As we have mentioned in other blogs, the America the Beautiful Pass is a fantastic ticket to the best the US has to offer. But maybe not every kid is excited to go outdoors or visit a museum? So here is how you get them excited: Cancelations and badges!
Cancellations: Official & fun ones.
If you plan to go around and see some more parks along the way (or in your lifetime) with the kids, make sure you buy a Junior Ranger … , which is basically the children’s version of the adults Passport. It is a sturdy, colorful book with lots of information in it, but most importantly it has space for: STAMPS. Don’t worry, there is also an adult version of this called the … so the stamping fun does not have to be purely for the kids.
Every single site has stamps to go into the booklet, with different types to be found:
- The official park stamp: Usually with the date of visit in a nice circle with the site’s name on it.
- The Junior Ranger Stamp: Now this one goes into the booklet of the kids as an extra stamp, giving them more stamp fun at the location.
- Fun stamps: There is another page for pictures etcetera, but we decided to use that page for the ‘fun stamps’ they give out at some places. Stamps of animals, buildings, artifacts, anything goes. We have had slugs and lighthouses and cannons so far 😊.
Badges: Next level exploration
Now, truth be told, cancellations are easy, as they are just there for the stamping, no questions asked. But the REAL treat are the Junior Ranger Badges. These don’t come for free… well actually they ARE free, but you have to work for them (preferably your kids). Ask at any location you go to for a Junior Ranger activity, and you will find a range of things; From actual activities to activity booklets to fill out. They are often divided into different age levels as well, making them fun for all kids in the group.
The nice thing about this is that what they get is not just a stamp, it is an actual badge made of a wood type with the name of the site and ‘junior ranger’ on it! Our boys went mad for them, and after having to share one because we only pushed through one booklet, they got very keen on finishing their own activities and both scoring their individual badges. Added bonus; they ACTUALLY LEARN SOMETHING IN THE PROCESS!
Take it all with you…
Now of course the stamp booklet and badges you take with you, find a cool place in the RV for them or take them home. But don’t forget to bring the actual booklets with activities as well. Often there are puzzles or coloring pages they can still do along the way. Or when the come home and want to do a show and tell at school, this is great material to refresh their memories or show in class!
Needless to say we are a fan of the programs and give all rangers and staff members a very big thumbs up for all the work they do and the effort they take to excite the next generation about America the Beautiful!
Extra tip: Once you make it to the National Park site you are visiting, make a bee line for the activity booklet. Even if it is the end of the day (you can often pick them up outside the visitor center from a dispenser outside opening hours), as your kids can get a head start and read up on the park in the evening already. This way you will not feel as rushed to go through the booklet the next day.
Check out our site on more tips for travel with kids and discovering the USA…