Come one, come all — join the Army

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

The National Park Service will celebrate National Junior Ranger Day Saturday. In honor of that day, we will present two sessions of one of our old Junior Ranger camp favorites, “Join the Army,” at Melrose. One session will be in the morning and one in the afternoon.

This program, which is offered for children ages 8-12, has been a hit in previous summer camps and also in classrooms all over Natchez and Vidalia.

Each “Join the Army” session will follow a free tour of Melrose for the children who will each complete our Junior Ranger Activity Book. The first two-hour session will begin at 9:30 a.m. The second session will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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At the end of the program, the children will be sworn in as Junior Rangers and will receive their official Junior Ranger badges. The sessions are limited to 20 kids, so remember to arrive a few minutes early. They will fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As the school year winds down and summer approaches, it is also time to start thinking about summer camp. We hope that you and your children will consider Natchez National Historical Park’s Junior Ranger Summer Camp.

The third year of the camp will continue the award-winning tradition of exposing local youth to the area’s diverse history. In the past we’ve fought Civil War battles, played Natve American stickball games, toured a cotton plantation and traveled up the Natchez Trace.

This year we will focus on events and people who shaped American — and Natchez — history during the 20th century. Our campers will become familiar with World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and Richard Wright.

Highlights of this year’s camp will include a field trip to the USS Kidd battleship in Baton Rouge and the production of a play based on the children’s story “Richard Wright and the Library Card.” Campers will star in the play and also design all the scenery.

The camp will take place in three one-week sessions: June 9-13, June 16-20 and June 23-27, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. The camp is available for children between the ages of 8 and 12. Campers who have joined us in the past are welcome to return again this year. Those who have attended before will be exposed to programs and topics that have not been featured in past camps.

We also look forward to seeing fresh faces. If your child has never attended our summer camp, see if they know anyone who has. No doubt they will hear some great stories about what we do.

As in previous years, the camp will be free of charge. Registration packets will be available at Melrose and at the park administration offices at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center starting Saturday. The registration packets will be available through May 9.

Registration will take place on May 10 on a first-come, first-serve basis in the park’s administrative offices at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, starting at 9 a.m. We encourage parents to arrive early and have their registration packets completed. Only parents or guardians will be able to register their children.

It’s never too early to get into the Junior Ranger spirit, so please come join us on Saturday for Junior Ranger Day, and remember to pick up your registration packets for camp on that day or any day up until registration on May 10.

Nathan Hatfield works for the National Park Service.