Debuting at 20 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park
Just you try to keep up with the jumpin’ Junior Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park! The National Park’s Junior Rangers program has been around since the 1920s, and now the brand new Let’s Move Outside program gives Junior Rangers extra reward for playing and learning outdoors.
The new program is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide campaign to end childhood obesity within the next generation, and it’s kicking off at Grand Canyon National Park and 19 other national parks around the country. Led by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, Let’s Move Outside gives parents tools and information that make it easy for families to enjoy the outdoors and be active and healthy. It’s also a fun way to make sure kids get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
“Young people inspire us; we want to help them be healthy and curious for life. It starts with family fun,” says National Park Service director Jon Jarvis. “We want to help parents learn the skills they need to enjoy the outdoors with their kids.”
Kids who complete at least one physical activity–like hiking with a ranger, body surfing, or canoeing–in pursuit of their Junior Ranger badge will get a special sticker naming them as a Let’s Move Outside Junior Ranger. At Grand Canyon National Park, families can participate in a two-hour Junior Ranger Adventure Hike.
Park superintendent Steve Martin says that not only does the program offer great exercise, but it’s also an incredibly fun way to see and learn about the park and get tips to become a safer, more observant hiker.
The Junior Ranger Adventure Hike meets daily at the Hermits Rest bell on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park promptly at 9 a.m. Plan to spend two hours on the Hermits Trail, which is challenging and recommended for families with children 9 through 14. To make sure you arrive on time, catch the free Hermits Rest shuttle bus by 8 a.m.
On the one- to two-mile hike, families will learn safe hiking techniques and might explore a fossil site and colorful rocks, learn about plants and animals, or create artwork. “The hike is strenuous, so bring water, good hiking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen and enjoy the outdoors!” advises superintendent Martin.
There are plenty more Junior Ranger Programs for kids of all ages on the South and North Rims of Grand Canyon. The free park publication called The Guidelists programs and free shuttle bus information. Pick up a copy at park visitor contact stations and entrance stations, or go online at www.nps.gov/grca.
By the end of summer 2010, the Let’s Move Outside Junior Ranger program will be available at a total of 50 national parks. And children can become Junior Rangers at more than 200 parks across the country. If your family’s summer plans include more national parks adventures, visit www.letsmove.gov/ before you go for updated information about activities and participating parks. With more than 84 million acres to explore in our national parks, there are plenty of opportunities to get moving outdoors this summer and throughout the year.
Here is the full list of parks lanching today:
Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa
Fire Island National Seashore, New York
Fort Dupont Park, Washington, DC
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Minnesota
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
New River Gorge National River, West Virginia
Prince William Forest Park, Virginia
Redwood National and State Parks, California
Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana