Becoming a Junior Ranger on #OptOutside Day

How did you spend Black Friday? Did you #OptOutside and spend it outside?

At the clocktower
At the clocktower

Yesterday, I took my two granddaughters to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We hiked the Sugarlands Trail with Logan, a Student Conservation Association intern.

About twelve visitors started at Sugarlands Visitor Center and walked about five miles to the Sugarlands Cemetery and back.

On the way, we stopped at the remains of Camp Morgan, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. There Logan explained that the structure that I’ve passed so many times was a clocktower. She showed us the flag pole in the center of a stone circle. The end point was an “open” cemetery where descendants can still be buried. See the photo above.

Isa becoming a Junior Ranger
Isa becoming a Junior Ranger

The main goal of the trip was to make Isa, seven years old, a Junior Ranger. She took it very seriously and so did Ranger Dana Soehn, the Public Affairs officer of the Smokies. She’s called “the voice of the mountains”.

Dana asked Isa several questions about the CCC and the cemetery.

Then she swore in Isa as a Junior Ranger. Isa swore or affirmed that she would take care of the resources and not drop trash – of course, she wouldn’t.

Hannah had become a Junior Ranger several years ago. She just “helped” Isa and me in the process. This is Isa’s first Junior Ranger experience; Hannah has gotten badges from several parks. As the end, before we said goodbye to Ranger Dana, I got her with the two girls.

It’s important to me that the kids talk to national park rangers in their native habitat. Thanks Dana!

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