“Every Kid In A Park” program aims to get kids out-of-doors

I travel quite a bit. In fact, while looking at my extensive field photos from 2013, I wondered how my marriage survived. When people hear about how much I travel, many will lament that they would like to get out of the country some day. The first question I ask is, “Do you have a passport?”

Most of the time the answer is no and I advise them to apply immediately. Travel takes planning, and it’s easy to get in the mindset of, “Well, I don’t have the passport now, so I’ll hold off.” Once you have the passport, it’s astounding how quickly international travel happens.

Much the same way, having a National Park Pass makes a big difference when thinking about how to spend summer vacation. Will it be at a local cabin or a trip west to visit national park sites like Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon and Arches National Park? Many federal lands require an entrance fee. If you are planning a longer trip to visit several parks, it makes sense to get an Annual Pass, which for $80 will get you into any federal sites that charge a fee, including the National Park System, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps sites, and National Wildlife Refuges. 

Take advantage of Every Kid In A Park to get your kids a view of Grand Canyon National Park.This year, as part of the ramping up to the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, the federal government has issued a new pass just for fourth graders. And this pass is free. That’s right, you read that correctly. If you have a fourth grader or a home school child 10 years of age, they are eligible to a special pass called "Every Kid In A Park."  All the kids have to do is visit www.everykidinapark.gov and in a few clicks, you’ll receive a voucher to print. 

Once printed, parents can take their kid to any federal lands that distribute park passes and exchange the voucher for an official pass. A couple of examples in the Twin Cities metro area include the Mississippi River Visitor Center  n the lobby of the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul or the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge near the airport in Bloomington. Full disclosure, I work as a park ranger at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area so if you stop into the Science Museum, you could see me there. 

But once that child picks up their pass, they and anyone with them can have free access to national parks that charge fees until the end of August next year. It’s like having a passport. If they get the pass now, that’s plenty of time to plan trips to Yosemite, Devil’s Tower, Acadia, Glacier, Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota, or even the Statue of Liberty in New York. The pass provides the fourth-grader and whoever is in the car with them free entry. How cool is that? 

Check out the website and see if you can obtain your child their pass and bring them into some of our spectacular national parks. 

Categories: Blogs, Sharon Stiteler, Social Media

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