To be honest, the term Ranger is at least as complicated as the terms Scout and Ninja, and the ideas and associations with them. Heck, some of us probably grew up with the whole Power Ranger phenomenon (I didn't though. It was just a little bit after my time. But, I was accused of being the Green Ranger once by a very enthusiastic 5-year old boy who was a big fan of the show). It's hard to nail down exactly why this is and what's going on.
But, I have some ideas...
To begin with, the term Ranger comes from Old French which had both the term "ranger" and "renger" whic are related to the verb "rengen", which means to move through a large area with the purpose of searching and/or hunting. When I discovered the actual origins of the word Ranger, lightbulbs went off for me.
Here was an old term that described at least some of the behavior I was talking about. Searching, travelling through large territories, looking for food or danger...essentially scouting out the area. And, suddenly I understood a bit more about Rangers (and why the term is used so widely).
You see, U.S. Army Rangers (who focus on missions deep inside enemy territory and must have survival skills, reconnaissance expertise, intelligence gathering and more), and fantasy Rangers (like Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings) who are experts at survival, stealth, knowing the land, as well as distance and close combat, both require a similar set of skills and understanding (although one is clearly real-life and the other mythical).
Park Rangers who work in national, state, and local parks also have a similar overlap, often needing to be experts in a variety of fields including local flora and fauna, awareness of dangers and hazards inside their territory, and usually in charge of rule enforcement, laws, and rescue operations in the park they work in.
Even the famous Texas Rangers (of Walker, Texas Ranger fame) are a law enforcement agency based in Austin, requiring the highest level of training, and are tasked with carrying out statewide investigations and protections. Their history includes widely ranging abilities (pun intended!) including stopping the assassination of a U.S. president, arresting many of the most notorious criminals in the Old West era of Texas, and serving as guides and scouts for counter-guerilla operations.
For many years, before the widespread appearance of survival skills on television and in the movies, as an adult I would try to describe to my childhood friends what I did. It was pretty difficult. They would often come to the conclusion that what I was doing was somehow related to the Fantasy Rangers they read about in books or played in video games. In retrospect, as I've looked deep into the origin and complexity of the word Ranger, they may have been right. These semi-mythical stories of Fantasy Rangers were actually pointing at the archetype I knew so well: an ancient role that various humans have taken on at times to help protect them and their loved ones and deepening their relationship to the land and world around them.
In my Scoutcraft book and project, my hope is to go deeper and wider into ideas like "Ranger" and unlock the archetype behind all of these ideas. Along the way, I plan to tell some cool stories, share insights, and perhaps most importantly lay out some really useful and amazing skills that will unlock a whole new view of survival and nature for readers and participants...
And, maybe someday I'll figure out what the heck the Power Rangers are all about!
(If you know, please tell me. I'm dying to hear what is really going on)
Did you grow up with stories of Rangers? Which ones? And, how important were they to you?
Comment down below and let me know.