Alison Brick pauses to thank the people behind our National Parks.
It’s the heart of summer, and you can almost hear the pounding of tent stakes into the ground and the blowing of embers to start campfires as people make their way outdoors. National and state parks across the country are being appreciated this time of year for their natural beauty, but what about the people who run them?
Fortunately, this Thursday, July 29 is Thank a Ranger Day. After all, we have rangers to thank for a lot of our favorite park memories. Not only do they greet us at the park entrances (always with a smile), but they lead guided tours, host campfire programs and interpretive programs, offer directions, conduct geological and natural history research, and provide law enforcement and search and rescue. Their dedication both preserves the natural wilderness and ensures that it will be available to visitors for generations.
Thank a Ranger Day started in 2006 to honor Jeff Christensen, a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park who died while on backcountry patrol in July 2005. So if you happen to be at a park on Thursday, give an extra thanks to a person in uniform.
And while we’re celebrating, let’s give a shout-out to our favorite campsite dessert, s’mores. National S’mores Day is August 10th, and several parks will be hosting events in honor of the sloppy snack. Shenandoah National Park will have a Backyard Barbecue & S’mores Festival on Saturday on August 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyland Resort. And Mesa Verde National Park is offering a camping package that includes ingredients for s’mores and a pancake breakfast as well. But even if you’re not near a campfire that day, you can still make do with a microwaved or broiled marshmallow/chocolate/graham cracker combo. Just a little of that classic gooey mess can make you feel like you’re roughing it.