Dirty Work Reading

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me.”   We had spent three days at a campsite – attending campfire talks, hiking, biking, chimpmunk watching and hanging out.  While my fellow campers mocked me relentlessly, I wasn’t leaving the famed gold rush country of Plumas-Eureka until my children became certified, official Junior Rangers. 

And, do you know what?  It was a sweet and thrilling moment.  My 9YO took the impromptu ceremony seriously – standing tall and wearing a proud grin.   He had made a promise to protect the wildlife and embraced his new stewardship with gusto and earnest.  My 5YO wouldn’t miss out on anything – even if it included fire walking.  She was right there too – collecting pins, stamps and stickers – all the time with her (oops) left hand raised.   She probably also suspected this might be our last family camping trip and she better get in on this “Junior Ranger thing” while the getting is good (smart girl!).

Having recited the Junior Ranger Pledge and receiving a metal pin, the children had Ranger Patty O’Brien stamp their Logbook, which serves as a passport of sorts when visiting any of the 270 California State Parks.  It’s a 20-page activities book that the kids can carry with them to be stamped at all of California’s State Parks, including some unlikely destinations such as Hearst Castle, Vallejo’s Compound, Alcatraz and the State Capital. 

The free log book is the quintessential summer enrichment tool and can be picked up at any California State Park.  The book is filled with information on animal life, ecology, energy, weather, geology, history, recycling and safety.    Each section prompts the kiddo to get out in nature and later, journal their experience in words and drawings. 

With many of the State Parks in jeopardy of closing, I feel especially motivated to show my children these magical places.  This is one book that I will encourage my kids to drag through dirt and fill with pencil marks, sharpies and pens of every sort.  Most importantly, it will be filled with super-cool Ranger stamps that detail our outdoor adventures and funniest family stories.   No doubt, these Junior Ranger Logbooks are destined for the “forever box.”

No rest for the rookie camper.  Up next – Yosemite NATIONAL Park!

For more cool camping picks, visit Mama Manifesto.  Here I detail my favorite items for the rookie camper.

(Travelers note:   If visiting Plumas-Eureka, be sure to catch Ranger O’Brien as Flavious –a1900s Irish immigrant and gold miner.  What a gift to have been able to hear Flavious’ first-hand account of life as a miner under a canopy of pine trees with a roaring campfire.  Plus, he plays a mean mandolin and invites the kids to accompany him on the washboard and spoons!)

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