How to make your own NPOTA activator notebook:
Throughout the year as I have been activating National Parks, I have found it is helpful to have all my NPOTA designator data and NPS handouts organized in an easy to access format.
One (1) 3-ring binder
One (1) packet of 8.5” x 11” clear top loading sheet protectors
One (1) vacuum sealer or equivalent heating bar
NPOTA designator print outs of the states you will be activating in
NPS Maps of Parks you have visited
One (1) NPOTA Bumper Sticker
Gather all your materials, kick your wife or husband out of the kitchen and let’s get busy!
One of the biggest challenges I found once I started activating parks was what to do with the park maps/brochures. Now to be clear, I am not a hoarder of “things”, in fact I am quite the opposite. I collect experiences, not stuff. With that being said, I do enjoy collecting the NPS maps and reading the history about each site.
So how do I store these oddly shaped park brochures?
Originally I stored them in clear sheet protectors but they had a tendency to shift around. Giving it some thought I decided to use my old school 1980’s vacuum sealer Food Saver to create a sealed divided vertical line in each sheet to create custom pockets for each NPS map.
Heres how I did it:
- I folded the protector sheet in half lengthwise. I marked each end with a permanent marker to indicate the center.
2. Then using the Food saver I used the sealing bar to melt the center of the sheet lengthwise. Depending on your machine and heat settings, it may take anywhere from 2-5 seconds to properly melt the seam needed. You will have to play around with the time to find the right heat setting. For my machine it was around 4 seconds.
Note: You need to find the exact center and seal it correctly. If you are off 1/2” or so one pocket will be too big and the other too small. You will have to do a couple to get the hang of it. I messed up two of them, before getting it correct.
3. Now that you have created your new custom NPS map pockets, load up your notebook with all your maps.
4. Add NPOTA designator sheets for each state that you will be operating in. These sheets come in handy if you find yourself at parks that have no cell reception making it difficult to look up the designators.
**Be sure to include a “cheat sheet” of desigators for parks that you visit often saving yourself time having to look them up individually.
**NPOTA sign that I hang on the my car thanks to my good friend Jay, NS4J!
6. For the finishing touch, add a NPOTA sticker to the front of the notebook giving it that sauve activator battle tested look.
*I did have to trim it down to fit the notebook width.