fort to be labeled.

Let’s Make A Deal – a quick maze based on trading goods at the fort.

Additional Activities – Traveling Bingo, Make Your Own Ink!, and Crossword Puzzle.

It was a busy day when I visited, but I was able to complete the activities in a little over an hour. I appreciated the time Ranger Scott spent with me reviewing my booklet and discussing some of the complexities of the history at Fort Stanwix National Monument.

Online booklet!
https://www.nps.gov/fost/learn/kidsyouth/upload/NPS_FOST_JRBooklet_11-12-Web.pdf

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African Burial Ground National Monument – New York

African Burial Ground National Monument
New York

http://www.nps.gov/afbg/index.htm

Senior Friendly

Completed: July 18, 2018

A relatively new site, it was added to the National Park Service in 2006. The story reaches back to the 17th and 18th century when African men, women and children were buried in lower Manhattan and then forgotten. In 1991 their graves were rediscovered when a new building site was being excavated. From there a series of events led to the development of this unique and well-interpreted site. Besides being in the center of New York City, on a summer day with local day camps visiting this site was lively. I appreciate how the park service has interpreted this difficult history. Possibly 20,000 individuals may have been buried in this 5 block area. Of those, 419 sets of remains were excavated and sent to Howard University in 1993. They were returned to the site in 2003 for reburial. The visitor center does an excellent job of explaining the history. Adjacent, but outside and around the corner, is a dramatic Memorial.

This Junior Ranger program is considered Senior Friendly as no upper age is given. Only 4 activities are required to be completed, with 10 different activities from which to chose.

Artifacts Pictures of artifacts found on this site with the names scrambled, to be unscrambled.

Language Using Senegal, one of the African languages spoken, a couple of sentences which included my name and where I am from was transcribe. A translation guide was provided.

Who Am I? Short description of individuals are provided, using information from the visitor center displays I identified them. The descriptions focused on the circumstances of their slavery and their determination to become free.

Symbols Several Andinkra symbols are shown with their meaning; Wisdom & Prudence, Hope, Guardinship and Patience & Tolerance. For this activity you draw your own symbol.


Be A Reporter Using the timeline in the visitor center nine events from 1991 up to 2010 are identified detailing the discovery of the remains, up to the opening of the visitor center.

Fill In The Blank Completing the 5 sentences from informations found in the visitor center.

Freedom For me – “Freedom to speak freely!”

Memorial Stepping outside the answer to these 7 questions are found at the Memorial.

Africa Color Africa your favorite color.

Experience Your America An opportunity to list the ways to care for all of the National Parks.

Even with lots of summer camps kids experiencing the site I was able to complete the booklet in about 1-1/2 hours. The space is small and packed with excellent displays and information. The ranger on duty willingly helped me with a few of the questions. Besides receiving the enhanced, smaller metal badge I received an attractive patch.

Next time you are in New York City take time to visit the African Burial Ground Monument, it literally is ‘history’ under your feet.

Minidoka National Historic Site – Idaho

Minidoka National Historic Site
Idaho

http://www.nps.gov/miin/index.htm

Completed: June 13,2018

This stop along our route was a re-visit to this site. It was good to see that there is now a visitor center, interpretive signs, ballpark and other buildings in progress of being restored. The ranger on duty was a wealth of information, providing excellent information about this historic site. I always find it difficult to visit the sites within the National Park Service which interpret dark times in our history, but I appreciate the honesty which the information is presented. The site is small and the Junior Ranger booklet can be completed easily during a short visit.

The program is not Senior Friendly as the oldest age listed is 12, however the ranger on duty readily provided the booklet to this Senior. Of the 11 activities in the booklet, 6 are to be completed by these 6-9 years old and 8 of the activities by those 10-12 years old.


The eleven activities are;
Minidoka Word Search – 15 words related to this site.
What Would You Take? – with only five days notice and just able to bring suitcases this activity had you list what you would bring, how much could you fit in one suitcase and what you would have to leave behind. This was difficult and eye-opening.
Connect the Centers – Matching the 10 Relocation Centers with the states scattered in 7 Western states,
Minidoka Journal – writing about a day of life in the camp. I wrote about the heat and wind and a brother playing baseball.
Haiku – Bright blue skies
Thinking of grey skies
And going home soon
Fill-in-the-Blank – 7 words are given to complete sentences which provide background about relocation camps.
Finding Your Way Home – a quick maze based on when the Japanese-Americans began returning home in 1945.
Color By Number – coloring the logo for this site, the entry gate.
Ask A Ranger – I learned that most of the internees at Minidoka came from the Pacific NW.
Was It There? – deciding if typical buildings in a city were present at Minidoka; such as post office, library, gas station, schools, theatre, and churches were present.
Cryptogram – using a key, words are decoded that describe where the internees cane from, where they were assigned and other details related to this time in history.

Prior to leaving the site the ranger presented me with the enhanced wooden Junior Ranger badge. This site is near other park sites, as well as Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge which is well worth a visit while in the area.

Waterton Lakes National Park – Alberta, CN


Fringed Grass of Parnassus

Waterton Lakes National Park
British Columbia, Canada

Completed: July 2017

Senior Friendly

As a park partnered with the US Glacier National Park and sharing an international border, Waterton Lakes is a site I have visited several times over the years. On a previous visit I was fortunate to travel south by boat on Upper Waterton Lake to visit Goat Haunt, on the northern edge of Glacier National Park. On this visit I explored more of the land-based sections of Waterton Lakes, getting some wonderful wildflower photos.

This program is considered Senior Friendly, as no age levels are given. No minimum activities are stated to become an Xplorer at this park. The activities include; Join In, Take It Easy, Figure It Out, Find It, Create Your Own, Take A Look, Get Moving, Take A Drive, Search For, Listen, and Imagine.

Join In: A quick journal entry about the evening program Plant Wars. This was an excellent program, lots of audience participation.

Take It Easy -Do Your Part: A checklist of five environmentally friendly things I did while visiting the park.

Figure It Out – Caution: Mother Nature at Work: check mark for visits to homes for plants and animals. I was able to see an avalanche which created Bertha Falls and a flood area at Cameron Creek.

Find It: A Bingo card featuring Flowers, Butterflies and Bees. I was able to find 7 of 9.

Get Moving – Four Seasons of Fun. Creating a bucket list of things to do during the season of your visit. Mine included to camp at Crandall Lake, visit the Native Plants Garden and take flower photos.


Harebell – Campanula rotundifolia

Listen – The Sounds Around: Create a chart listing natural sounds and human-made sounds. While visiting the park the natural sounds I heard were; rain, thunder, the chattering of a red squirrel, a bird singing and a rushing river.

At the end of the evening program, at the campground, I presented my completed booklet to Ranger Brenna and received the last of my awards from Parks Canada, on this trip. I think their Xplorers program was very well done. I enjoyed each park’s activities as I travelled through Canada in July 2017. I look forward to a return visit to Canada and completing more of their programs.

Kootenay National Park – British Columbia, Canada


Kootenay National Park
British Columbia, Canada

Completed: July 2017

Senior Friendly

Tucked into the Rocky Mountains, not far from the ‘rock stars’ of Jasper and Banff National Parks is Kootenay. After spending a couple days dodging the crowds of those parks I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this park. Shortly after entering from the eastside we stop at the roadside monument where the Great Divide Trail crosses the main highway through the park. This is a continuation of the Continental Divide Trail which is the US portion of a trail that connects the southern border of New Mexico to the northern border of Montana, and into Canada. It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening, limiting the opportunity to take landscape photos.

This program is considered Senior Friendly, as no age levels are given. Only five*activities are required to become an Xplorer. The activities include; check it Out, Create Your Own, Go Investigate, Join In, Figure it Out, Take A Walk, Try it Out, Take A Look, Go Play, Use Your Senses, Take it Easy, Go Meet, and Remember.

Check it Out – Your Destinations: While visiting I was able to go to Marble Canyon, Continental Divide, Vermillion Crossing, Olive Lake and the Kootenay

Try it Out – Haven off the Highway: while exploring Olive Lake I counted 14 bird sounds, which I identified as Baried Thrush.

Take A Look – Traveling Tracks: Matching six animals with their tracks.

Go Play- A Pathway to Paint: Using ochre (watercolor pencil) paint I ‘painted’ some animals seen in the park.

Use Your Senses – Natural Noise in the Park: Listing the natural and man-made sounds

Take it Easy – Natural Noises Word Scramble: From Tweet (wtete) to Growl, six animal sounds to unscramble

Remember -My Favourite Trip Tale: a short written memory about camping at Marble Canyon, experiencing an afternoon thunderstorm.

The next morning we enjoyed a delightful breakfast of fresh baked scones in the Kootenay Mountain Lodge at Vermillion Crossing before continuing west to Radium Hot Springs and the visitor center for the park. After reviewing my completed booklet the staff presented my with the dog-tag style award as a Parks Canada Xplorateurs. I guess I got the French language tag for this park.

*current web page indicates six activities

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/kootenay/activ/interp

Glacier National Park -British Columbia, Canada

Glacier National Park
British Columbia, Canada

Completed: July 2017

Senior Friendly

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains is Canada’s Glacier National Park, just as spectacular as the one a bit further to the South and across the U.S. border. The glaciers, peaks and rushing rivers were magnificent! I was fortunate to be able to camp at Mount Sir Donald campground along the Illecillewaet River. Besides giving me some extra time to work on the Xplorers booklet I was able to explore along the river.


Dwarf Fireweed

Some of my favorite photos of the trip were taken here. Dwarf fireweed (Chamaenerion latifolium) was blooming in the riverbed, a gorgeous backdrop to Mount Sir Donald. Also while wandering along the riverbed I watched an American Dipper make trips between its nest, under the highway bridge and down to the river.


American Dipper

This program is considered Senior Friendly, as no age levels are given. Only three activities are required to become an Xplorer. The activities include; Find It, Take A Look, Go Investigate; Become a Tracker and The Scoop on Poop, Join In, Figure it Out, Find It, Use Your Senses, Get Moving, Try it Out, and Find It.

Completed Activities:
Find It – Bingo! I completed one full diagonal row to include Park Staff, Cedar, Mosquito and Red Squirrel, as well as Creek or river, Steller’s Jay, and Fireweed

Take A Look – Eye Spy Through The Park; some of sights I saw as we drove through the park includes; Canada Park, Trans-Canada Highway, Steller’s Jay, An avalanche path,Glacied National Park West Entrance sign,Waterfalls, The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, The Robers Pass Summit Monument, Loop Brook Pillar, Train tracks, A Raven, and Mount Sir Donald (from our campsite).

Go Investigate – The Scoop on Poop! Matching seven animal’s scat description with the animal. I learned that bear scat floats because of all the wood they eat.

Figure It Out – Glacier’s Animals, a crossword puzzle based on the animals found throughout the park.

Find It – Scavenged Hunt; found a rock, moss, pine cons, fern (something alive), stump and (something dead).

Find It – Mountain Maze; follows a maze route through the Selkirk Mountains.

After a night of camping at Mount Sir Donald we stopped at The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre where my book was reviewed and I was given the dog-tag style for Glacier National Park.

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/glacier/activ/~/media/46569C22CC844D3C9209C58D7CF31D81.ashx

Mount Revelstoke National Park – British Columbia, Canada


Mount Revelstoke National Park
British Columbia, Canada

Completed: July 2017

Senior Friendly

Mount Revelstoke National Park is on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, near the busy town of Revelstoke and along the Columbian River. We entered from the west, along Trans Canada Highway 1, a busy cross-country highway which cuts through the middle of the park.

This was our first view of the red chairs, Parks Canada has placed pairs of the chairs in the parks. A place to sit and enjoy a special spot in the parks. I found this one along the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, an easy trail just off the highway.

This program is considered Senior Friendly, as no age levels are given. Only three activities are required to become an Xplorer. The activities include; Use Your Senses, Take A Look, Search For, Figure it Out, Get Moving, Try it Out, Figure it Out, Search For, Take a Look, Create your Own, Go Meet and Find It.

Most of those titles don’t give you much of an idea of the activity, so I’ll briefly describe the ones that I completed. We visited seven of the parks in a week, so not much time was spent in any one park. I appreciated that only three activities had to be completed and there was a great variety of activities.

Search For was a wordsearch for 24 plant names of plants found in this park. Figure it Out was a crossword about ski jumping, a sport with history at Revelstoke. For Take a Hike I walked along the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, much more pleasant than the name hints. Besides finding the red chairs I enjoyed the walk along sections of boardwalk and into a dense forest.

Search For has two options; find 100 animals in the park or find 12 animals pictured in a colorful graphic in the book. With my limited time I chose the easier and faster activity of finding the 12 animals. Overall the graphics in this booklet are excellent and really nice for this activity.

A scavenger hunt at Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk completed the activity for Take A Look. I saw quite a few of the items listed, however I did not see an American Dipper which I saw later at another park on our trip. I attempted Find It, a Bingo! Square, but was unable to complete a row of four. Almost, but not four in a row. It was fun to look for the items, I wished I could have found more along the way.

I brought the booklet to a visitor center in Glacier National Park. After reviewing the booklet and discussing my visit the staff signed the certificate contained in the booklet declaring me an ‘Official Parks Canada Xplorer’. I also received the colorful Xplorer dog tag. Even though I didn’t spend a full day in this park I found the activities a great way to experience Mount Revelstoke National Park.

Online:
https://pcacdn.azureedge.net/-/media/pn-np/bc/glacier/pdf/Xplorers/Xplorer_MtRevelstoke_English.pdf?la=en&modified=20130213223646&hash=EB441675D2658CB453FBC6185417446D317BDBF0

*The Canadian Encyclopedia

Big Bend National Park – The Centennial Challenge, Texas


Pictographs along the Hot Springs Canyon Trail

Big Bend National Park – The Centennial Challenge
Texas

Completed: March 23, 2016

https://www.nps.gov/bibe/learn/kidsyouth/becomeajuniorranger.htm

In 2016 the National Park Service celebrated their centennial, 100 years of sharing our country’s natural, historical and cultural places. Many parks had special events and programs, Big Bend National Park introduced “The Centennial Challenge”, a hiking challenge. As of August 2018 it is still being listed on their website. I need to get back there and finish the longer hike to Emory Peak. I’ll update this posting when I have finished the challenge.

The two challenges I did complete were easy and fun! A handout accompanies the challenge with activities to complete during each hike. The shortest trail, 400 feet, is a walk through the Panther Path of Chihuahuan Desert plants at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. The plants along the path were interesting, many a bit different than what I see in the Sonoran Desert of SE Arizona. Besides identifying the plants there were a couple which you sketched. Even though the walk was short I learned a lot about the plants in this park.

The second challenge was a hike, 3 miles one way, along the Rio Grande River, past a hot springs. It started at a historic location, The Hot Springs Hotel ruins. There are a few building ruins before you start walking towards the hot springs and eventually arrive at the Rio Grande Village area. I was fortunate to be able to hike this one way, however the round trip hike would have been enjoyable as most of the hike follows the river with gentle slopes and great trail. The challenge has you answer four questions along the route, based on features seen while hiking.

Any time spent in Big Bend National Park is time well spent, but completing The Centennial Challenge guided me to some areas I might not have explored, especially the Hot Springs Canyon Trail. Now to make plans for the final hike…

Hawai`i Island National Parks – Hawai`i


Black-necked Stilt

Hawai`i Island National Parks Junior Ranger Adventure Book

Completed: November 2017

This is a unique Junior Ranger program, and one I thoroughly enjoyed completing while visiting the Big Island of Hawai`i. I was on the island for a week so I had time to work on the activities for the five units; one national park, two national historical parks, a national historic site and a national historic trail.

As you complete all of the activities for each park, you receive their junior ranger badge. Additionally, the more park badges you earn, the higher the level of rewards you receive. In place of describing the activities for the different sites I hope the pictures will show how much fun this program was to complete.

The booklet lists the ages for this program as 7 to 12, however every site was very welcoming to this Senior Ranger.

Pu’ukoholā Heiau NHS
11/3/2017
A small site that was a place for the royal family, where a battle was fought and today, a refuge for sharks.
This site also has a Senior Ranger, or as it is called in Hawai`i, Kapuna Ranger. I only had to complete a couple of pages in the Kapuna Ranger booklet, in addition to the four pages in the main booklet.


Ala Kahakai NHT
11/4/2017
The trail traverses the Hawaiian coast for 175 miles. While visiting Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park I hiked a section of the trail, along the “1871 Trail”.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau NHP
11/4/2017
This is the site of another place for the royals, as well as a place of refuge, pu’uhonau. I joined a group of junior rangers and a ranger to weave a fish from coconut leaves.

Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP
11/5/2017
Fish are an important resource to the people of Hawai`i, at this site the historical fishponds can be explored.

Hawai’i Volcanoes NP
11/6/2017
Last, but not least was time spent at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Our visit was six months before the Kīlauea crater became very active, causing local damage and restricting access to the park, at times. Besides seeing the crater near the Jaggar Museum, I really enjoyed hiking out to the petroglyphs. They are unique, mostly on rocks lying on the ground, not up on rock walls as I have typically seen.

I loved working on this program, the activities for each site were unique and interesting. As usual, I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed exploring these sites.

Hawai`i Island National Parks Junior Ranger – Adventure Book & Patch

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Utah


Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
Utah

https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/utah/grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument

Junior Scientist

Completed: May 20, 2016

The beauty of this monument is incredible, expansive and memorable. Get Outside and explore this unique landscape! My few photos do not do justice to this landmass, however the diversity of this monument is well represented in the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet.

When I completed the program in 2016 this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Monument was much larger than it is as I write this blog. And, as I recently drove through the area I was saddened to realize this monument, which was shrunk in size in early 2018, had been reduced in areas that were previously readily accessible from major roadways . I only hope that one day, soon, the original boundaries can restored.

This program does have an upper age limit printed in the booklet, however I was provided the booklet and badge readily. To become a Junior Scientist you need to;
Watch the “Traces in Time” video, available at several of their visitor centers.
6-8 years old completes 3 or more activities, 9-12 years old completes 5 or more activities.
Activities include;
Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt, Climbing the Grand Staircase, Paleontology Tool Hunt, Creating a Landscape, Top-Toe through the Crypto, Animal Tracks, Connecting to the Past, Human History, Leave No Trace, and Journal.

The Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt can be completed by visiting the four visitor centers and identifying each center’s theme and answer one question. During this one trip I was able to visit all four sites so I was able to complete all of the activities. As an adult, if you plan to complete this program, plan to visit all four visitor centers – well worth the views along the way!

Creating a Landscape was a drawing activity to illustrate how geology, through deposition and erosion, creates different landscape. My basic sketch depicted a rain cloud over the slick rock. I enjoyed Animal Tracks which included a story with animal tracks embedded, you had to match the animal’s tracks to the animal in the story.

Besides highlighting geology and biology the booklet includes great activities to learn about cryptobiotic soil, paleontology, archeology and environmental impact. The diversity of this monument is well represented in these activities. After exploring Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument I completed all of the activities on the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet I received the badge at the Escalante Visitor Center.