Adira Punekar Discovers Love of Hiking While Visiting National Parks
Adira Punekar is only 6 years old, but the Miss Helen’s Private School kindergartener is an avid hiker who has already earned several National Park Service Junior Ranger badges. The U.S. National Park Service invites kids to complete some fun activities while visiting the parks, answer questions with the rangers and recite a pledge to earn a badge. Kids can even visit parks virtually and fill out activity books online at nps.gov. Adira discovered her love of hiking while visiting national parks with her family.
TK: What is the best part about going on hikes?
Adira: The best part about hiking is that I get to see beautiful nature. Some places have different colored rocks, big valleys, and some places have sand. I also like that we get to see wildlife and squirrels. My dad says you cannot feed them anything from your pocket. I enjoy climbing different rocks. Sometimes, I use my binoculars to watch birds in the jungle.
TK: What is the hardest part about hiking?
Adira: Sometimes a few hikes are very steep. If we do not have enough snacks and water, then it becomes tiresome. I sing songs with my mumma when hikes get harder.
TK: Who do you hike with?
Adira: I love to go hiking with my family. My little sister also hiked with me at most of the parks last year. I like to go with my friends for nearby hikes.
TK: What places have you been? Do you have a favorite? Why?
Adira: I started hiking when we went on our family trip to Hawaii in 2021. I hiked through Haleakalā National Park and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
In August 2022, we went on a big trip throughout six national parks in Colorado and Utah. I quite enjoyed Arches National Park. There were some amazing arches and landscapes there. We stayed there to watch the Milky Way at night. It was a very unique experience. We got to see beautiful waterfalls and lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.
My favorite place among all is Hawaii. I would like to go there every year for hiking. I feel there is magic in the air at Hawaii. I never got tired while hiking there.
TK: Can you tell me about the Junior Ranger badges? What did you do to earn those?
Adira: To earn a Junior Ranger badge, I completed the books that were given by National Park Services. Each book had information about the national park, the different types of plants that we found there and different animals. I had to complete some puzzles and games based on those. Once I completed those, I took them to park rangers. The park rangers recited the pledge to protect the parks and nature with me. That’s how I received each of my Junior Ranger badges. I have four so far.
TK: Do you and your family have any plans on where you will go next?
Adira: We might go to India this year. I am excited about it. India has beautiful weather all year round. I am ready to explore new places in India.
TK: Do you hike at any places nearby? If so, where do you like to go?
Adira: When we are in Tulsa, I like to go to Gathering Place, Ray Harral Nature Park and Oxley Nature Center. We have also been to Turkey Mountain. It has very nice trails.
TK: Besides hiking, what other things do you like to do?
Adira: I love dancing and gymnastics. I am learning an Indian classical dance called Bharatnatyam with Priya aunty (my dance guru). I have received two trophies so far for my dance performances on stage. I do enjoy making a lot of arts and crafts with my mom. I always try new things and then decide what brings me the most fun.
TK: Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Adira: Umm… this is a really fun question. I can speak two languages, and I am learning the third one at school. I have been fortunate to travel to six countries so far. My parents love to travel and try different cuisines from all around the world.