ACADIA NAT’L PARK — When 18-year-old Aida Frye of Algonquin, Ill., visited Acadia July 17-18, she topped her own national record for completing Junior Ranger programs.
Over the past nine years, she has collected Junior Ranger badges from 341 of the 419 National Park Service units. It started with a visit to Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa.
“I didn’t know what a Junior Ranger program was; I didn’t know anything about national parks,” she said. “But two very nice rangers walked up to me and invited me do a program. They helped me do the booklet and gave me my badge, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
“So, we kept visiting national parks and I kept collecting the badges,” Aida said. “I love traveling and seeing our country, so I don’t see any reason to stop.”
Junior Ranger programs are a set of activities designed primarily for children and teens, although people of all ages may participate. After completing the activities, Junior Rangers are asked to take an oath to “protect parks, continue to learn about parks and share their own ranger story with friends and family.”
Aida and her parents, Sean and Norma, have now visited National Park Service units in 48 states. This was their first trip to Maine.
“Acadia is a lot bigger than I had thought it was,” Aida said. “We went to the top of Cadillac Mountain, and the view up there was really cool. It was really unique. I took lots of pictures and sent them to all my friends and family.”
A few years ago, Aida published a book about the national parks she had visited, titled “America, Can I Have Your Autograph?”
After leaving Acadia last weekend, Aida and her parents planned to visit the other
National Park Service units in Maine: Saint Croix Island International Historic Site and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
As they travel around the country, they also visit state parks, national forests and national wildlife refuges.