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Become a Civil War junior historian

The National Park Service has designed a special Junior Ranger program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battles of the Civil War.

Union soldiers in blue and Confederate soldiers in gray fought and struggled to shape what we know as the United States of America.  Many of the battlefields and important war locations have been preserved and become special places to visit and remember the past.  This special program is a great way to reinforce what your children may be learning in their schooling and allow them to have a firsthand look and feel into war life.  Many of these sites have excellent museums, movies and displays of war memorabilia.

“Explore, Learn, and Protect” is the Junior Ranger motto and your children will be able to recite this and understand it after completing their Junior Ranger acetates.  The Junior Ranger programs are typically geared for kids ages 6 to 12, but any age can participate and the activities are typically modified for the different age groups.

This special Civil War Junior Historian badge can be earned in addition to the badges kids can earn by visiting individual badges and completing the Junior Ranger activities.  If you are ready to get started, find out what you need to do by visiting www.nps.gov/stri/learn/kidsyouth/jcwh.htm.

There are a few simple steps Junior Historians will need to follow to earn a patch:

Step 1 –The child will need to visit at least two of the participating parks which are listed below.  Ask the park ranger for the Junior Ranger book for that park.  Once completed, turn in the book, take a pledge and receive a badge for that park.  The ranger will then give the child a bookmark which will help them keep track of the Civil War parks.  After the park ranger initials and date it, the child must tuck it in a safe place until the next park visit.

Step 2 — The second part can be completed one of two ways.  The child can either visit one more participating parks (for a total three) or he or she can complete the Junior Ranger Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.  The program can be completed online and discussed with the Ranger at the child’s second park.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/stri/learn/kidsyouth/jcwhparks.htm.

After completing a worksheet, Junior Rangers must take an oath to receive their patch or badge.
After completing a worksheet, Junior Rangers must take an oath to receive their patch or badge.

Here is a list of participating Civil War Junior Historian Parks:

  • Andersonville National Historic Site
  • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
  • Appomattox Couthouse National Historical Park
  • Arkansas Post National Memorial
  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  • Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
  • Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
  • Fort Donelson National Battlefield
  • Fort McHenry National Monument
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Fort Sumter National Monument
  • Fort Union National Monument
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
  • Natchez Historical Park
  • Ocmulgee National Monument
  • Pea Ridge National Military Park
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  • Shiloh National Military Park
  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • Vicksburg National Military Park
  • Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

In our opinion, there is nothing better than hands-on learning.  The feeling one has when standing on the actual hills from which soldiers looked out upon and defended their land is not one you can gain from a textbook.

The Park Service does an excellent job with reenactments, so be sure to look out for special events this summer.  We were treated to a civil war reenactment at Kennesaw Mountain when we visited and we were blown away (pun intended).  We learned about the team of soldiers it took to load, aim and fire a cannon and learned about war strategy and heartache.  The conditions were horrible and supplies were scarce.

As they are today, the soldiers of the Civil War are true heroes and should be remembered by all.

To learn more about he National Park Service and the Civil War visit www.nps.gov/civilwar/civilwar150.htm

About Jen Holt

Jen Holt and her husband Drew are parents to two young kids and travel the country in their fifth wheel nicknamed Big Moosey. The Holts have a passion for the outdoors and love visiting National Parks. You can follow more about the Holts adventures at www.free2breathe.com

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