Becoming a National Park Service Junior Ranger

One of the great programs that the National Park Service provides is the Junior Ranger Program.

The Junior Ranger motto is...

"Explore, Learn and Protect!"

The NPS Junior Ranger Program is:

"An activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national.  Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service "family" as Junior Rangers.  Interested youth complete a serious of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.  Junior Rangers are between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate." 

[United States. National Park Service. "Junior Rangers | National Park Service." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <>.]

We had the opportunity to visit John Muir National Historic Site, which was John Muir's home in Martinez, California in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early 1900's.  We had a lovely family picnic on the grounds just as I imagined John Muir and his family did many times!

While visiting the Visitor Center, we were pleased to find out that our son was finally old enough to participate in the Junior Ranger program so we acquired the Junior Ranger booklet and began the program.

After completing a serious of booklet activities which included:

Answering questions

Scavenger Hunt in John Muir's home

Detective Time


Observing a Tree

Investigating Reporting

We were able to proceed with our son's "Junior Ranger Pledge" with NPS Ranger Jim! [Video]

My son was so happy he was finally a Junior Ranger that after he got his badge, we headed for a hike on Mount Wanda, which was named after one of John Muir's daughter!

Chasqui Mom, Junior Ranger David and NPS Ranger Jim

Hiking on Nature Trail on Mount Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site

It's very special to my husband and I, that my son was able to become a Junior Ranger at John Muir's home and then we were able to hike on the same trails that John Muir hiked with his children.  It was a very fitting for the occasion!

Thank you National Park Service and Ranger Jim, from the bottom of our hearts!

Related Post and Links:

  1. Backpacker Magazine: Oakland, CA: Mt. Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site

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The Simplicity of the "Manta"

Back in 2009, when I was roaming the streets of Cuzco I asked an Andean woman where I could get a carrier like the one she had. She smiled at me and said, "It's the one you use on your table!"  We laughed, told her I already had one and thanked her.  

My Peruvian tablecloth is definitely a staple in my outdoor gear which was given to me by my "Tia" (Aunt) when they immigrated to the United States.

On a cold, almost summer day, my family and I volunteered for a Clean Up Day at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.  Unfortunately I had forgotten one of the THREE kid carriers I own, so I improvised and used my Peruvian Blanket, tablecloth, "manta" as one of it's intended purposes: to carry my child.  

My daughter happily climbed into her "Peru Blankie" and was happy as can be. &nbsp;

My daughter happily climbed into her "Peru Blankie" and was happy as can be.  

As a blogger many companies reach out to me to test their newest and coolest gear and I'm happy to accept.  Many times parents think we NEED the best and right gear before heading outdoors with our children or else we can't go...but I think back to my ancestors who never have a external frame kid carrier, fancy boots or wicking clothes and they carried their little ones in their "mantas" all up and down the Peruvian Andean Mountains.

So here's to all the mothers who for thousands of years have carried their babies in their "mantas" just like mine.  Thanks for reminding me of simplicity.

Do you have any cultural pieces that you use for the outdoors?

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Defeat, Not Something I Like

I'm a very goal oriented person.  If I have a goal, I'm the most motivated person in the world to complete my task.  If I do not achieve my goal I feel like I was defeated by something, someone or myself.  I will not be able to complete my 2012 Trails Challenge by December 1st, which is this Saturday.  My last day available to complete it was today, but due to my children being sick, a hectic weekend, the rain coming in tomorrow, and upcoming travel I will not be able to complete the challenge. Only 3.5 miles short, it drives me crazy.

Only one other time was I "defeated" while hiking, during my 2007 Inca Trail Peru Trip. I caught the travelers bug right before we started on our five day hike to Machu Picchu. I couldn't keep real food down so the guides made me smell some special liquid, drink some special soup, and another hiker gave me some anti-nausea pills. The following day I felt fine but as anyone who knows who has hiked 10 hours before, food = fuel = energy to hike. I had no energy to hike up a 14,000 ft Salkantay Nevada. My brain said "keep on moving" but my feet just dragged. I was so slow that they had to put me on a mule. I wanted to cry, I wanted to hike that mountain and to this day I still do.

I'm smiling but I'm not happy.

It's not the same kind of defeat, and in all reality it's not really a defeat because I will still finish the Trails Challenge just after the deadline of December 1st. It really pushed us to hike consistently like we've been wanting too and it has exposed us to different East Bay Parks.

Next year I will complete the 2013 Trails Challenge with time to spare just like some day I will go back to Peru and kick Salkantay's butt!

Here are some pictures from each hike of the 2012 Trails Challenge that we did complete:

Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park - Hayward/Union City, CA.  My son David....

Mission Peak Regional Park - Fremont, CA

Dublin Hills Regional Park - Dublin, CA

Hayward Regional Shoreline - Hayward, CA

Have you ever felt defeated in a backpacking trip, day hike, race, outdoor competition or goals you have set for yourself? How did you overcome your "defeat"?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Related Posts and Links

  1. The Savage Mountain Nevado Salkantay
  2. Three Days in One: Salkantay to Andenes Camp