Mammoth Cave National Park
Completed: August 11, 2016
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.