Learn, play in the Smokies

Jay FitzOur Town Outdoors

Great Smoky Mountains Association has published the Junior Ranger Activity Guide, an interactive guidebook of fun activities designed to introduce kids of all ages to the Smokies.

The 38-page booklet encourages kids to look, listen, map, seek, observe, dance, play and share during their visit and serves as the official guide to the Junior Ranger program at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After completing at least five activities and five experiences outlined in the guide (with help from a parent or guardian), kids can be officially sworn in as Junior Rangers at any park visitor center.

“Junior Ranger books are a great way for visitors of all ages to learn about a park,” said Jeanine Ferrence, ranger. “We wanted this book to be a little different and tried to develop it to encourage visitors to not only explore the park but have fun learning with and from each other at the same time. We hope it not only helps them discover something new about the Smokies, but also helps them create wonderful memories during their trip.”

Each activity offers a different educational, hands-on opportunity to engage with the many scientific, historical or cultural lessons to be learned in the park.

“We decided early on that we wanted our book to immerse visitors in exploring the park,” Ferrence said. “We didn’t want them to read about the Smokies; we wanted them to get busy looking and thinking and playing in the Smokies – and we wanted them to enjoy doing that with their family and friends. We were imagining intergenerational groups working on the book together and learning as much from each other as they did from the book. We don’t want this book to be just for kids. If a visitor wants to learn about the park, we want them to have fun participating in the program. We want to swear them in as Junior Rangers when they’re done. There’s no age limit on learning.”

The 9-by-12-inch “Junior Ranger Activity Guide,” which includes 38 illustrated pages of activities and a tear-out postcard, is available for $4.50 in the park’s visitor center bookstores and at GSMA’s online store at smokiesinformation.org.

Keely Knopp, marketing project manager, provided information for this report.


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