Kids to Parks Day 2018

Three Free Ways to Get Outside

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     As theologian and “The Dream of the Earth” author Thomas Berry once said, “Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”  

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     Not only does being outside help kids blow off steam, it also helps improve their physical fitness and increases Vitamin D levels, helping reduce chances of bone problems, heart disease and other health issues. According to the National Wildlife Federation, exposure to natural settings also increases student performance on test scores and reduces stress, among other long-term benefits.

     And what better way to begin reaping those benefits than participating in the National Park Trust's Kids to Parks (KTP) Day? Set for Sat., May 19, 2018, the annual KTP Day is a national day of outdoor play that will take place at local and national parks all over the U.S. So far, more than 900,000 participants have sign up so far this year. See below how you can join and become registered for fun prizes including a camping package from The North Face. 

     With that in mind, here are three FREE ideas for your family to enjoy nature. And don’t forget to take the KTP Day pledge to get your family involved in the outdoor fun on Sat., May 19, 2018!

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1.     Go geocaching. Take your kids outside for a real-life “treasure” hunt! A recreational activity that involves searching for and finding hidden objects by means of GPS coordinates, families can search from them in practically every town’s main street and natural areas, both locally and worldwide. In fact, on a recent family trip to Iceland, my two boys literally stumbled across a geocache tucked amid some rocks along the waterway in the cosmopolitan capital of Reykjavik! With access to tons of free apps and sites via smart phone, the possibilities are endless. For ideas on getting started, check out www.geocaching.com.

2.     Visit a national park on a free day. The National Park Service typically offers fee-free days throughout the calendar year, making more than 400 parks—including all 118 National Parks—accessible to outdoor lovers. And during April’s National Park Week, the parks are free to visitors the weekends of April 15-16 and 22-23, so get out there! For more information, visit www.nps.gov.

3.     Start your own hiking club. If you’d like to commit to more than just a day or two, perhaps gathering a group of like-minded families for monthly hikes is more your style. Perhaps that means just inviting families from your kids’ school for a local hike or reaching out to your community to create a larger group. Need inspiration? Check out UNPLUGGED: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family, author Jason Runkel Sperling’s guide to organizing what he describes as a “family nature club.” Visit here for more information.

Register here to participate on Kids to Parks Day and be entered to win a camping package from The North Face, hiking boots from Northside USA, a Jr. Ranger package from Eastern National, or a Year of the Bird package from National Geographic! 

Check out these FREE RESOURCES to enhance your KTP fun!