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  • Writer's pictureJanay Neufeld

Educational Camping Activity Your Kids Will Love: Become a Junior Ranger!

I recently planned a staycation and went camping with my niece Ember, nephew Ethan, and three-year-old daughter, Jada, in one of our nearby California State parks. While planning the weekend camping trip, I stumbled upon the Junior Ranger Program. As an educator (online reading tutor/reading interventionist for elementary students), I was very excited about a fun, educational activity for the kids to participate in! Plus, I am always looking for ways to share with my students how to stay connected with reading over the summer! This is a great way to connect with the natural world simultaneously! Isn't that what summer is all about?!

Janay Neufeld of My Online Reading Tutor Shares a photo of her neice, daughter, and nephew on a camping trip. She shares the junior ranger program they had so fun taking part in while at a California State park
Ember, Jada, and Ethan

Come with me as I explain how the program works and how easy it is to do with your child this summer on your next camping vacation. It's one of the many great ways to involve the whole family in good old-fashioned educational fun this summer!

What is the Junior Rangers Program?

The National Park Service allows children (typically ages 5-13, but all ages can participate) to complete a Junior Ranger Adventure Guide. It is a self-guided activity packet full of great activities to keep young children entertained and engaged in educational material throughout your camping trip! They can learn about the park and interact with park rangers. Once they have completed all the activities in the packet, they can take it to a camp host, ranger, or visitors center to receive their official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger Certificate for that park.

Janay Neufeld from My Online Reading Tutor talks about how earning your Junior Ranger badge on your next camping trip can be a fun way to keep your child reading and engaged in learning over the summer!
A young boy working toward his next Junior Ranger Badge. Picture from the National Park Service website for Canyonlands National Park.

It can motivate kids to try and collect as many patches as possible from each park they visit!

My niece is about to enter second grade, so I knew she would be into working through the Junior Ranger activity book! I also printed one for my three-year-old daughter because she likes to do anything her cousin does. She mostly scribbled on hers and pretended to be participating in it. Ember had such a great time filling it out, wandering around the park, and learning how to get outside of her comfort zone a bit to approach the rangers and ask them questions.

Janay Nefueld of My Online Reading Tutor shares that the Junior Ranger Program can be a fun activity to involve your child in while camping. Keep your child reading and learning over the summer!
Ember and Jada hard at work on their Junior Ranger Packets!

What National State Parks Offer the Program?

National Parks all around the United States offer this program to young visitors. You can look for a specific park in the national park system and find out whether they provide the program by clicking here. You can also check your park's website to see what age groups their Ranger Program is intended for. Some parks even offer digital Ranger Park Badges where reading the stories, learning, and exploring can be done from home! Each colorful, fun publication is different, so check out what your park of interest offers.

Here is a list of some of the national treasures that offer the program:

How to Get Your Junior Ranger Booklets

You can download your free junior ranger journals online by visiting the state parks website, visiting the park office, the ranger stations, or the visitor center for the park you are visiting. Also, the National Park Service website has several packets you can print for your child and virtual badges. You can view them by clicking here.

Janay Neufeld of My Online Reading Tutor shares a fun, educational activity to complete while camping. Become a junior Ranger!
Picture from the National Park Service Website. A young girl reading her Death Valley National Park Junior Ranger Adventure Packet

Collect your Junior Ranger Prize

Your child must complete activities in the book and recite the junior ranger motto or junior ranger pledge (each park is a little different, but it's a small vow to help protect the environment/state parks) to collect their junior ranger award. Once they do so, they will qualify for their official junior ranger patch and receive a signed Junior Ranger certificate.

Janay Neufeld shares a fun educational activity to do while camping-junior ranger program for kids!
Picture of a child with Junior Ranger patches! Picture from


Becoming a Junior Ranger is a fun way to keep your child reading and learning over the summer. It's so important to do so to prevent summer slide and keep their minds engaged. Wherever your summer adventures take you, I hope it's fun! The most important thing is to have some fun, quality family time exploring natural resources and different park sites. Allow reading and learning to be fun! Supplement your summer fun with learning, and you will create memories that will last a lifetime!

About the Author

Janay Neufeld is an online reading specialist and confidence coach for kids. Her unique approach can help children worldwide increase their confidence and reading skills with positive mindset training, helping them reach their full potential!

She has ten years of experience helping children feel like skilled, confident readers. She has her multiple-subject teaching credential, Orton Gillingham trained through the Institute for Multisensory Education, and she has a Master of Arts in Education. She is also certified as a life coach for kids through Adventures in Wisdom.

Click the button below to sign up for a FREE Reading Assessment and find out if tutoring might be a great fit for your child!

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