Junior Ranger Camp 2022
The end of August was a busy time for the CNPA ranger service, with 31 Junior Rangers and 7 Rangers descending upon Mar Lodge Estate for Junior Ranger Camp 2022. It was a weekend of fun, learning, and action; there was a tangle of tents, hefty hikes and a menace of midges. On the final day Seasonal Ranger Fiona hosted a creative writing session, asking the Junior Rangers to reflect on their experience at camp. Here are some of their responses.
How did you feel on the hike? What did you see?
The Junior Rangers could choose between two walks to go on; one was a long, flatter walk to an enormous granny Scots pine on Mar Lodge Estate, the other a hill walk up the Munro Glas Maol in Glenshee.
“The gravel crunched underfoot. Heather hums
with the song of happy bumblebees, a
gunshot echoes through the hills and past
the streams meadow pipits soar high
singing their song whilst I trek on
taking in all the surroundings around me”
“the pebbles bit my feet
the air was cool and crisp
the plants gave off a nice smell
the water was cool
the sun was warm
the birds were loud
the river was cold.”
“I felt tired and happy. It was hard but I got through it just fine. But my feet didn’t, they felt like they were going to fall off. My feet felt better today.”
“The wind whipped and thrashed my face. It was a nice break from the raging heat. Throughout the whole walk the sun stared down at me and took control of me with its heat, as if by magic. When we got to the bottom of the hill an oasis appeared and offered its water and blaeberries to us. The water was so fresh and pure and the berries almost asked us to pick them.”
“Words are insignificant to describe the sheer wonder it brought to her eyes.
She was tired but excited.
Alone but with friends.
Hungry but carrying food.
Tuned out of her senses.
As she strode up the hill.
There it is! What was that she heard?
A bumblebee swishing past.
A butterfly gliding on invisible wings.
The real happiness and joy is not what you do,
But how you do it.
And all the while, five years old again.”
“The low lying mist blanketing the horizon could be seen ahead. I was determined to climb the Munro but when I saw the working chairlift my mind suddenly tuned into its programmed functioning of wanting to take the easy route. What satisfaction would I receive from taking the easy way? I then started to climb the Munro, surrounded by friendly, eager faces. The steep rocks tired out my strained calf muscles as my legs continued to push up the hill. My tired legs were hurting but they were also getting a lot stronger. The intense dryness of my throat started to come into play, I could feel myself desperate to feel the sensation of fresh, cold water down my throat. Upon reaching a checkpoint, I quickly scoffed down the cold water, appreciating the taste of its icy freshness. Continuing on I got challenged by many different loose rocks, testing my balance as I almost ended up falling down. But my strong, sturdy hiking shoes managed to grip tightly at the rocks, keeping me from falling. The mist surrounding us started to clear and the white horizon turned into a view that could’ve been and probably is on a postcard. A vivid blue sky and a sea of beautiful mountains in every direction. Surreal. Determined to reach the top, I used my strength to trek up the final push of the Munro, my face now turning red from determination. I remember seeing the top for the first time. The hard work that lead up to this moment was all worth it. With the midday silence and absence of the wind I threw a rock on the cairn. I made it.”
What are you grateful for?
Fiona asked the Junior Rangers to reflect on things they appreciated both within Junior Ranger Camp and in their wider lives. Ranger Tony’s cooking at camp proved to be popular!
“I am thankful that Tony is our chef. I now have a Junior Ranger cap. I live in the National Park. I got to sleep inside. I got to be here. I am thankful for great friends.”
“(1) My family.
(2) The landscape around me.
(3) Ability to have an awesome camp.
(4) To see certain species.
(5) My friends.
(6) Electricity and other essentials.”
“I am grateful for The Cairngorms, my family, all the sports I do, the Junior Ranger program and my friends. I enjoyed chatting with the Deesiders and the Glas Maol chant.”
“(1) Being able to have the opportunity to do Junior Rangers.
(2) Where we live.
(3) Tony cooking for us.
(4) The rangers putting this camp on.
(5) Mum & Dad.”
“I’m grateful for my legs to be able to carry me everywhere I go.”
“I’m grateful for being able to come on this camp, Chef Tony and his amazing cooking, meeting the Speyside Rangers, the weather being pretty good!, all the Rangers giving up their weekends, and putting so much time & effort into making this camp happen.”
Bring on Junior Ranger Camp 2023!
If you know someone 11-18 who lives locally and might like to join in with the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger project, all the joining information can be found by heading to cairngorms.co.uk/caring-future/education/learning/junior-rangers/ or find our page on social media for updates: