Every Thursday between July and August, YMCA campers would come to the Boom site just outside of downtown Stillwater in MN. They would come strolling off the bus, ready for the next adventure of the Jr Ranger Camp program. I highly encourage you to check out Play Learn Serve Work in the Upper Midwest for details on what the program is all about.
A typical outline of the morning includes introductions, getting to know the Park, receiving instructions on the activity for the day, getting on the pontoon and beginning the FUN! Then we end the adventure with swearing in new Jr Rangers and sending everyone home with a smile and new badge.
The activity chosen for the day was determined by group size. When the group was large, riverway clean-ups were conducted. The Park Rangers and I divvied up the campers and led multiple shoreline clean ups along the WI side of the St Croix River and on the Stillwater Islands.
When the group was small, we taught the kids about pictographs and petroglyphs by going on a hike to see Native American rock carvings. Both activities included additional discussions about the Riverway and the importance of
keeping it protected and clean.
Our most popular topic of conversation was the mussels lying along the shoreline. The Park Rangers and I would talk about how mussels have a big, positive impact on the quality of the river and therefore are illegal to take home. This discussion would then led into attempts to “save the river” by skipping the shells across the water’s surface. Afterward, we would play games and have lunch. Before the buses came to bring everyone back to camp, the kids would demonstrate their new found knowledge of the River to be sworn in as official Junior Rangers.