The night before Junior Ranger Day, the Natural Resources division decided to put on our first-ever live evening Bat Chat. This meant that twelve hours before Junior Ranger Day began, we set out into the night in two teams: one team waited at Skull Cave to wrangle bats, and the other went to the campground amphitheater to wrangle guests.
We lured almost forty people to the amphitheater with the promise of live bats and then made them sit through a presentation given by a slightly nervous and over-eager intern: me.
The visitors ooh-ed and aah-ed at all the right moments and asked lots of wonderful questions but the stars of the show were the bats. After forty-five minutes of bat photos, bat skeletons, and bat models, our visitors were ready for the real thing. The Skull Cave team came through with one sleepy Pallid bat and one feisty Little Brown bat who was not thrilled with his sudden role as headliner. The visitors got to see real live bats (for some of them, for the first time!) and compare the differences between the species. Many of them went back to their campsites that evening saying that, for all that the Little Brown bat had a bad attitude, he was definitely the cuter bat.
The next morning, during Junior Ranger Day, Emma and I shared a table and did our bat activities side by side. Emma showed kids how to compare themselves (their wingspan, their diet, their ability to flap their arms) to a bat. I helped them make Bat Hats that looked like a bat was chasing insects around their heads. The kids were eager to learn and to color and Emma and I spent a great day teaching over a hundred kids about bats. We even saw familiar faces from the previous evening’s Bat Chat, which was wonderful. Our coworkers were amazing: they snuck us water and donuts and cherry popsicles to get us through the hot day when our table was too busy to leave. We really appreciated the snacks, but there’s nothing more awkward than telling a child that no, you can’t share your popsicle!