VNMP offering summer camps

Published 5:55 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

The Vicksburg National Military Park will be offering three weeks of summer camp through its Junior Ranger and Ranger-in-Training camp programs, and begin a new relationship with the Perks YMCA program that will introduce YMCA campers to park activities.

The park’s camps are free, but a limited number of spaces are available. Applications for camp are available at the park Visitor Center at 3201 Clay St. All applications will be due by 5 p.m. May 18. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by May 21.

“Our traditional Junior Ranger Camp will be the same as last year, offering the two weeks of Junior Ranger Camp and then the one week of our Ranger-in-Training Camp,” said Scott Babinowich, chief of interpretation at the Military Park.

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“The new part of it, the National Park Service as a whole has a nationwide partnership with the YMCA for summer camp programs, and Vicksburg was selected as one of the new sites to be added into that national partnership, which gives us the opportunity to work closely with the YMCA and help each other out in some of our existing summer camp programs.”

Under the partnership, the YMCA campers visiting the park will be able to go through some ranger programs and tour the park.

“The YMCA component this summer will be like an educational experience,” Babinowich said. “They’ll come watch the film, we’ll put them through some Junior Ranger programs and take them on a tour of the park.”

Junior Ranger Summer Camp teaches campers about the campaign and siege of Vicksburg, the lives of soldiers and civilians, health during the Civil War and today, African American history in Vicksburg, wildlife of Mississippi and art in the park.

The camp runs from 8 a.m. to noon, June 25 through June 29, and July 16 through July 20. Junior Ranger Summer Camp applicants will be selected using a lottery system.

The Ranger-In-Training Camp is an extension of the Junior Ranger Summer Camp for campers who have outgrown that program.

Babinowich said the Ranger-In-Training Camp for 13- to 16-year-olds is in its second year.

“Last year was incredibly successful, and we’re excited to bring it back again this year, just to give more options for our local community,” he said.

The camp immerses campers in the historical and natural resources of the park while also introducing them to the National Park Service, careers with the Park Service, and the importance of volunteerism.

“It’s a good mix of educational programs with behind the scenes here at the park. They’ll spend time with each of the divisions, learning what they do,” Babinowich said. “We’ll do some service projects with them in the park, we’ll expose them to some basic job skills; interviews, resume building, everything to kind of prepare them for that next step.”

After completing Ranger-In-Training Camp, students will come back and use what they’ve learned to help run either week of Junior Ranger Summer Camp. Ranger-In-Training Camp will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from June 4 through June 8. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Campers for Ranger-In-Training Camp will be selected based on their level of interest expressed in their application letters.

For questions related to Junior Ranger Camp sign up, please contact Rebecca Hoffman at 601-636-0583 or

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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