What did kids do on a sunny day 150 years ago, before the invention of the iPod, mp3 player, X-box or cell phone? Children can find out on Saturday, April 26, 2008, at Fort Union National Monument when the National Park Service celebrates Junior Ranger Day. This is in association with National Park Week, specifically “kids in parks” and away from the TV and video games. By celebrating the Junior Ranger program, children are connected to American history and the natural and urban wonders within our parks. The program urges children to explore and protect these resources. This day, proclaimed by President Bush, acknowledges the new and returning Junior Rangers of all ages. All children who participate in the program exemplify the motto “Explore, Learn, Protect” and receive a special certificate and Junior Ranger Day Badge.
At Fort Union National Monument, this exciting day reflects what territorial life was like on a military post in the mid 1800s. There will be a whole day of activities starting when the park opens at 8 a.m., until closing at 4 p.m. For example, did you know that Fort Union soldiers made their own adobe bricks to build the structures at Fort Union? The ruins at Fort Union National Monument are typical territorial style adobe layout with a Greek revival form. With the help of a park ranger, children will get to create their own adobe mix and place the mixture into frames. This activity gives Junior Rangers an idea of what territorial style adobe brick making was all about and familiarizes them with traditional building techniques. Children will have an opportunity to take home a souvenir adobe brick.
Whip tops, dice and card games, jacks, marbles, are among the many games and toys that kept Fort Union children occupied. Ever play Blind Man’s Bluff? Or Dominoes or pick-up sticks? Learn how to play a lively game of “Annie”, or a game of “Graces” which involves a hoop and sticks. All these games will be available to children who visit the Fort. Present Junior Rangers will learn about the kinds of toys and games their grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents played with, as well as the historic origins of these activities.
Fort Union National Monument is located 30 miles north of Las Vegas New Mexico off of I-25 on exit 366 at Watrous on NM Highway 161.
Entrance fees are $3 per person, and children 16 and under are free of charge.
For information contact Fort Union National Monument at 425-8025, or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/foun.