Into the wild
CALUMET – A 13-year-old girl from Illinois is trying to see in person as many of the National Park Service sites as possible, and her journey will bring her to Keweenaw National Historical Park Friday.
Aida Frey said she and her family, who are from Algonquin, Illinois, stopped at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa three years ago, and at the site, an NPS ranger gave her a Junior Ranger booklet, in which children answer questions about the NPS sites they’ve visited. That got her hooked on the idea of visiting as many sites as possible.
Aida said so far her family has visited 163 NPS sites. There are more than 400 national parks, monuments, lakeshores, seashores, battlefields and others.
She knows she won’t be able to do all the sites, because some are in places as far away as Alaska, Guam, and Hawaii, but she wants to do as many as possible.
“It’s better to do them physically,” she said. “This summer we’re going out west to the Grand Canyon.”
Aida said the first stop this sum-
mer for her and her family will be at KNHP on Friday, then to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore later Friday or Saturday on their way to 22 NPS sites.
“It’s going to take four weeks,” she said.
Tom Baker, KNHP acting superintendent and park ranger/management assistant in the park’s Calumet Township headquarters building, said based on conversations with Aida’s father, Shawn, she’s going to be busy for awhile visiting the various sites.
“She’s pretty determined to visit them all,” Baker said.
Baker said Aida has received about 200 badges from the NPS Junior Park Ranger program. She has become sort of an unofficial spokesperson for the NPS.
“She likes to talk to other kids so they can see how important national parks are,” he said.
Shawn Frey said although going to as many NPS sites as possible involves a lot of driving, the family is glad to do it.
“We love visiting these parks,” he said. “We’re teaching Aida how important it is save historic places. Once a wrecking ball gets to it, it’s gone forever.”
Last year, Shawn Frey said the family drove about 5,000 miles on their trip out west. He’s uncertain how many miles they will travel this year.
Shawn Frey said he and his wife, Norma, hope Aida’s experience with the NPS sites will encourage her to work for the agency.
“It’s just been such a positive experience for us,” he said.