On Sunday, the National Park Teen Ambassadors returned from a 5-day camping trip in Voyageurs National Park, their second and final trip of the summer. Organized in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry and the National Park Service, the National Park Teen Ambassador Program aims to bring together teens from all over Minnesota to experience their state’s national parks and inspire them to be ambassadors for our public lands. Our excited group of Ambassadors embarked on a trip to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in mid-June during an unexpected thunderstorm. Luckily, the weather during their second trip was much more agreeable. Though some heavy winds and rains delayed the Ambassadors’ paddle to their campsite on Round Bear Island for the first two days, the remainder of the trip was sunny and beautiful, and it provided the perfect setting for the Ambassadors to explore Voyageurs National Park and engage in many fun activities along the way.
During the trip, the Ambassadors had the opportunity to meet with park rangers and NPS employees specializing in a variety of fields. At Round Bear Island, the Ambassadors met with park rangers to learn about various aspects of wildlife research, including loon surveying and wildlife tracking. The next day, a park ranger took the Ambassadors on a hike to Blind Ash Bay. Then, the Ambassadors met with a Park Service pilot to discuss his job and responsibilities. On the fourth day, park ranger Miranda Challeen led a boat tour to sites including Hoist Bay, Ellsworth Rock Gardens, and the Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center. Finally, park superintendent Mike Ward joined the group at their campsite to answer questions about his role in the park.
Many Ambassadors expressed how much they gained from these activities. Following the boat tour, one Ambassador said, “I think this was an amazing experience.” Another stated, “I had an awesome time and I got to meet a bunch of really cool people.” Some of the Ambassadors even expressed an interest in working in the environment following graduation, and several of the park rangers and NPS employees encouraged the Ambassadors to follow up with emails after the trip.
Overall, the trip was a great success. However, the 2013 National Park Teen Ambassador Program is not over yet. The Ambassadors will be giving outreach presentations about how this program and the national parks enabled them to grow as individuals. Through these presentations, the Ambassadors will be able to clarify their thoughts and fully understand the impact that the great outdoors can have on everyone.
See more photos from their trip here.