Stamp Your Way Through the USA is a National Parks guidebook series featuring all 61 of the US National Parks. Emily Matheny conceived the idea of a National Parks stamp book when she imagined her daughter visiting the parks and the excitement she would have when collecting the official park stamps. She felt there was a need for a kid-friendly version of park stamp collection and she wanted a book that would become a lifelong keepsake a child could enjoy and easily use.
Emily recently sat down for an interview to answer a few questions about the book.
Your daughter was mentioned in the introduction. Do you have any other children?
Yes, we also have a son Emmett, he will be one this Christmas and Jane will be three in January. We live in Ohio, but have always loved to travel and my husband and I love the National Parks. One summer we quit our jobs in DC prior to a move to Indiana where my husband would attend law school. During that summer we spent a good chunk of time car camping and visiting the National Parks. It was on that trip that we fell in love with the National Parks and made it a goal to visit them all. Now that we have children we want to experience the love for them together.
Do you have any advice for parents who plan to visit the National Parks?
Start taking your children at a young age and don’t be afraid to rough it. Camping with a newborn is an adventure you can talk about for years!
If you had five words to describe Stamp Your Way Through the USA what would they be?
Bears, Discovery, People, Outdoors and Adventure
There are so many bears that are found in parks in the 48 contiguous states and also Alaska. Bears immediately come to my mind when I think about some of the exciting wildlife children can see on their trips. I can’t wait to go to Katmai National Park in Alaska for the bear viewing.
You wrote this book with two other people. How did this come about?
Mary O’Hare is my mother. When I told her about my idea for a National Park stamp book she loved it and we immediately decided to work together. Rose Storey is my aunt and a graphic artist. When the idea was first conceived, she was always the person I wanted to ask to do the illustrations. My mother and I spent a couple of months plotting out the layout and general idea behind the book before we approached my aunt. When we finally asked Rose if she was interested in working with us, she responded yes immediately and within 12 hours she sent us back a draft of the cover page. It was all very exciting.
How was it working with them?
It’s been great! We all had our tasks and encouraged each other with our enthusiasm.
Do you live near each other?
No, so we depended on email, text and occasional conference calls.
What is the experience a child has with a book like this?
Each park in the series is represented by a “Map Facts” page, a “What to Look For” page, an “Interesting Facts” page and the “Interview” page. The what to look for page is a colorful overview of the park with pictures depicting what you can see in a park and interesting facts to provide educational and historical information about what makes each park special. There are so many unique and interesting features of each park it was difficult to limit the number but our goal was to pique the interest of the child but not overwhelm them.
What is the typical reaction of a child to the book?
The children who have visited parks with it really enjoy the interaction with the Park Ranger. It’s a nice icebreaker for the child, especially those that may be intimidated to speak to someone in uniform. All the Park Rangers I have encountered are friendly and really have a great knowledge about “their” park and genuinely enjoy meeting the children so it is a nice experience for the child to interview the Ranger and get their autograph/signature.
What about the Park Rangers?
One Ranger was extremely complimentary about the layout, design and interview page. He felt it is a missing addition to the products already on the market stating that it is eye-catching, educational, easy to use and interactive. Another Park Ranger was extremely attracted to the map page and felt it gave the perfect overview of the park’s location, facts and statistics regarding the park.
What is your favorite park you have visited?
Glacier in Montana. Of the parks I have visited, it is the most awe-inspiring park and it’s no wonder it is nicknamed the “Crown of the Continent.”
What is your most memorable park experience?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband, father and I traveled to Isle Royale. The park is located in Lake Superior and the only way to get to it is by seaplane or ferry boat ride. It is an extremely long journey and we only had 2 nights at the park. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there! We still made the most of our trip by hiking 13 miles in one day. We had some rain coverage from the trees so we could at least enjoy our surroundings.
Final words on Stamp Your Way Through the USA.
Our goal in writing the book was to create a keepsake that a child will treasure for a lifetime. This book provides them with a fun and easy way to chronicle their park visits and is something they can enjoy while the entire family creates lifelong memories of unforgettable park experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Emily.
If you’d like to learn more about the STAMP YOUR WAY series or buy some for upcoming U.S. National Park trips: