Waco Mammoth National Monument – Texas

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Waco Mammoth National Monument
Texas

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

Completed: January 5, 2019

Senior Friendly

Another National Park Service (NPS) site that was open during the January 2019 government shut down was Waco Mammoth National Monument in central Texas. This is another site that is still being managed by the local government and Baylor University, as arranged when it was named a national monument in 2015.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is given as Ages 13 and up. The three age groups are 5-8, 9-12 and 13 and up. Respectively, the required completed activities for the age groups are 5, 7 and 10.

Because this site has their booklet online I was able to print out several pages in advance of my visit and complete them before arriving. This helped to save time while heading home after being on a road trip for almost two weeks. In advance I completed the word search and a crossword puzzle, both had word banks.

While onsite I went on the tour, on a quiet Saturday morning I was the only one on the tour. Ranger Summer was an excellent tour guide, currently a volunteer and college student with plans to become a NPS Ranger. My favorite part of the tour was learning that two boys discovered the first of the Columbian Mammoth bones while exploring the creek bed. Luckily the families took the large bone to Baylor University in 1968. Those boys, now grown men, still live in the area and at times participate in tours. The building covers the massive bone field with some skeletons exposed and fairly complete. The Columbian Mammoth was much larger than the Wooly Mammoth.

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As always I enjoyed the scavenger hunt and interviewing a ranger, both favorite activities of any junior ranger program. Upon completion of the ten activities and review by Ranger Summer I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. What was unique about this ceremony is my hand was placed on Mammoth tooth (replica), how cool! I received their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting their signature Columbian Mammoth.
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https://www.nps.gov/waco/learn/kidsyouth/upload/WACO-Online-Junior-Ranger-Book-508.pdf

Instagram: @Srjrranger

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Vicksburg National Military Park – Mississippi

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Vicksburg National Military Park
Mississippi

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

Completed: January 3, 2019

Senior Friendly

During most of January 2019 a majority of National Park Service sites were closed due to an extended government shut down. We had traveled from Big Bend National Park (SW Texas) to Central Kentucky during this time to visit Camp Nelson National Monument. This site was the newest site for the NPS and commemorated our 400th visit to a NPS site. As a new site it was still being managed by the local government. On our way back home we learned that the City of Vicksburg was providing funds to keep Vicksburg NMP open. Walking into the Visitor Center and seeing rangers in uniform, on duty, was appreciated. Other NPS sites, across the country, were kept ‘open’, but without professional staff which lead to vandalism and unsanitary conditions in the parks.

Back to my visit to complete this Junior Ranger program. This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groups are specified and everyone needs to only complete five activities to receive the badge. Even on this cold, rainy day completing five activities was easy to complete and gave me a good understanding of the importance of this battle during the US Civil War.

As an aside, I have heard about the Battle of Vicksburg all of my life. My great-grandfather fought and was wounded in this battle for the Union, as part of the Kentucky Infantry. He lived with my father when my father was a young boy. Several stories about Vicksburg were handed down and retold over the years. While touring the park I was able to visit the unique memorial, a tribute to both the Union and Confederate from Kentucky. Compared to the other memorials this memorial was erected recently, in 2001, a short walk from the Tour Road. An interesting fact I learned is that Abraham Lincoln and Robert E Lee were both born in Kentucky.

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Besides driving the Tour Road I completed the following activities; Visitor Center Questions, United States in:1861, Artillery Unscramble, Who Were They?, and Medicinal Plants. There are 15 different activities, many which would be enjoyable to complete on a warmer and drier day. The activity I enjoyed the most was “Who Were They?”. I was able to use the details of my great-grandfather’s enlistment to complete their enlistment form. I had received a copy of his enlistment at Camp Nelson National Monument.

The rangers on duty were enthusiastic reviewing this Senior Ranger’s booklet. Upon finishing the review I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger and received their enhanced badge depicting a cannon.

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Instagram: @Srjrranger

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site- Massachusetts

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Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
Massachusetts

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

Completed: July 22, 2018

Senior Friendly

As part of our tour of park sites in the Northeastern states we spent a rainy Sunday afternoon at this site. It was a re-visit, one to which I looked forward. In my travels I have seen many of his beautiful gardens throughout the country. Besides walking through his house you can tour the architecture office upstairs, which I did on a previous visit. On this visit I enjoyed sitting in a comfy chair by a window overlooking the lawn.

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This booklet is set up for five age groups; age 4 and under, ages 5-7, ages 8-10, ages 10-13 and ages 13+. The number of activities is age dependent with only 3 needed for the youngest and all of the activities, 20 for the oldest. The rangers on the day of my visit encouraged me to do as many pages as I could, but did not require all of the activities to be completed. I appreciate this accommodation, as some of the pages are a bit simplistic. As a Senior Ranger I like doing as much as possible, but want the activities to be as meaningful as possible.

The activities include a variety of learning opportunities such as; word unscramble, word search, scavenger hunt, historic photography, matching, design process flowchart, sketch comparison, connect the dots, tracing paper plan, leaf identification, national location research, outside experience, bingo and arrowhead drawing. A great variety of activities kept this program interesting and challenging.

Several activities I really enjoyed was researching an Olmsted-designed project in my state, Arizona. I learned that El Tovar Hotel landscaping at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park was designed by the Olmsted firm. As a side note, most of the landscaping at this location has recently been redone using plants that are native and use less water.

I always enjoy the bingo and scavenger hunt activities, it is a challenge to keep looking for the items. An activity focusing on the Drafting Room showed how plans are developed from a sketch and change along the way.

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The ranger on duty spent time reviewing and discussing my completed work, something I always appreciate. I received the enhanced wooden badge depicting a small branch of leaves.

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Online booklet:
https://www.nps.gov/frla/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Jr-Ranger-Booklet-Frederick-Law-Olmsted-NHS.pdf

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park – Massachusetts

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Massachusetts

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

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: July 21, 2018

Junior Ranger Park Voyage

While visiting New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in July of 2018 for the annual conference of the National Park Travelers Club (parkstamps.org) I completed a fun junior ranger activity. Instead of the standard junior ranger booklet I was offered a one page activity. This park is spread out over many city blocks in the charming, seaside town of New Bedford.


Mural of Frederick Douglass, a resident in the late 1830s

The page had five spaces for stickers from locations around town. This was basically a walking tour of the town. Even though it was July, and could have been hot and humid, it was a delightful 75 degrees.

The sites I visited were;

New Bedford Art Museum – it was open and free. An exhibit featured John Audubon’s work with an emphasis on his time spent in the area.

New Bedford Whaling Museum – an impressive museum which charges an admission. Our meeting was held at the museum and we were given free admission. If you visit this site plan on spending a couple of hours.

New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center – a small storefront with a nice display of fishing related materials, including different buoys. No admission is charged, about 1/2 hour is sufficient to tour the center,

Seamen’s Bethel – a public building which continues to serve as a chapel was built in 1830. During the day while I was in the area a christening and later a wedding was held here. A beautiful garden alongside the chapel was an enjoyable place to enjoy the wonderful weather.

Visitor Center – once I had visited all of the other sites I returned with my sheet to earn the Junior Ranger stamp for the park and their standard Junior Ranger badge. I really enjoyed this activity, simple to complete, but an enjoyable tour of this historic area.

Junior Ranger booklet
https://www.nps.gov/nebe/learn/kidsyouth/upload/New-Bedford-JR-Book-Web-2016.pdf

Cape Cod National Seashore – Massachusetts


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Cape Cod National Seashore
Massachusetts

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

Completed: July 23, 2018

Cape Cod National Seashore is a mixture of national parklands mixed with private land, stretched out along a spit of land that stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean. Driving along the spit there are several visitor centers, as well as beaches and plenty of places to eat and stay.


Activities are divided into two age categories identified with animal icons at the top of each page; Grey seal icon for ages 5 to 7 and Humpback whale for ages 8 to 12. To become a Junior Ranger you are to complete at least five age-related activities, visit one cultural site and attend a ranger-guided activity. If you are not able to attend a ranger program ask for handout titled “Junior Ranger Alternative Activities”.

Even with limited time to work on this I was able to complete more than the minimum number of activities. The activities I completed;
Visit Cultural Site – Highland Light, a lighthouse that has a date of 1857 on the chimney, and is surrounded by a golf course.

Scavenger Hunt – I saw quite a few of the items depicted.

Exploring the Seashore – great graphics of plants and animals of which the words for these items are hidden within a word search.

Lifesaving Crossword – I appreciated the content provided on the first page with a lot of information about shipwreck lifesaving due to the frequent storms in the area. Instead of clues the bold words are matched with the first letter in the crossword grid.

Native Detective – an easy graphic match of animals to their tracks.

Get the Word Out! – design a poster about an important issue unique to Cape Cod NS. My posted depicted a pristine beach scene with a title “What’s Missing?”. The subtitles are; No Pets on the Beach, No Trash and No One on the Sand dunes.

What’s the Weather? – it was a gorgeous July day as we explored the area, partly cloudy and 75 degrees with a light breeze is what I recorded.

Staying in Touch – I wrote a note to my grandchildren comparing and contrasting this beach to a beach where they often visit along the west coast.

History Detective – An easy 3 multiple-choice questions based on archaeology.

Cranberry Harvest – six pictures showing the steps to cranberry harvest are scrambled for you to number in the correct order starting with what happens in January.

Crack the Code – Cape Cod NS was the site of the first message to be transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean to England in 1903. Morse Code was used by Marconi to send the message. A simple message is given to decipher with the provided Morse Code, a fun activity.

Marconi exhibit at park headquarters

I had picked up the booklet as we entered the area at the Salt Pond Visitor Center and worked on it on our drive out to Province Lands Visitor Center. The booklet was reviewed by a volunteer and the enhanced wooden badge was presented.

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

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


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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