There are so many things that I did not know about National Parks before starting these trips, that I think as a public service, I'll go over some of them. This is the stuff that I didn't find in any of the guide books that I scoured from the library or websites that I obsessively looked through. I plan to make a little series of places we have been as a family, as well as tips and what we would do differently or the same. But as an introduction, this is some stuff that shocked me the first couple of times out:
Jr. Ranger Program - this program is the best and we didn't know about it until we had been to 3 National Parks. Almost all National Parks participate and kids can earn a badge for completing a workbook. Most of the workbook is games and puzzles although it does involve a bit of hiking, Ranger Talks, and research. Our 9 year old Dear Daughter loves this program and it is the first thing that she asks about at the first ranger station we visit. The program is free but it is a good idea to donate a couple of dollars to the ranger station at completion. The newly sworn in Jr. Rangers have this very sweet vow to protect the National Parks and the earth that has made me a little misty all 8 times that my daughter has said it. My Dear Son does not often participate because he doesn't like to do any extra work. It is age appropriate for him as well (11 years old) but it is a battle I don't fight.