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

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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

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.

Hawai`i Island National Parks – Hawai`i


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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

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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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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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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Montezuma Castle National Monument – Arizona

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Montezuma Castle National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/moca

Completed: October 7, 2015

Senior Friendly

Online booklet
http://www.nps.gov/moca/learn/kidsyouth/upload/MOCA-6-Up-Web.pdf

Montezuma Castle National Monument includes two locations; the ruins, known as the castle, and a well, a few miles north. The castle is actually a set of ruins built by the Sinagua around 1400 CE (current era), it contained 45-50 rooms. This site was the first place to be named a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The well has ruins built into the walls of a sinkhole and a walking trail that connects to the year-round Beaver Creek. Over the years Montezuma Well has always been a favorite place to visit. It is not as popular as Montezuma Castle, but well worth a visit.

This Junior Ranger Activity Guide includes pages for both the castle and the well. It is considered Senior Friendly as there are three age groups; turtle symbol for 6-7 years old, sycamore leaf symbol for 8-9 years old, and macaw symbol for 10 years or older.

This booklet allows you to complete activities towards becoming a Junior Ranger at Montezuma Castle or Montezuma Well or both sites. The age symbols indicate which activities each group should complete. The activities include; Explore the Museum, Where would you build?, Getting Around, Knowing your Neighbors, Living at theWell, That’s a lot of water!, Nowhere Else on Earth, Surface Water: Swallet, Outlet, & Ditch, Sit, Look & Listen, Poetry Corner, and Share with a Park Ranger. . .
Montezuma Well
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The museum at the Visitor Center had the answers for the crossword puzzle titled Explore the Museum. I learned about the different Native American tribes that called this area home. I appreciated the information provided about using current terminology to identify timekeeping by archeologists. CE, Common Era, is now used in place of A.D. and BCE, Before Common Era, in place of B.C.

Math skills were needed to complete the Getting Around page, this activity had you calculate how long it would take you to walk to Phoenix from the Verde Valley. Based on my calculations it would take me at least 12 days to walk the 125 miles.

Once at Montezuma Well the activity Living at the Well has you collect dates at the different kinds of homes lived in over the years, then calculate how old is the oldest house at the well, almost 1000 years. Nowhere Else on Earth has you identify the unique plants and animals, in this case very small specimens.

For the Poetry Corner I wrote a cinquain-style poem about the well.
Well
Deep, Living
Breathe, Evaporate, Cool
Relaxing place to be
Sinkhole
Booklet & badges
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Before leaving the Montezuma Well I had the ranger on site review what I had done, he then presented me with a colorful button as their Junior Ranger badge. Back at Montezuma Castle the booklet was reviewed and the standard badge was presented. The inside back cover of the activity guide contains the Certificate of Achievement.
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