First Junior Ranger Badge!

On Thursday we drove to the Science Museum of MN but instead of using our passes to check out cells, dinosaurs and volcano simulators we did something we have never done, we checked out the Mississippi River Visitor Center NPS Jr. Ranger program.

I was really excited about this. I have been waiting for a time when we could do our first Jr. Ranger badges as a family but every time we enter the Science Museum of MN, Tim and the kids bolt toward the exhibits. It is hard to compete with Astronauts, hands on experiments and fantastic live teaching shows where they start things on fire. So… yeah we had yet to do the Jr. Ranger program at Mississippi River Visitor Center even though we have walked by it over a dozen times… because my husband is a geek and he is doing his damnedest to raise little science geeks too.

Seriously… this dinosaur is less than 20 feet from the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Learning about river muscles and their life cycle can’t compete with a dinosaur and a tablet with an app about said dinosaur!

IMG_1694One of the main reasons I wanted Tim with was because I knew the kids wouldn’t be into filling out the booklets. I wanted backup so when one kid was inevitably refusing to even write their name on the booklet, and another kid was asking questions and yet another kid was wandering off touching things they shouldn’t touch, we could tag team and zone defence so things wouldn’t get out of hand. Because that is what parenting is… giving into the fact that until they graduate and move out of the house, you are on defence trying anticipate what their next move will be.

IMG_1667The booklets went about as expected. They were not into it but we pushed through the pain. What kept them going was seeing other kids working on their workbooks too. I have been talking to Jess from Currently Wandering (Instagram @currentlywandering) for the past few months over social media. They are in MN right now so Jess was kind enough to reach out to us and Leesa from Living our Dash (Instagram @livingourdash) and set up this Jr. Ranger get together. In total there were 8 kids all within the same age range working on the booklets. Nothing like positive peer pressure to keep kiddos motivated.

Most of the workbook needed to be filled out inside the visitor center but one page lead us all outside. Once we got outdoors the kids were happy. This is why everyday, all day I am looking for ways to get them outside. Everything is better in the fresh air.

IMG_1684She had that thing pointed right up at the blue sky. The cloudless blue sky. She didn’t care because she was outside.

IMG_1689I brought Lil’ Blue and let the kids snap some photos for a mini Kids’ POV session. Patrick really does love to take photos. Sometimes the photos are of people’s butts, sometimes they aren’t. I was relieved that he wasn’t taking butt photos of our new friends.


Photo Credit: Patrick

Elise really took to Cara, the youngest of the Curren clan. We don’t have a lot of girls Elise’s age in our neighborhood so when she does get to play with a girl her age, she is stoked. Cara was no exception.

IMG_1670They were super cute together.


When Patrick was done taking photos he handed the camera off to Elise. This was the first photo Elise took.


Photo Credit: Elise

Looking at the Mississippi was the last thing the kids had to do in their Jr. Ranger workbooks so after all the kids had eaten their snacks and filled out their workbook we headed back in as a group and the kids got sworn in. I think the Curren kidwere on their 70th or so badge and if I remember correctly the Dykstra boys have done almost 20. They are all pros.

This was our kids first Jr. Ranger Badge. They dragged their feet while filling out the workbook. They really were not into it at all but we powered through with the help of some incentives (read: ice cream bribe) and when it came time to swear in as Jr. Rangers, they held up their hand high and stated the pledge. I was proud of them.


I think the fact that they were with such a fun group of kids helped keep them from having a complete melt down. I hope we get to meet all of these guys again sometime!


After swearing-in they took turns having their workbooks checked and receiving their certificates and badge.



Elise was not happy with her place in the badge receiving line up. Being the smallest is tough.


First Jr. Ranger Badges.


Hopefully, the first of many! Once they got their the badges, they were stoked. They started talking about the next time they can earn a Jr. Ranger Badge. They all agreed they want to do it again!

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