Junior Ranger Birthday Party
Want to throw a Junior Ranger birthday party for your little nature lover? We had so much fun with this theme.
Not only did 7-year-old William’s idea align beautifully with our family’s love of nature and National Parks, it also made it easy to throw the party outside where the party animals could run free.
Many of our family trips revolve around visiting National Parks so our kids have earned a good number of official Junior Ranger badges over the years (just ask and they will proudly show them off, in fact they may show you even if you don’t ask). Their experience helped them contribute wonderful ideas to incorporate a Junior Ranger Birthday party theme into the cake, activities, and goodie bags.
Junior Ranger Birthday Cake & Snacks
First, I used a toothpick to draw a badge shape on top of the frosted cake. Then I melted chocolate chips in a zip-lock bag, squeezed the chocolate into a corner of the bag and cut a small opening (like a pastry bag) to apply a nice dark (and yummy) badge shape. His name went across the top of the badge but I left the rest blank for more decorations.
Thankfully, William already had some Lego park rangers and a bear I could use for the cake.
Pretzels are fun to build with when you use melted chocolate as mortar. The combination tastes great and you can make all kinds of things. Using white chocolate, pretzels, and red sprinkles, I made a little bonfire for the middle of the badge. And what’s a campfire without marshmallows? I stuck mini marshmallows on stick-like Lego pieces so the rangers (and the bear) could roast marshmallows by the fire.
Last but not least (this part turned out to be everyone’s favorite), I crumbled graham crackers with mini marshmallows, sprinkled them around the bottom edge of the cake, then drizzled melted chocolate over them for a s’mores-style finish.
Trail Mix (or a make your own trail mix station) is another theme-appropriate snack idea but one friend has a nut sensitivity so I opted for simple veggies and hummus… Junior Rangers cannot live on sweets alone.
Junior Ranger Decorations & Activities
We advised guests to “dress for the weather” and went about setting up various Junior Ranger activities throughout our yard. Decorations were minimal but I had a lot of fun posting Campground Signs all over the place.
The best Junior Ranger activities for our party were:
- A Big Family-Sized Tent (Junior Ranger Headquarters set up in the middle of the yard)
- A big padded frisbee, called a “Beamo” (super easy to throw and catch and doesn’t hurt when it hits you)
- Stomp Rockets (to make a target, we hung a hula hoop by a rope hanging in a tree). This simple toy has been a huge hit at every single gathering we’ve had over the past 5 years. They do wear out after time but a little duct tape and resourceful kids can easily repair them.
- A homemade Junior Ranger Activity Book (I “cheated” and printed pages from all around the web using a mix of worksheets and graphics from many different park websites).
We did a Scavenger Hunt then played a bunch of outside games. Hiring two teenage neighbor girls to help wrangle the kids was brilliant!. Their energy and ideas were a huge help.
The girls led everyone in some great Junior Ranger themed games:
- What Time is it Mr. Fox?
- Fire in the Forest
- Rattlesnake Tag (everyone holds hands and one end of the line is the snake’s head and the other is the tail; the head tries to tag the tail. Once tagged, the next person becomes the “head” and the first player goes to the back of the line and becomes the “tail”)
- Rabbit Hole (2 or 3 circles, large enough for several kids to stand inside, are marked on ground. 1 or 2 players are the “predators” and act like foxes or wolves while the other players are “prey” or rabbits running from hole to hole attempting to not get tagged by the predator)
If you’re planning a Junior Ranger Party, tons more activities and ideas can be found from wonderful books like Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature and Nature Connection but who am I kidding, you’ll end up at Pinterest either way.
Last but not least, we made Junior Ranger badges for each guest.
We made these Junior Ranger badges using simple wooden cut out shapes (from Michael’s for about 29 cents each and a Silver Foil Kit which was surprisingly easy to use. Next we put name tags and stickers on, then added a final coat of sealant from the foil kit. Finally, we stuck pins on the back so kids could put them on their shirts.
Goodie bags were simple paper bags with each Junior Ranger’s Name printed on yet another badge (another free customizable printable) and filled with a little ziplock bag holding s’mores ingredients, a working compass, a personalized nature notebook, and a paint-it-yourself wooden snake.