Did you think Gettysburg is a place only to be enjoyed and appreciated by adults? Well you thought wrong. The Gettysburg National Military Park has seen to it that there are many activities designed with kids in mind, offering up exploration, creativity, education and excitement.
Activities exist for school year as well as summer visits and range in wide disciplines. So keep the kids marching to the beat of history with learning as well well as entertainment all-year long. Maybe your little man or young lady wants to experience first-hand what it meant to be a soldier in the Civil War. A one-hour daily program, ongoing from mid-June through mid-August allows such an experience as children ages 7 to 12 sign up at the Museum and Visitor Center information desk to “enlist” in the army and learn about soldier experiences.
The Junior Ranger Program may be another great option. This interactive project encompasses exploration while teaching all about Gettysburg and the Civil War. Kids and families will have fun learning all about the importance and history of the town and will even have the opportunity to see relics, visit historically significant spots throughout town and foster their own, personalized comprehension and understanding of the events that have unfolded here. To take part, simply ask for the Activity Guide for Junior Ranger Candidates at the Visitor Center. Children will complete at least three of the seven activities in the booklet, write down answers and return the booklet to the information desk where a park ranger will review it with him or her. If your child has successfully completed three activities, he or she will be awarded a patch and certificate designating him or her an “official” Junior Ranger at the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Kids visiting the Eisenhower National Historic Site can even get in on the act and become a Junior Secret Service Agent! Self-guided activities are provided for kids ages 7 to 12 and can be found in the Junior Secret Service Training Manual (also available online) provided free of cost to visiting children. Use binoculars to locate suspicious persons and objects, ask questions about “suspicious looking individuals and report to the Agent-in-Charge on the radio using code names and procedures.
During the summer months, children can experience Museum Carts. Park rangers and interns wheel a cart full of uniforms, letters, equipment and more into the visitor center lobby for kids to explore. Kids get to look at, touch, and in some cases even wear the items in the cart! The museum cart and experience is limited to children only and offered during select afternoons during the summer operating season.
When class is in session, the Gettysburg National Military Park provides plenty in the way of Student Education Programs and makes for great field trip destinations. From Civil War Soldier Life to experiencing Pickett’s Charge, programs occur annually for September to October and then again for March through May by reservation. For a listing of education-based programs, visit the National Park Service’s Teacher’s Page.
In addition to summer and school programs made available by the National Park Service, there are plenty of kid-friendly adventures to pursue throughout town on your own. From Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, Explore & More Museum, the Land of Little Horses, to Gettysburg Family Amusement Center, this little borough and its surrounding locales make for a great daytrip adventure to please the whole family.