Exploring the NPS Junior Ranger Program at Lewis & Clark NHP

Friday, June 25, 2021

Welcome to my Travel Friday’s B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blog post. Last month, I began my travel blogging with my tour of the United States National Parks© Services (NPS) and their NPS Passport Program. The first week in June, I shared that I have started an educational nonprofit, Global Alternative Learning Systems (GALS), and we are in the process of building an educational platform for teachers, parents, and community members to collaborate, communicate, and cultivate learning opportunities for every human in every community. One of the platforms will be an advanced outdoor education system that will link city, state, and National Parks©  programs for people of all ages. For the month of June, I am sharing what I learned about the National Parks© Junior Ranger Online for kids that can be done while at home, and an interactive Junior Ranger Program at over 400 of the NPS locations.

Brainerd Family at Fort Clatsop

What is the National Parks© Junior Ranger Program?

The NPS Junior Ranger Program is available at each of the different National Parks© Systems, about 420 locations across the USA (including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and & Virgin Islands). Kids can enjoy each park with interactive booklets, guided tours, and special collector’s pins. This is the part I want to expand upon and make the knowledge more available to the public. Especially because the Junior Ranger Program is a fun and FREE way to interact with any park. 

On our way camping!

What Junior Ranger Programs Have We Visited?

For the month of June, each Friday I posted one Junior Ranger experience I have had at different parks with my family and friends all over the USA. The first week in June, I shared my trip to Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, MO. The second week, I shared my experience with visiting Fort Vancouver National Park in Washington state. The third week, I shared my trip to Ulysses S. Grant NHS in St. Louis, MO. This final Friday in June, I am sharing my family trip to an Oregon state park, Fort Sevens, and a national park, Lewis & Clark NHP, located in OR and WA, but we only visited the Oregon part located along the coastline in Astoria, OR. 

Setting up camp

Visiting Fort Stevens State Park & Campground

On June 10, 2021, the kids last day of school, we wanted to celebrate and decided to go camping for the night at Fort Stevens State Park in Hammond, OR, and see Lewis & Clark NHP on our way back home the next day. Our family has been to this campground several times because it is located at the Pacific Ocean beach with an old shipwreck we can see called, Peter Iredale. There are also lots of hiking/biking trails, some old military forts and batteries that are great for exploring for all ages, and a ton of fun for our family. There is a lot to learn from this Fort Stevens State Park Historical Military Site, as well as the shipwreck, and National Park located within the same area.

Hiking to the beach

Hiking to the Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Along with the rich military history of the old forts and batteries, there was the nonmilitary wreck of the Peter Iredale ship on Fort Stevens Beach, October 25, 1906, making it a popular tourist attraction. It was sunny and about 72 degrees with low breeze, so we hiked to the Iredale from our camping spot at Fort Stevens Campground. Along the trails we found some hiking sticks, rolled down the sandy hill at the beach, splashed in the ocean, explored the shipwreck, and watched the sunset. We had such an amazing time. 

Playing in the ocean and exploring the Peter Iredale

Camping at Fort Stevens State Park

Playing at the beach was a great idea to celebrate the last day of school! We hiked back to our campsite and cooked hot dogs for dinner.  For dessert, we roasted chocolate centered marshmallows and smooshed them between graham crackers for some delicious campfire smores. We played some Farkle (or 10,000) until we could barely keep our eyes open. Around 11pm, we headed to our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars, or in our case, tents, cars, and campers because it was forecasted to rain that night, and it did, in true Oregon fashion. 

Brainerd family campfire

Visiting Lewis & Clark NHP

On June 11, 2021, after we packed up camp and left the state park, we headed to Lewis & Clark National Historic Park, located just a few miles away at Fort Clatsop in Astoria, Oregon. Before we left, the kids wanted to explore Battery Russel, an old cement fort used by the National Guard. The kids like to run through it playing tag and scoping out the neat views. The Lewis & Clark NHP is huge and covers both Southern Washington state, and Northern Oregon state. We only visited the Oregon side for this trip. This site is also pet friendly, so we brought our lovely pooch, too! The park ranger told us we came on the perfect rainy day because we would experience it very much the same as the early settlers did when they first arrived to this wet but very lush green portion of the United States. 

3 Lewis & Clark Junior Ranger Booklets & 1 Lewis & Clark Trail Activity Journal

Completing Junior Ranger Booklets

When we got to Fort Clatsop, we went to the Visitor’s Center to pick up our Junior Ranger booklets (you can email them to get a virtual booklet, see link). There were three different colorful paper activity booklets for different ages, we picked one of each because we had three kids all that fit different books. The younger kids booklets had similar activities, were easier to read, and had fewer activities. 

Touring inside Fort Clatsop 1800’s replica buildings

Checking Out Variety of Junior Ranger Programs

As we mentioned, they have booklets to include all ages, and as an adult, I love completing these activities with the kids, too. There was one other booklet they had given us that I have not seen before, was a Junior Ranger Activity Journal to follow along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail or you can follow along as an Online Junior Ranger. This journal was very similar to the booklet activities, but higher quality made with colorful cardstock, and a little bit different pledge (As a Junior Ranger, I promise to show respect for native homelands and historical places, study history from multiple perspectives, and play safely in nature). They even have extended programs like a detailed Virtual Park of Fort Clatsop online (good for homeschool, review of the park, or rainy days), a nature and science program, a cell phone audio tour of the park, and for youth 15+, a Junior Ranger Conservation Corp that pays minimum wage. 

Working on our Junior Ranger booklets

Touring Lewis & Clark NHP

After picking up the booklets, we walked around the museum inside the center trying to find information to complete the booklets. Next, we ventured outdoors to the area that has a replica that resembles life back in the winter of 1805-1806 that Lewis and Clark made at the end of the Oregon Trail in Fort Clatsop. We walked through old rooms and around the outside to see how the pioneers lived back in the day. We also learned about the different Native American tribes who first lived in that area before the settlers arrived. 

We earned our badges and stamps!

Earning Junior Ranger Badges/Stamps & Stating Pledge

While we were at Lewis & Clark NHP, we were able to earn a Junior Ranger badge for that location. When you visit the site or this website, you will find activities for all ages, including an area to plan educational field trips. I got each of the kids their own Classic Passports so they could keep track of the locations they have visited like I do with the passport cancelation stamps in my Collector’s Edition Passport book. There are special Junior Ranger cancellation stamps, too. We completed our booklets and opened the envelopes attached to retrieve our Junior Ranger Badges. We filled out the certificate on the back of the booklets, then recited the Junior Ranger Pledge:

I, Brainerd Family, promise to:

  • Preserve and protect our parks
  • Care for my natural and historical surroundings
  • Share what I have learn about the parks with others
  • Continue to explore these treasures
Lunch at Mo’s Seafood & Chowder, Astoria, OR

Conclusion on Lewis & Clark NHP

We had an amazing time exploring the Lewis & Clark NHP Oregon side, and we still get to plan another trip to see the Washington side of the park. That will be fun to plan since we obviously love to go camping, especially at the beach. This place is great for kids to learn about our nation’s history, play at the beach, hike on nature trails, explore old forts, and participate in a variety of Junior Ranger Programs. After our visit, we stopped at our favorite seafood restaurant in Astoria, called Mo’s, where we colored, looked at the Columbia River view, and had nice warm bowls of clam chowder on a gloomy June day. We hope we have inspired you to check this location or any other of the National Parks© Service Programs.

Thank you for reading and viewing, 

Dr. Jaime Brainerd, Ed.D.

By Dr.Brainerd_B.R.E.A.T.H.S.

Hello, I am Dr. Jaime Brainerd Ed.D., a lifelong learner, beauty consultant, author, financial advisor, artist, traveler, health enthusiast, and self care advocate. Please follow my website for my B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blogs.

4 comments

  1. What a perfect way to celebrate the end of school, having fun but still learning! I have learned so much from your National Park posts and I need to check into the Junior Ranger Program for Lia. We don’t have many parks nearby but I’m sure we can find a few within driving distance. I love learning about history, especially about the past military of our country. Looking forward to finding some parks! Thank you for sharing such fun and valuable information. Hugs and love from Lia and me.

    1. Hi Martha and Lia, thank you for the comments! The NPS has a very handy app that I use for ALL my planning. It was just released early 2021, so they are still working out bugs. With over 400 locations, there is sure to be one near you. In the app or online in the links I provided, you can search by state. Before I used the app, I would use Google Maps and type in National Park near me and they would pop up all over. Sending love, Jaime

  2. This looks like it would have been a really good time. This reminds me a bit of being in the Girl Scouts — learning different things that you might not have ever learned otherwise. This has been a really interesting series

    1. Hi Dominique, thank you for your comments. Yes, it is very much like Girl Scouts, I was one up through High School and even completed Silver & Gold Award Projects (that is where I gained my philanthropy, too)! Our scout troops up here in the Pacific Northwest have a campground we attend each year near Fort Stevens called, Camp Wilkerson. We became very familiar with this area and have grown to be lifelong learners and now teachers of this region. As the Junior Ranger pledge states, we will continue to explore and share these places. I forgot the Girl Scout pledge, lol 😀 Sending love, Jaime

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