"As a Junior Ranger, I pledge to explore, learn about, and protect all national parks, today and in the future."
This was the pledge that Lukas took at the Aztec Ruins National Monument with Ranger Connie yesterday afternoon. He was so proud of himself, and one of the first things to come out of his mouth was, "Wait until Grandma and Grandpa see this! They're going to love it!"
At just four years old, his interest in the ruins surprised me a bit, but his refusal to walk away from the far outdated introductory film really threw me for a loop!
Though both kids loved the "Great Kiva", their favorite part was the 700 yard trail that led us through the West Ruin, an excavated great house that once boasted more than 400 interconnected rooms built around an open plaza. Many rooms contain the original pine, spruce and aspen beams hauled from distant mountains (without horses!) and its massive sandstone walls tower over 30 feet!
According to Outdoor.com, the Aztec community was concentrated on and below a terrace overlooking the Animas River. Built and used over a 200-year period, it is "the largest ancestral Pueblo community in the Animas River valley.
And, as for Lukas, this may have been his first Junior Ranger experience, but it certainly won't be his last. Kudos to the National Parks Service for coming up with a exciting new way for children to get involved and learn about their environment! To learn more about the initiative, visit the NPS website. You're kids will thank you! :)
I'll end with a quote from Lukas' Junior Ranger worksheet, where they asked children to "tell an adult one way you can help take care of places like Aztec Ruins".
Lukas solution? To "find special people that can use sticky glue to fix it for the Indians."
And that, dear readers, was your sneak peak inside the mind of a wandering four-year-old.