Grandma recently became a Junior Ranger. Yes, Grandma at 67 years of age became an official Junior Ranger at Kings Canyon National Park.
During a Ranger-led campfire program, Grandma and her 9-year-old grand-daughter proudly walked up to receive their Junior Ranger badges.
Some adults attending the campfire program thought that an older person becoming a Junior Ranger was unusual. One woman thought that an adult receiving a Junior Ranger badge “was just wrong.” Her gruff statement gnawed at me for several days. It demonstrated a common perception that Junior Ranger activities are just for kids and that an adult becoming a Junior Ranger is somehow ‘strange’.
So why did Grandma become a Junior Ranger?
Reason one: she wanted to learn more about the park.
Reason two: it was a great way to help the youngest family member learn about the outdoors and share in cross-generation experiences. What can be better than that?
Grandma did have to complete an ‘older’ section of the Junior Ranger activities to earn her badge while her younger counterpart completed another. Both worked together, learned something new, and had fun. In fact, the entire family was involved with the activities, visiting places, and learning about the park.
The park service has done a fantastic job of expanding the definition of Junior Rangers to ‘kids of all ages’ so it can more easily include parents and grand-parents – a move that is welcome and will help many other families to become involved.
Hopefully, in the coming seasons, more parents and grandparents will be joining their children and grand-children at other campfire programs to receive their own Junior Ranger badges.
To my understanding, the oldest Junior Ranger is age 82.