Dozens of members of the club, hailing from almost every state in the union, gathered at the park at 6 p.m. on Saturday to share a meal, share stories, get to know each other and play games.
The club provides networking opportunities for visitors to America’s National Park System and collectors of “Passport to Your National Parks” stamps. It has over 1,200 members, including 26 who have achieved Platinum status by collecting cancellation stamps from all National Park units.
At this year’s convention five members were awarded Platinum status, including Corinth resident Woody Harrell, the longtime superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park.
One of the picnic participants was NPTC founding member and Platinum traveler Nancy Bandley of Irvine, Calif. She has been with the club since its inception back in 2004, at the second meeting of a group of National Parks enthusiasts. The club has grown considerably since that first meeting of 14 like-minded individuals.
While in the area before the picnic, members of the club visited the site of the Battle of Tupelo, the Natchez Trace Visitors Center, the Parker’s Crossroads and Davis Bridge battlefields in Tennessee and the Brice’s Crossroads battlefield.
“It was terrific. Everybody said it was terrific,” said Bandley. It was the fifth time for Bandley to visit Corinth.
While the picnic dinner was being served under the city park pavilion, members of the club played a game to get to know each other — a scavenger hunt. Members had to find those present who met certain requirements, such as earning the Bronze Master Traveler Award for 2012 or someone who is attending their first NPTC convention.
Debbie Roberts from Reno, Nev., had just completed her quest to visit all of the parks in the “lower 48.” She had visited 13 parks on her current trip. Roberts said it’s all about the challenge and seeing different places.
“Each park is so different,” she said. “People ask me if I get tired of seeing Civil War sites, but it’s not just Civil War battle sites, it’s different parts of the Civil War. And some parks are more about the natural beauty.”
For Marietta Pritchard it’s all about learning the history. Pritchard and her husband Gary, another dedicated club member, hail from Huntsville, Ala., and were among the club members who were not far from home in Corinth.
“It’s really a way to learn about history,” said Marietta. “When you see something and visit a place it sticks with you more than if you learned it in class or from a book.”