Calling all parents who are looking for a free, yet educational, summer program in Franklin County: Booker T. Washington National Monument still has openings for both its Eco Camp and Junior Ranger sessions. While the official deadline to register was June 21, Ranger Brittany Lane said the park will accept students until the classes reach capacity.

“This is something I tell every parent — these are free programs, so take advantage,” Lane said. “And they’re open to all children as a way to learn about nature and the importance of history in a fun and creative way.”

This year’s Eco Camp runs the last three Saturdays in July – July 13, 20 and 27 – from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. It’s open to ages 7 to 12. Eco Camp is sponsored by both Blue Ridge Foothills & Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists and Booker T. Washington National Monument.

Each Eco Camp session includes two topics. July 13 is Find it & Snap it!, a foray into digital photography for which campers should bring a digital camera or cellphone to take pictures. The other topic for July 13 is Bird Calls – Twitter and Tweets, an introduction to the sounds made by area birds.

On July 20, campers can study creek health in Come Build a Creek with Us. The other topic for July 20 is How do Animals Use Their Senses?

The last Saturday camp, July 27, delves into botany with The Secret Life of Seeds: Do Plants Communicate? Aquatic life is up next that day with What’s Under that Creek Rock?

This year’s Junior Ranger program runs Wednesdays – July 10, 17 and 24 – from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The Junior Ranger program is open to ages 6 to 12.

Last year, the Junior Ranger program focused on vocational trades and agriculture as they related to Booker T. Washington’s path to serving as principal of Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Alabama.

“This year, it’s more on working with our heads, hands and heart,” Lane explained. She said that by exploring Washington’s early life, junior rangers can see how day-to-day activities such as chores shaped his work ethic. The program is activity-based, she added, offering a fun and interactive way for Junior Rangers to absorb concepts such as character.

On July 10, Junior Rangers will talk with a park ranger and herpetologist about Washington’s views on the importance of nature in Listening to Mother Nature.

July 17 features Walk a Mile in Booker’s Shoes. Junior rangers will venture out to the 1.5-mile Jack-O-Lantern Branch Trail to learn about Washington’s journey to freedom.

The last Wednesday, July 24, features Booker Character Camp. Junior rangers will discuss the importance of good character and participate in hands-on team-building activities

To register for either the Eco Camp or the Junior Ranger programs, call 721-2094. Parents may choose one or all sessions. All are free of charge.