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Junior rangers have fun, learn

July 06, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - It's been hot and steamy, but Gaela Murphy and her little band of junior park rangers at Greenbrier State Park have been having lots of indoor and outdoor fun during the first of two sessions for youngsters.

A senior at Frostburg State University, Murphy, of Hagerstown, will graduate in December with a major in recreation and parks management. "This is my internship," Murphy said.

The first session was a bit of a disappointment for Murphy because only three children showed up. "I had been expecting about eight more, but they didn't get back to me," Murphy said. "But it was just a little setback."

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Campers Patrick Willock, 8, and Lisa Marie Mowell, 9, and her brother, Jon Luke Mowell, 5, have been working on nature crafts such as door hangers that say "Don't Bug Me," Murphy said.

Scavenger hunts through the park, insect bingo games and Italian ice treats have been part of the program. Campers learn about Operation TLC (tender loving care) and Leave No Trace when they are out in the park.

There are several levels of achievement along the junior ranger trail, and patches and other awards are earned for achieving each level.

Lisa Marie is a veteran junior ranger, having participated in the program each summer since she was 6 years old.

For nearly 20 years, the Maryland Park Service program has offered young people from kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity to explore and experience wildlife, insects, plants, trees, outdoor living and other natural treasures as junior rangers.

There are two, threeweek programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a morning and afternoon session each day. The morning session runs from 10 a.m. to noon for children who are either in the program for the first time or are between the ages 6 and 10. The afternoon sessions are from 2 to 4 p.m. for ages 10 to 14.

The first program started June 21, but isn't meeting this week because of the July Fourth holiday. The second program begins July 26. A campout celebrating the end of both programs will be held Aug. 18.

In addition to learning through games, activities and crafts, the junior rangers will have an opportunity to meet a park ranger and learn about his or her job.

The cost of the junior ranger program at Greenbrier State Park is $15 per child, including workbook sheets and materials. Lunch and snacks will not be provided. Campers should dress for the outdoors and wear sturdy shoes.

Space is limited. Parents may reserve spots in the program for their children by calling Murphy at 301-791-4656.

The program can handle as many as 10 children in a session.

For information about the program, go to dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/jrranger.html.

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