Junior Ranger Day 2010 (Fire Island National Seashore)

This weekend was fantastic! As a part of National Parks Week, Saturday was Junior Ranger Day.  Many National Park sites had special activities for kids to earn the special Junior Ranger Day badge and patch.  This was my first time to do Junior Ranger Day, so I studied lots of different parks to decide which one to go to on the big day.

After looking at the posted activities for lots of parks in the New York City area, I decided on Fire Island National Seashore.  Fire Island is a long barrier island on the southern shore of Long Island.  I made sure that my moms woke up extra early- I didn't want to miss any of the fun. We drove from Queens halfway across Long Island.  Fire Island is unique because it doesn't allow cars or bicycles on the majority of the island.  We parked at Robert Moses State Park on the western tip of the island, then hiked in to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.  There are lots of little communities on Fire Island that are only reachable by ferry; instead of roads, they have boardwalks!

Inky at Fire Island: 8

When we got to the Lighthouse, there was a big tent full of activities for Junior Rangers.  I picked up a few different booklets- Fire Island doesn't just have a basic Junior Ranger program, it has 3 additional booklets you can do to earn other badges. I grabbed all of them, but I knew it would take several visits to finish all the booklets, especially the Advanced Junior Ranger one.

Inky at Fire Island: 5

First, I hiked along a boardwalk to a pier on the bay side of the island.  (One side of the island faces Long Island, the other side faces the Atlantic Ocean.) The water there was a lot calmer.  It reminded me a little bit of Cape Cod, where there is also a bay side and an ocean side.

Inky at Fire Island: 13

Then it was time to hit the ocean beach! We walked past the lighthouse through the dunes to get to the sandy beach. (Can you see the lighthouse in the background?)  Fire Island has boardwalks to make sure no one damages the ecosystem.  I saw so many colorful birds!  The beach was so long! It went on as far as I could see in either direction.  I was glad I decided to wear hiking boots instead of sandals- it can be really annoying to get sand in your sandals when you are trying to hike.

Inky at Fire Island: 11

Here I am on the beach. Isn't the ocean beautiful? I love the sparkly blue of the water.  There was only ocean, as far as I could see, but far away, Europe and Africa are out there!

Inky at Fire Island: 12

After some time, I found a giant pile of shells. I wonder why there were so many in one spot? There were clam shells, scallop shells, snail shells, and many other kinds.  When I was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, I saw the coolest thing- a seagull flew high into the air with a clam.  Then, he dropped it! He did it over and over again until the shell cracked open- then he ate the clam inside! Aren't seagulls smart?

Inky at Fire Island: 15

After we hiked a long way down the beach, we turned around and hiked back to the lighthouse.  I went back to the Junior Ranger tent and handed in my booklet.  The rangers gave me my special Junior Ranger 2010 badge. I'm so proud of it! I can't wait to go to Junior Ranger Day next year.  I wonder which park I'll pick next year?

Inky at Fire Island: 16

Fire Island is so beautiful.  I can't wait for some friends to visit so I can take them there! To learn more about Fire Island National Seashore, check out http://www.nps.gov/fiis!

Did you do anything fun this weekend? Do you have anything planned for next week?

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