By Michelle C.D. Roberts
“A lot of people don’t have the adventures that I had when I was a kid,” explained Priscilla Geigis.
Geigis, 51, and her sister, Deb, grew up in Stoughton, and spent every summer travelling with their parents across the country to state and national parks. Their father, a minister at the First Congregational Church in Stoughton for 25 years, and their mother, a first-grade teacher at the Hanson Elementary School for 24 years, would hitch up their tent trailer every summer and take their daughters on an adventure. One summer, the family drove all the way from Stoughton to Alaska. By the time Geigis was 13, she already had gone to several parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
Geigis’ parents grew up in Boston, and had not been exposed to camping, but wanted to give their daughters an adventure. To pass the time in the car as they travelled every summer, the two sisters would write in their travel journals about their experiences. They also would put on a radio show using a tape recorder where Deb pretended to be the show’s host and Priscilla pretended to be a park ranger.
It was that travel experience that led Geigis, now a Watertown resident, to a career working for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as the director of Massparks. The Massachusetts DCR’s park system encompasses 350,000 acres that Geigis and her team manage, which includes beaches and mountaintops, campgrounds and trails. Having served for 12 years, she is responsible for enhancing the visitor experience, which involves ensuring that visitors learn about the natural and cultural resources of the parks, partake in recreational activities, and foster a sense of shared stewardship. In addition to her regular duties, Geigis also was president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) for three years, and continues to serve as a board member.