Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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

Completed: May 4, 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/cave/learn/kidsyouth/upload/JRRanger7-12final-7-1-2011.pdf
For ages 7 – 12

I have toured Carlsbad Caverns several times over the years, based on those experiences, plus time I spent above ground on this visit, I was able to complete this Junior Ranger program. I always enjoy the drive in, through the canyon winding up to the visitor center. On this visit we took the loop dirt road which leaves the main road, near the visitor center, and comes back to the east. There are several pullouts and trailheads. We hiked up a ridge, almost to the park boundary, enjoying the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem. So, there is more than just caverns at this park.

The booklet I completed was for ages 7 – 12 which I downloaded and printed before this visit. The park webpage indicates a downloadable copy of the booklet for ages 13 and up will be available in the future, the booklet for the older participants is available on site. To earn the badge for ages 7 – 12, you need to complete 7 of 14 activities. With no upper age limit this program is considered Senior Friendly.

The activities are; Respect and Protect, It Makes Perfect Sense!, Cave Scavenger Hunt, The Carlsbad Caverns Story, Ask a Ranger, Go Take a Hike!, What’s the Word?, Caverns Word Search, Draw Your Own Pictograph, Carlsbad Caverns Diamante, Hike the Natural Entrance, Walk through the Big Room, Ranger-guided tour and Ranger program/movie.

It Makes Perfect Sense! has you name the five senses and use four of them to describe cave features, such as hearing water drops. On this visit I hiked the Nature Trail, at the east end of the Visitor Center to identify ten plants and their use by people. Pictures in the booklet match with plants along the trail with signs which provide the plant name and uses.

Bat viewing Amphitheater

What’s the Word? was a crossword puzzle which the clues provided interesting information about the caverns, both natural history and geologic formations. I am usually not a big fan of a Word Search, but this one was presented with the key words embedded in several paragraphs describing the environment and cave formation process. I appreciate having some information about the words for which I am searching.

I enjoyed writing my poem for Carlsbad Caverns Diamante, a diamond-shaped poem which began with the word cave and ended with cavern. The seven line poem format was explained very well, I enjoyed coming up with the nouns, adjectives and participles (action words ending in ‘ing’) to describe caves.

With my completed booklet I brought it to the ranger desk in the Visitor Center for review. This is where I learned about the booklet for Ages 13 and above which has a few additional activities with more difficulty, but interesting. The booklet I completed was reviewed and I was awarded their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting cave formations.

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Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky

Dixon Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
Kentucky

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

Completed: August 11, 2016

Senior Friendly

I completed Mammoth Cave National Park’s Junior Ranger program during the NPS Centennial Year, 2016. During this year Kentucky NPS sites offered a special award, a patch, if you completed visits to all five of their park sites. Along with this park we also visited; Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP, Big South Fork NRRA, Cumberland Gap NHP and Fort Heiman/Fort Donelson NB.

This is a park site we had visited several times in the past, but had never taken the time to complete their program. Due to our travel schedule we were not able take a cave tour, luckily the Junior Ranger program can be completed without taking a cave tour. We were able to explore several trails while in the area.

This program is Senior Friendly, as there are four age groupings, and the upper age group is listed as Ages 12 & up. Their requirements for each age group is listed as Bat Points, each activity earns you one to two bat points and there are 28 different activities. The four age groupings and the required bat points are; Ages 4-5 – Collect 5, Ages 6-8 – Collect 9, Ages 9-11 – Collect 12 and Ages 12 & up – Collect 15 Bat Points.

The activities are; Put Your Ranger Hat On, Arrowhead Challenge, Decode Your Mission, Junior Researcher, Invent a New Cave Critter, Humans & Bats, Trog Word Search, A-maze-ing Cave Exploration, Let’s Go Caving, What’s Wrong With This Picture?, Caving Through Time, Karst-Word Puzzle, Rock Around the Park, Fossilmania, Tick-Tock, Drip-Drop, A Natural Menu, Watchable Wildlife, Animal Scramble, Nature Scavenger Hunt, Notebook Mix-Up, Early Guides of Mammoth Cave, Making Money from Dirt, Are We There Yet?, A Green Visitor Center and A Home To Be Proud Of.

That’s a lot of activities, what I like about this program is the variety of activities, which add up to 39 possible Bat Points. I also think the names of the activities are very well done, intriguing which led me to complete all but two of the activities. Most of the activities were fairly simple, there is a description or information given and then a short activity to complete.

Probably my favorite activities were either based on history, Caving Through Time and Making Money From Dirt, or on geology, Karst-World Puzzle, Rock Around the Park and Fossilmania. I always enjoy completing the scavenger hunt activities, including this one. The Nature Scavenger Hunt had 24 squares of primarily plants and animals. Because we hiked several trails in the park I located quite a few of the items. For the “Free Space! Draw Your Own” I drew a cicada, in August and on a hot day, they could be heard and their shells were found on the ground.

The ranger in the visitor center reviewed my booklet and awarded the enhanced Junior Ranger badge, featuring two cave explorers standing at the mouth of a cave.

 

Junior Cave Scientist – multiple sites

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Dixon Cave at Mammoth Cave National Park

Junior Cave Scientist
Geologic Resources Division – multiple sites

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/caves/junior-cave-scientist-program.htm

Completed: August 13, 2016 @ Cumberland Gap NHP – Kentucky

While traveling in northern California during June 2016 I visited Lava Beds National Monument and was offered this booklet. It is produced by the Geologic Resources Division, Cave and Karst Program (www.nature.nps.gov/geology/caves/index.cfm). This is a program which can be completed over a period of time and at multiple park sites. I ended up turning in the boomlet at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age given. The three age groups are: Flashlight, ages 5-7, Lantern, ages 8-11, and Helmet and Headlamp, ages 12 and up.

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To earn this badge you are to complete the number activities equal to your age and in your age category. In total there are nineteen different activities, they are; What ate Caves and Karst?, Be Cave Safe!, How to be a Careful Caver, Name that Cave, Icing on the Cave, Troglofauna Trio, Reveal the Mysteries of The Cave Dwellers, Cave Microbiology, Flying Mammals, Zones of a Cave, Dispelling Batty Myths, Uncover the Mystery of the Bat Killer, Finding Fossils in Caves, Evidence of Ancient Animals, Travel Back in Time with Cave Archeology, Karst is All Around You, Living with Karst, Find a Solution to the Pollution and Caves Need Care.

Some of my favorite activities were learning about Troglofauna Trio, the different animals which live in caves, Bat Anatomy on the Flying Mammals page and labeling fossils found in caves as body or trace. There is a lot of information within the pages of this booklet, most pages include some background information which helps you to complete the activity. You do not need to visit any one park site to earn this badge.

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A Collapsed Cave at Lava Beds National Monument

The ranger at Cumberland Gap NHP was very enthusiastic to review my booklet and award me the unique wooden badge and certificate. I had stamped the booklet with the NPS passport stamps at Lava Beds NM, Mammoth Cave NP and at Cumberland Gap NHP. This was a very educational program which provided me with lots of valuable information about caves; their ecology and geology.

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