Several years ago Ray and I discovered the State of Maine state park passport program and it changed our lives.
If you are unfamiliar with the program it is a checklist for visiting all 48 state parks managed by the Department of Parks and Lands of the State of Maine. The parks range from Fort McClary in Kittery to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Northern Aroostook County.
Visiting all 48 state parks introduces you to beaches, historic forts and buildings, mountains, hiking trails, canoe trails, and the depth and breadth of the state of Maine. When we devised the I Know ME program we realized that our kids would benefit from being exposed to all of these wonderful parks and seeing what makes living in Maine such a rich experience.
On February 6 the first group of I Know ME kids visited Commissioner Walter Whitcomb in Augusta to receive their state park passports. A story about their visit was picked up by the Associated Press and circulated nationally.
A goal of the I Know ME program is to help young people confront the problems of the state and answer nagging questions using the resources of government, business, tourism, universities, museums, and people. Engaging with the state parks is one step in this process of exploration.
After visiting Commissioner Whitcomb the group had its first visit to the Maine State Legislature.
Crossing through the metal detector was the first challenge.
Senator Mike Thibodeau welcomed the group to the legislature.
Representative Erin Herbig showed them her office including the “secret passage” to the House floor.
In these days of political cynicism it is important for kids to understand their government and to be able to understand the work they do for the people of Maine.
Each session ends with journal writing. Their journals will be kept from year to year to show the progress these young people are making in the mastery of their state and their lives.
Please “travel” with us as we explore the state including the 48 state parks. Please feel free to make additional suggestions about who we should know, where we should go, what we show do, and how much experience it takes to understand the state of Maine.