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 Junior Ranger badges (just ask and they will proudly show you one of their Badge Displays). 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. If you don’t have this particular Lego set sitting around, the little animals in the North American Wildlife TOOB are great or you could even order a Fireside Camping Cake Decorating Set, complete with a light-up tent.
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… Anyhow, 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 Paper Campfire Centerpieces were safe and fun, plus we posted Campground Signs all around. These signs plus theme-appropriate Party Supply Packs for 16 can be ordered from Amazon (affilliate links) or you can find free printable Campground Signs here.
The best Junior Ranger activities for our party were:
- A Big Family-Sized Tent to play in (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 photo booth with Lumberjack Photo Props was super fun and easy to create since we have woods behind our house!
- A homemade Junior Ranger Activity Book (I would be happy to send you a free printable version if you subscribe to my e-newsletter).
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.
Fun Junior Ranger 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).
Last but not least, we made Junior Ranger badges for each guest.
We made these Junior Ranger badges using simple wooden cut-outs (from Michael’s for about 29 cents each) and a Silver Foil Kit. Next we applied name tags and stickers, 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. In retrospect, something like these Natural Wood Slices with pre-drilled holes would have been easier and kids could use Sharpies to decorate them themselves.
Goodie bags were simple paper bags with each Junior Ranger’s Name printed on another badge (link to another free customizable printable). Each one was filled with a little bag of S’mores ingredients, a compass, twig pencil, magnifying glass, a nature notebook personalized for each kid, and a paint-it-yourself wooden snake. Alternatively, this survival-themed Party Favors Set fits the theme perfectly as well.