As the Interpretive Hosts at Spencer Spit, we’ve been given free rein to create our own programs. Our focus is to teach the kids about nature and the native peoples who were the original visitors to the island. We want them to have fun, but to also take away something that might inspire them. When I was a Brownie, for some unknown reason I learned to fry an egg on an empty coffee can placed upside down over a candle. This information has yet to come in handy in my life.
So we teach about ethnobotany, the native uses of plants, and how to identify local plants. We make plant rubbings and nature journals. We teach how to identify local birds using stuffed birds with realistic calls. We make bird’s nests from materials we gather. We play a raucous game of Bird Bingo, where everyone wins. We read a story about Northwest totems (written by members of various Northwest tribes) and choose and color personal animal totems.
We have many more ideas, but only so much time. And honestly, when noon on Saturday rolls around and we’ve finished cleaning up the crayons, paper, nesting material, stuffed toy birds, and bingo cards, we’re ready for a break.
We generally have between 6 and 18 kids, plus assorted adults. The program attracts a wide range of ages, from 2 ½ to 11, and many parents attend (they’re required to, if their kids are under 8). Some of the parents participate along with their kids—there have been a few adults still coloring their animal totems when their kids have long since finished. The kids are enthusiastic, and amaze us with their ability to soak up knowledge. They’re also hilarious; there’s nothing quite like the way that children view the world.
A part of the program that’s especially endearing is swearing the kids in as Jr. Rangers. They’re eligible when they complete their Jr. Ranger booklet, which involves a variety of activities that they do while they’re at the park. They take their pledge very seriously; looking you right in the eye while they recite: “I promise to be a friend to nature, and to help preserve and protect Washington State Parks so that future Junior Rangers can enjoy them, too.”[portfolio_slideshow]
How cool is this! You guys are having a blast. Makes me wish we could join you there someday. We love the photos, but wish your blogs were a bit longer! And, we too need to know the differences between a Raven and a Crow as we have one or the other around here all the time.
It makes me happy to know that you enjoy reading the posts. It would be fun if you guys could visit us here in your new travel trailer!
I want to be a junior ranger or perhaps a senior ranger.
Hahaha–if you’re good I’ll get you a badge!
Love, love, love it all…
We do, too, Kyle!
How fun! Looks like you guys are having an amazing time. Wanna trade places? ;)
Ummm….NO! But I sure would like to have your ranger expertise to help us with the program. This is so much fun for us; a lot of work, but very rewarding.
Great pictures. It’s sweet to see the kids so clearly getting what you’re offering. Well done! Today we are dreaming of another “rig,” and another adventure… Thanks for sharing yours! xo
Thanks, Kim. We feel like we’re getting as much as we’re giving–it’s so inspiring to work with the kids. Can’t wait to hear about your latest plans!! ;-)
In my 4H days we used the coffee cans with wadded newspaper fires to basically fry marshmallows in bacon grease…doesn’t that just turn your stomach…your junior rangers look so intent and totally into it…bravo for you both in creating and teaching your nature and native ways! Vital for the future…Be Happy!
Wow — marshmallows fried in bacon grease — now there’s a useful culinary skill! Re: the Jr. Rangers — you’re right, the kids are totally into it. They are so attentive and interactive — kids need nature. We all do!