Trail Rangers

    The Trail Rangers outdoor program guides students on public trail hikes to foster appreciation for the outdoors & stewardship, and to gain experience so Rangers can guide their friends & family on hikes in the future. 


    Who: 4th - 8th graders on the South Shore of Massachusetts 

    When: Sessions usually run 5-7 weeks during the school year, 1 outing per week, 3 hrs per outing, and can be scheduled to meet the needs of district academic calendars. 

    Where: Transportation provided from each school to public trails and back, either through South Shore Outdoors or other options preferred by school leaders. Ancillary drop-off at after-school programs is possible.

    Partnership: Sessions are operated by South Shore Outdoors and offered through town recreation departments, school districts, school leader groups, and others.

    Contact us at if you're interested in offering the Trail Rangers program at your school for the 2019/2020 school year.


    Outings offer introductions to basic outdoor skills including:

    • Orienteering
    • Trip planning
    • Back country safety
    • Leave No Trace principles
    • Geocaching
    • Nature appreciation
    • Stewardship
    • Trail construction & maintenance
    • Leadership roles
    • Field guide use

    Program Goals

    • Provide engaging programming, quality equipment, and a fun experience
    • Introduce and offer experience with recreational trail systems and foundational outdoor skills
    • Empower Rangers to lead their families and friends on local hikes

    Junior Hiker and Hiker Programs

    The Trail Rangers offers the Junior Hiker program for grades 4 & 5, and the Hiker program for grades 6-8.

    The Junior Hiker program exposes Rangers to outdoor skills and concepts, and offers hands-on experience with each. The Hiker program builds on the Junior Hiker program with more detailed outing skills sessions and skill demonstrations by Rangers.

    Participation & Gear

    Rangers are welcome to participate at their comfort level. If Rangers would like to earn the 'Junior Hiker' or 'Hiker' badge there are requirements for each designation related to attendance, leadership roles, and skill demonstration (Hiker only). Badges can be earned over multiple sessions.

    Rangers need the ability to safely walk 2 miles on uneven terrain. Rangers will be provided with bug spray, maps & compasses, digital devices for geocaching, snow shoes, and all other tools for outdoor skills and the season. Rangers are welcome to use their own gear as well. Winter session Trail Rangers will need a headlight and appropriate layered clothing.


    Developing an appreciation for the outdoors wouldn't be complete without the elements. If it rains we'll wear ponchos. If there's snow we'll use snow shoes. If it's lightening we'll be indoors. If school is cancelled due to weather the outing will be rescheduled or credited. Rangers are highly encouraged to plan & prepare each day's gear in relation to the weather. Winter sessions have clothing requirements.

    Our Approach

    The Trail Rangers after-school program is an experiential learning program that leverages positive reinforcement across our activities. We use three themed elements:

    1. Hands-on outing topics: orienteering, field guide use, emergency preparedness, geocaching, and nature appreciation. Each outing Rangers will use provided tools & activities to achieve an experiential goal, like learning how to orient yourself to a map using both a compass and terrain features, or learning how to construct a litter for emergency extrication from remote areas.

    2. Cross-cutting themes: safety, Leave No Trace ethics, trail construction & maintenance, gear performance, and being in nature - silence, technology, and stewardship. Each cross-cutting theme has exposure goals achieved through guide-lead topic overviews and facilitated discussions, followed by examples at each outing.

    3. Leadership roles - In-line with the hands-on topics and cross-cutting themes, there will be a chance for Rangers to opt-in to leadership roles for most outings.

    • Safety Lead: knows emergency plan for that outing, carries the first aid kit, and is comfortable with basic bandaging 
    • Leave No Trace Lead: coordinates litter clean-up and reviews one Leave No Trace principle on each outing
    • Stewardship Lead/s: carries 1-2 pruning tools and monitors & trims trail corridor of encroaching brush per Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) guidelines

    Health Impact

    Before and after each hike, with the permission of parents, Rangers will have their vital signs taken. No personalized data will be retained or communicated to any entity outside of parents. 

    Increasingly we are coming to understand the impact of our busy lives on health, as well as the positive impacts nature can have on our health. Aggregated non-identifying data can help us better understand the impacts of nature based activities on our children.


    South Shore Outdoors uses a thorough, multi-step tick abatement program for every outing. Please see our tick safety page for details.


    A defined communications plan between schools, parents, and South Shore Outdoors will be laid out in-line with each hosting entity's existing policies and norms to ensure maximal preparedness and coordination.

    Clothing guidelines and minimal packing lists will also be provided.

    Emergency Planning

    Each outing has a defined emergency preparedness plan for the specific trail being hiked - extrication points, hazard identification, contact info, etc. These plans are communicated to local police, fire, and EMS officials before outings.