Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If you were a kid...

Our office (Education) at Mt. Rainier National Park gets letters from kids all of the time. Some kids write with a very specific request - park maps, newspapers, etc. - often times for school projects. Some other kids write us to "thank the rangers" that gave XYZ program that they attended when they were camping with their family. Every letter is different, every kids has something different to say. Some of the letters are absolutely hysterical.

The park really doesn't have any funding to maintain a program of sending lots of materials to kids via the mail, even for school project requests. And no, these letters don't just come from Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia - these letters come from all over the U.S. Recently, we've received letters from New York and Michigan. It's just sad; we're basically passing up a huge PR campaign.

My direct boss has followed the party line and sends out the standard "look at our website" response to many kids. But since January, the job has fallen to my coworker Fawn, and she's a bit of a rebel. She wrote up a nice little 'fact sheet' about the park - double-sided so there is a bit to read including some pictures. She sends these sheets and a park map to every kid that writes us now.

(If you didn't ever notice, by the entrance/exit station, most parks have a drop box, if you don't want to hold on to the park map and newspaper given you when you arrive. Sometimes, these documents are in good enough shape to hand out to a second round of people. ;) Someone gets the "good enough condition" maps...)

Personally, I would like to see this tiny little program idea of Fawn's expand. I would like to put together a proposal of ideas and a potential budget and write a grant to get this thing funded. Getting kids connected with our parks is a major issue right now - and is a priority sent from Washington (D.C.).

So. I have my ideas of what I'd like to be able to send out to the kids. But before I discuss that, I'd like to ask you all out there in Cyberville:

1) Have your kids or your friends' kids ever written to a National Park in such a way? If so, what (if anything) did they receive?

2) What do you think kids would love to receive, or be interested in receiving, in addition to a park map or newspaper?

Feel free to comment or just send me an email directly. ;) Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Well, in answer to #2...

    I guess it depends on the age range. Not that you have time to modify what you are sending, but perhaps you could have different packets. A packet for kids up to Grade 3, then a Grades 4-8, and Grade 9-adult. I'm sure their interests are very different. Younger children are probably interested in the park's species, older kids would understand and find basic volcanic info interesting and the G9 to adult range would like info on most everything.

    I would think young kids would like lots of animal facts as well as other facts converted into "kid lingo". Like, "The hike on Trail X to Lake Y where bears are seen fishing is the equivalent of walking a football field 15 times." Or something like that.

    I dunno...lol