Ahwatukee resident Charlie Binkele and his family have collaborated together to create “Trekking the National Parks,” a board game that focuses on exploring America’s different national parks.
“The idea behind ‘Trekking the National Parks’ was to create a themed board game that would be entertaining, educational, engaging and inspiring,” said Binkele. “We wanted to develop a game that would captivate the interest and enjoyment of those who play it for many years to come, a strategic game with an infinite number of replay possibilities, with the central focus being our country’s 59 major national parks.”
In a combination of Binkele’s design skills as a freelance artist and his parents’ extensive knowledge on the national parks, they created a game that shared the wonder of visiting some of America’s natural wonders.
“My family has been visiting the parks since I was a small child. In 2009, my mom and dad set out to visit all 59 of our country’s major parks. So far, they’ve had the pleasure of trekking about 43 of them!” said Binkele. “A little over a year ago, my father suggested we combine our passion for the parks with my artistic and game design abilities and let others share in experiencing the parks in a fun and competitive way by creating an engaging game centered on these incredible landscapes.”
The game can be played by two to six players and takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, but can be replayed an unlimited amount of times.
“Those who have helped us play-test ‘Trekking the National Parks’ say the game is fun to play, easy to learn and requires strategic and tactical thinking in order to master,” Binkele said.
While “Trekking Our National Parks” is a game, it contains valuable information on America’s national parks and allows players to learn as they compete.
“The educational component of the game is the park guide book that will accompany each game produced,” Binkele said. “The guide book is a collection of photos and facts about each of the 59 major parks represented by the game, so those playing can learn about some of the key features of our national parks.”
The game is in the process of being produced, and there is a Kickstarter campaign in place to raise money toward creating the game on a large scale.
The family plans to make the entirety of the board game in America as it features America’s landmarks. The Binks discovered that having a homegrown game greatly increased the costs, but they decided it would be necessary to make “Trekking the National Parks” high quality.
According to a statement of the Kickstarter page, “Once we decided to go public with the game, we quickly discovered the many hidden costs that are included in the initial print run. Game manufacturers typically do not want to fool around with small print runs (less than 5,000 games), So to help cover a portion of the initial setup and production costs, we are seeking your support to help us bring this project to your family’s game room table!”
Binkele believes that those who play this game will be inspired to go out and explore the national parks and stresses the importance of visiting these landmarks. “Our national parks were established years ago to preserve, protect and allow America’s citizens to visit and enjoy a collection of our country’s greatest natural treasures. Visiting our parks can give one a firsthand understanding and appreciation of the immeasurable value these lands have and why they were set aside for the benefit of all,” he said.
“The game will help you visualize what it’s like to see a couple of grizzlies arguing over a prime fishing spot on Brooks Creek in Katmai National Park or a herd of wild horses galloping across the plains at Theodore Roosevelt National Park,” said Binkele, who added that national parks give visitors an opportunity to reconnect with wildlife in a way that cannot be done by simply visiting a zoo.
“Visiting the parks has given me and my family an immense feeling of gratitude for those who had the foresight to set aside these grand temples for all of us to enjoy. Those who play our game will become exposed to the incredible depth and breadth of opportunity awaiting all who venture out to experience our country’s national parks,” Binkele said.
For more information or to donate toward the “Trekking the National Parks” fundraising campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/charliebink/trekking-the-national-parks-the-board-game.
• Kaitlyn Thompson is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.