Junior Rangers at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park get sworn in by Ranger Shyla Ronia. // © 2014 Nathan Kam
With just a slight mention of Hawaii, children get giddy about zooming down super water slides and catching waves. When the agenda turns toward educational diversions, however, they tend to change their tune.
Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor on Oahu are often found on adult bucket lists as attractions rich in culture and history. However, these inspiring outdoor classrooms also focus on engaging younger visitors with complimentary Junior Ranger programs that make learning fun.
Haleakala National Park
Established in 1916 as part of Hawaii National Park, Haleakala is coveted for its glorious sunrises, majestic silversword plants, hiking trails and cultural demonstrations. At the national park, kids can engage in Junior Ranger adventures as well as print out coloring sheets of native birds, insects and fish dwelling within the 33,265-acre nature-packed wonderland.
“We have guided hikes at Pa Kaoao, which is a small hill next to Haleakala Visitor Center,” said Polly Angelakis, chief of interpretation and education at Haleakala National Park. “There’s also Hosmer Grove, a 45-minute loop that kids can do with their parents.”
A portion of Hosmer Grove’s trail travels through native habitat with endemic plant and bird species, making the hike both easy and rewarding.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers families several kid-friendly options through its Junior Ranger program, including a workbook pointing out the towering Hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern) and nene (an endangered goose of the Hawaiian Islands), for example.
“Our Junior Ranger program is terrific because it gives kids and their parents the opportunity to learn together while exploring our park,” said Dean Gallagher, a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
After completing the workbook, kids will be sworn in as Junior Rangers by a park ranger — which makes them light up, according to Gallagher. He adds that completed workbook posters go into the National Park Service archives, further authenticating their accomplishment as a part of history.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Home to the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri and USS Oklahoma Memorial, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument has launched a new Keiki Ranger Activity Book (for ages 3 to 6) and Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt (for ages 7 to 12) to reflect the refreshed scope of the monument and its visitor center. Badge-earning activities guide children toward meaningful connections, while educating them on the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack that catapulted the United States into World War II.