get outside for free-Kids to Parks 2017

three free tips for getting outside to Celebrate the National Park Trust's initiative on Sat., May 20, 2017

Photo courtesy of Kids to Parks Day, National Park Trust

Photo courtesy of Kids to Parks Day, National Park Trust

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.”  

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 20, 2017, the 7th annual KTP Day is a national day of outdoor play that will take place at local and national parks all over the U.S. Boasting more than 750,000 participants last year, this year’s goal is to reach 900,000.

Sponsored in part by Northside USA shoes, the company’s philosophy is that families don’t need to buy elaborate, expensive gear to get outside—that the outdoors should be accessible to everyone. (See below how you can win a pair of Northside USA shoes.)

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 May 20, 2017!

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

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

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.” Click here for more information.

Check out these other great “Kids to Parks” resources for other ideas on getting your family outdoors (and enter their giveaways!):

Take the KTP Pledge for a chance to win a pair of Northside USA shoes!


Join the KTP Day movement to encourage children across the country to explore their neighborhood parks and discover science, history, nature, and adventure right around the corner or just across town. You just need to:

1.     Take the pledge here. Registrants will automatically receive a coupon for 25-percent off one pair of Northside USA shoes, in addition to being entered to win other terrific prizes.

2.     E-mail me at with the subject line: I took the pledge!

3.     Automatically become eligible to win one pair of any Northside USA shoes for anyone in your family! (Winner will be notified after May 20, 2017.)