Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument – New Mexico

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Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
New Mexico

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

Completed: May 6, 2017

Senior Ranger

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/sapu/planyourvisit/upload/Senior-Ranger-Program-1.doc

During our Spring trip through central New Mexico I wanted to visit all three of the pueblos of Salinas Pueblo Missions NM to earn their Junior Ranger badge. I had printed a copy of their booklet before leaving home to make sure I had it when I started my visit, in case one of the visitor centers was closed. Our first stop was at Gran Quivira where I completed the Junior Ranger portion for that site. After visiting there we stopped at the park headquarters in Mountainair for their passport stamps. While talking to the staff and explaining that I was working on the Junior Ranger booklet I was handed their Senior Ranger Program booklet!

The three missions are miles apart and each site is distinct, well worth visiting each site. Salinas means salt and the missions are part of the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway. The sites promote the history of the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan and Jumano groups, to the 17th century Spanish Franciscan missionaries, and the returning settlers of the 1800s.

The booklet is easy to complete, whether visiting one of the three sites, or all of them. As we had planned to visit all three on this trip, and I was also working on the Junior Ranger booklet, it was easy to complete both programs.

The activities are; Compare Historical Photos of Abo, Quarai and Gran Quivira, Plant & Tree Identification, Wildlife Found at Salinas Pueblo Missions, Pictographs & Petroglyphs, Four Churches at Salinas Pueblo Missions, National Park Service Word Search, and Salinas Pueblo Missions Word Search.
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Completing this program is very easy, the booklet states that you only need to complete one exercise at one of the three sites to earn their attractive park pin. While at Quivira we sat outside the visitor center and completed five of the activities. The wildlife page had photos take by game cameras of an owl, jackrabbit, rattlesnake, elk and coyotes. A series of questions were asked about which animal you would like to see while visiting and how you should deal with wildlife, if seen.

For Pictographs and Petroglyphs you draw an event in your life which can be represented by symbols. I had fun creating a series of symbols depicting my retirement from teaching and traveling.

Once we finished a ranger reviewed our booklets, and we had some good discussion about the activities. I always appreciated when park staff can spend extra time looking over my completed booklets. For their Senior Rangers they award their attractive park pin. I always try to leave a donation when completing either Junior or Senior Ranger programs, but I especially make sure I remember when they provide an extra special award.
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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – Colorado

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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Colorado

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

Completed: July 17, 2017

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/flfo/learn/kidsyouth/upload/ffb_junior_ranger-pc.pdf

Less than an hour from Colorado Springs, along US 24, you will see amazing fossils in a beautiful setting. I love visiting this site and for the first time completed their Junior Ranger program during this last visit. Their collection of plant and animal fossils is amazing, both inside and outside. The hiking trails range from very short to longer through pine forests and open meadows at 8,100 feet elevation. During the summer, afternoon mountain thunderstorms will move in and the trails are closed for your safety.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is not set. The groupings and number of activities to complete are; 4-7 years – 3 pages, 8-10 years – 5 pages and 11 years and older – 7 pages. With 13 different activities, at a variety of skill levels, there are plenty of activities of interest for all of the age groups.

Activities include; Dot to Dot, Map Maker, BINGO!, Leaf Detective, Learning the Layers, Fly Maze, Email Friends, Be a Paleontologist, Influential Women, From the Ute Perspective, Take A Hike, No Ordinary Homesteader, and Pick Your Next Adventure!

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I enjoyed their BINGO format, 16 squares, with a short description of what to look for and space to draw what you saw, answer a question about the item or complete an activity. Questions were about the color of lichen, bark, type of fossil, and an animal home. Activities were hiking, attending a ranger program, having a picnic and visiting a historic site. Leaf Detective had you sketching a modern leaf and a fossil leaf from their collection in the visitor center and answering some questions about each one.

A couple of the activities, Learning the Layers and Be A Paleontologist, were based on displays in the visitor center. The display area is small, but packed with excellent information. Sometimes too much information is given and it is hard to stay focused, these displays are just right! A word search activity, Influential Women, provided great information about local women, as well as professional female paleontologists who strongly influenced this area. I appreciated that facts about the women were given and key words from the facts were used in the word search.

Behind the visitor center is a covered area with big fossilized tree stumps and picnic tables. After completing the hike and gathering information needed for his booklet I enjoyed sitting outside to put the finishing touches on this program. Once I did compete the booklet I took it back inside for a ranger to check it over. After that I was administered their Junior Ranger pledge and given the standard badge.

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Rainbow Bridge National Monument – Utah

 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Utah

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

Completed: May 18, 2016

Senior Friendly

*Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/rabr/learn/kidsyouth/upload/RABRJrRanger-2.pdf

In 2014 I visited Rainbow Bridge NM by boat. The ride up Lake Powell to the mouth of the canyon was enjoyable, it was late May and being on the water made it comfortable on a hot day. Once the boat turned into the canyon it felt like a maze of water and rock walls, at the dock it opens up a bit, but the natural bridge remained hidden. From the boat dock you hike to the bridge, currently about 1 mile, each way. In a short distance you can see the bridge, no pictures can describe the grandeur of this natural geologic feature. A hike of 16 -18 miles one way, across the Navajo Nation (permit required), is the only other way to reach the bridge. The boat tour begins at Wahweap Marina, a short distance from the Glen Canyon Dam and Page, AZ.

Prior to visiting Glen Canyon NRA in 2016, when I downloaded and printed their Junior Ranger booklet, I discovered that the last few pages included the program for Rainbow Bridge NM. While writing this post I discovered that the link listed above is a different booklet. It appears to be relatively simple, as the booklet I completed, but the activities are different. For either booklet you can complete the Junior Ranger program without visiting the bridge, however if you aren’t able to visit during your visit I hope in the future you can see this beautiful natural bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge program I completed, at the back of the Glen Canyon NRA booklet, has no age groupings and at least 2 activities are to be completed. The booklet linked above does have age groupings and someone 12 or older is to complete all five activities. Both booklet requirements allow this program to be considered Senior Friendly.

The activities in the booklet I completed are; Forming Rainbow Bridge, Rainbow Bridge National Monument (4 questions), and Rainbow Bridge Sign Scramble. Matching a description to four small pictures helps you understand how natural bridges are formed. The answers to the four questions in the activity titled Rainbow Bridge National Monument can be learned from a park ranger, tour guide or park brochure (available online). I enjoyed the Sign Scramble, it provided a fun way to learn more about the bridge.

Once I completed the booklet I took it to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam, unfortunately the park rangers were in a training session, but the tour staff for the dam gave me the Junior Ranger badge. The bridge is featured on this enhanced badge.

*The booklet provided from this link is different from the one described in this post.

 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Arizona & Utah

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Hanging Gardens

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Arizona & Utah

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

Completed: May 17, 2016

Senior Friendly

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/kidsyouth/upload/GLCA-Jr-Ranger-2013.pdf

Most of us know Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as Lake Powell, straddling Arizona and Utah. Over the years I have visited many the of sites within their 1.25 million acres, but this is the first time I worked on the Junior Ranger Program. It was a great way to understand the diversity of the park. Besides having lots of water, there are also locations which feature wildlife, history, paleontology and archaeology.

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Lees Ferry

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. Three ages groupings with a minimum number of activities for each range is provided. The groupings are; ages 6 to 8 complete 3 activities, ages 9 to 11 complete 5 activities and ages 12 and up complete 7 activities.

Glen Canyon NRA activities include; The Best Way to Care for the Land, From Fast Swimming to Fossilized, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – in the 1800s, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – Today, Who Needs Water, Take an Artistic Break, The Amaze-ing Colorado River Watershed, One Glen Canyon, Many Voices, Desert Dwellers, Power and the River, Ancient Ones if Glen Canyon, Experience Your America! and Junior Ranger Participation Log.

In the middle of the booklet is the Junior Ranger Participation Log, something I have not seen very often in booklet, but a good idea to keep track of the different activities completed. My log included camping at Hite where we say Great Blue Herons roosting on the cliff across the river. Another activity was hiking through the Lees Ferry Historic District. I sketched the old boiler I saw for Take an Artistic Break activity. This is a great place to see birds and lizards.

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Desert Spiny Lizard

One Glen Canyon, Many Voices has you match 9 pictures of people you could find within the recreation area; boaters, dam workers, Native Americans, ranchers and park rangers are a few examples. The 9 different Desert Dwellers, a bingo-style activity, presents different adaptations that plants and animals use to thrive in this environment. As you see something that matches that adaptation you are to draw that plant or animal. For Big Ears I saw a Black-tailed Jackrabbit and drew the ears, for Thermoregulation I saw several lizards and did a quick sketch of a lizard.

A number of the activities were simple enough that the the younger age groups will be able to easily complete their minimum requirement. Overall the booklet had a good diversity of activities to help you appreciate this very large park site. I took the completed booklet to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Dam to be reviewed. The day I was there the park staff was at training, so the tour staff for the dam gave me my Junior Ranger badge. No review or pledge, this time.

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Pipe Spring National Monument – Arizona

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Winsor Castle

Pipe Spring National Monument
Arizona

https://www.nps.gov/pisp/index.htm

Completed: June 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/pisp/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior-Ranger2016-web.docx

Almost in my backyard, at least in Arizona, but 475 miles northwest and in an entirely different ecosystem. The ecological diversity of Arizona is what I enjoy the most about living here. The distance might be a reason why this took so long for me to complete. I have visited this site numerous times over the years and always enjoy the wildlife seen while touring the grounds and Winsor Castle. The building was completed by Europeans settlers in the 1800s, but the land was home to the Kaibab Paiute tribe long before their arrival.

Note: I didn’t realize that I had previously completed this program and wrote a post last year. The 2016 Centennial Year was a busy year for me!

This program is Senior Friendly as no age groupings are provided and the staff just expect anyone to complete at least five activities during their visit This allows you to complete the booklet without attending the tour of Winsor Castle, in case your travel plans don’t match with tour times.

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Plateau Fence Lizard

Activities include; Pipe Spring Scavenger Hunt (bingo format), Explore the Museum, Animal Tracks, Outside Tour, 1873 Supplies, Fort Tour, Match Present to Past, and Learning Paiute!

The Scavenger Hunt has 12 pictures of items, plants or animals you can see while exploring the monument. Lizards, ravens, and cottontail rabbits are plentiful in this environment and easy to mark off while exploring. I enjoyed the Explore the Museum because besides finding answers in the displays there were questions after each section which relate to your own experience. This allows you to think about the information and apply it based on your own experience. The displays also provide a good overview of the history; from the early Native American period through Mormon habitation and to today’s Paiutes living here.

With some careful observation I was able to find lizard tracks in the dirt alongside the paced path behind the Visitor Center. Again the Outside Tour had you find information, but also asked questions for you to think about and answer. Visiting the pens of livestock, especially seeing the longhorn cattle was fun. The Fort Tour was led by a ranger and was excellent. Besides getting inside Winsor Castle, the items on display give you a good idea of what it would have been to live here in the 1850s when the Mormon’s used this to supply themselves and others of their faith. Thanks to the springs there was readily available water, but this harsh environment on the Arizona Strip would have made daily life difficult.

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Say’s Phoebe

Before the Europeans arrived in the 1800s the Kaibab Paiute tribe had lived here for centuries. I appreciated the page which had you try to learn Paiute words, eventually having you write your own phrase with the words provided. The monument is currently surrounded by Kaibab-Paiute tribal lands. The nearby campground is administered by the tribe.

Once I completed the booklet I was sworn in by the staff at the entrance desk and given their enhanced Junior Ranger Badge which features the Winsor Castle.

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Bighorn Canyon NRA – Wyoming & Montana

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Montana & Wyoming

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

Completed: June 20, 2016

Copy for download;
https://www.nps.gov/bica/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Jrranger%20booklet%20for%20web.pdf

This recreation area spans two states, Wyoming and Montana. The Bighorn River is dammed at the northern end, in Montana, to form a large reservoir. I have camped at both ends, in Wyoming and Montana, most recently in Montana twice in the past year. During this last visit I picked up the Junior Ranger Booklet and was able to complete it during my visit.

This program is not rated as Senior Friendly as the booklet lists two age groups; ages 6-9 and ages 10-12. However, the staff willingly provided the booklet to this senior. Ages 6-9 are to complete four pages with ages 10-12 completing five of seven pages.

The activities in the booklet include; Yellowtail Dam, A Scavenger Hunt, Historic Sites, Bighorn Canyon Word Search, Bighorn Canyon Bingo, The Bighorn River Maze and the final page is journal to record your activities.

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Cedar Waxwing

I enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt which is based on information in the park brochure, as well as your observations. The bingo activity included a short description of each item on the page, this provided additional information of the item seen while touring the park. The last page as a journal where I recorded what I saw and heard while at the park, as well as sharing what I enjoyed most during my visit. For me, identifying a new bird, Eastern Kingbird, was the most enjoyable.

I returned to the visitor center at the Yellowtail Dam and an intern reviewed my booklet and administered the pledge. I enjoy meeting the interns that provide important staffing for so many of the parks.
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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Arizona

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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/index/sucr

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 1, 2014

Online:
https://www.nps.gov/sucr/planyourvisit/upload/SUCR%20JR%20Workbook3.pdf

As a national monument, almost in my background, this is a site I have visited numerous times over the years. A very favorite campground, Bonito, is across the road from the visitor center. I have actually completed this Junior Ranger program twice, March 2013 and August 2014. The first time I completed with my two grandchildren and then on my own. And as I have stated before I learned and experienced something new.

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This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groupings are given, just the direction to complete five or more pages. There are six pages in the booklet. A nice feature of this program is you may turn in your completed packet at either the Sunset Crater Volcano or Wupatki visitor centers. There is a beautiful drive between the two sites which allows you to continue on your trip without returning to the visitor center.

The activities are; Monitoring Our Living Earth, The Great Earth Puzzle, A Place of Cultural Importance, Legend Has It, Excellent Eruptions, Lookin’ at the Lava, Making a Difference, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words and Sunset Search.

The answers for the first several activities are found in the visitor center displays. A monitor shows current earthquake activity, on my two visits I located recent earthquakes in Alaska, California, and the Tonga Islands.

While walking along the Lava Flow Trail through the Bonito Lava Flow I was able to locate five of the seven features; Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Mountain, Aa lava, Xenolith and a Squeeze-up.

One of my favorite activities when completing Junior Ranger programs is interviewing a park ranger. Ranger Robert told me he had a degree in Field Biology and his favorite place in the park is the O’Leary Trail because it provides a nice overview of the park. On my second visit in March 2014 I combined the last two activities into one by drawing Sunset Search finds.
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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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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – Kentucky, Tennessee & Virginia

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

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 13, 2016

https://www.nps.gov/cuga/learn/kidsyouth/upload/junior%20ranger%20activity%20book.pdf

This year while criss-crossing the country collecting the NPS Centennial stamps I was fortunate to be able to re-visit Cumberland Gap. This is a special park site, as my ancestors moved through the Gap to settle in Kentucky and Tennessee. Visiting in August was not ideal, it was a hot and humid day. The activities for this Junior Ranger program could be completed without too much discomfort.

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All ages can complete this program, earning it a Senior Friendly designation. The instructions just indicate to complete as many activities as you can in the booklet. The activities include; National Parks Near You!, Groovy Movie Trivia, Visitor Center Exhibit Crossword Puzzle, Pioneer Playhouse, Wildflower Tic Tac Toe, Dr. Thomas Walker Word Search, Pioneer Journal, Visions of Cumberland Gap, Operation Overlook, Beat Brush Mountain!, Settlement Spelling Bee, Cave Creations, Bats Like Us!, A Balanced Bear Diet, Wanted! Exotic Invaders, Ranger Reporter, Mountain Melodies, Art Splash, and Cumberland Gap Greetings!

Wow – lots of choices and most easy to complete during an afternoon’s visit. I appreciated the variety of activities and the information that many of the pages provided about this park. The movies in the visitor center gave information about Daniel Boone’s role in westward expansion and the geographical uniqueness of the Cumberland Gap. The crossword puzzle’s answers could be found by exploring the exhibits in the visitor center; another summer-friendly activity.

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Writing about my ancestor’s experience in the Visions of Cumberland Gap gave me a direction connection to this park. Cave Creations reinforced what I have learned at other National Park sites with caves. An anatomy lesson of a bat allowed comparison between humans and bats, both mammals. One my favorite activities at any park is interviewing a park ranger. The ranger, Sharon, shared her background and favorite part of her job. She told me that in April 2016, on one day, 2,500 Junior Rangers were awarded – amazing!

After reviewing my completed booklet I received two Junior Rangers badges, the traditional badge and the special one awarded in April.

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Lava Beds National Monument – California

imageLava Beds National Monument
California

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

Completed: May 29, 2016

Senior Friendly

At the northern edge of California is a desolate landscape which offers great opportunity to explore caves, at least twenty. The views across the lava beds are stunning. This is a favorite national monument which I enjoy visiting and was pleased to have time to complete their Junior Ranger program.

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This is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age limit is listed as Ages 12 and older, as well as two age groupings of 5-7 and 8-11. The groupings are titled; from youngest to oldest, Blue Bird, Sagebrush Mariposa Lily and Modoc. Besides completing the age-appropriate and required activities attending a Ranger-guided program or view the park video to earn this badge.

Activities include; Cave Safety, Cave Softly, Leave No Trace, It’s a Wild, Wild Life, Modoc Culture, Formations of Mushpot, As the Lava Flows, Goin’ Batty with Ben, Drawings in the Rocks, If Rocks Could Tell Stories…, National Park Service Mission, Camp Lava Beds, Protecting Our House, What is Wilderness?, and Lava Beds Maze.

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There are 4 activities required for all ages and 4 Modoc pages. The National Park Service Mission page was a good way to explore the mission statement, it included correcting an incorrect statement by selecting a better word and to have you write what the Mission statement means to you. The most challenging activity was the Camp Lava Beds which has you spend the $25 a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) family member sent back home for a family to live on in 1935. Even at 1935 prices $25 did not go very far.

Protecting Our House and What is Wilderness? were both two page spreads that used maps to identify the main ecosystems and wildernesses in the park, as well as a place to write up your experience while in a portion of a wilderness within the park boundaries. I walked out a sort distance on the Whitney Butte Trail.

Once done I brought the completed booklet to the visitor center a ranger reviewed the booklet and discussed my answers. The ranger filled in the certificate, then had me recite the Junior Ranger pledge before giving me the badge. This was a program that was well-designed for older kids and this Senior.

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