By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
This is a great weekend to head outdoors! Why? The seventh annual Kids to Parks Day takes place this Satuday, May 20, 2017! This is a great occasion to head out to local and national parks all over the United States. The goal of this annual celebration, sponsored by the National Park Trust, is to encourage everyone, but especially children, to get outside and enjoy nature. We have all the details on this fun celebration — and a chance to win great prizes!
Last year, there were more than 750,000 Kids to Parks Day participants. This year, the goal is to get 900,000 kids to parks. Many agree this is a good idea: Kids to Parks Day has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Environmental Education Foundation, National Geographic Kids, National Recreation and Parks Association, and many more national partners. A new sponsor of the national celebration this year is Northside, a shoe company that encourages everyone to explore the outdoors.
Northside makes it clear that the great outdoors is not just for “thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies” but for people of all ages and capabilities. To encourage families to get outdoors, Northside provides high-quality footwear to fit anyone’s budget. You don’t need expensive or elaborate gear to enjoy fun outdoors, which should be accessible to everyone.
To encourage Fairfax Family Fun readers to enjoy Kids to Parks Day — and to keep the fun and exploration going beyond that date — the company is giving one of YOU a free pair of its great shoes! Northside has a nice variety of shoes that help all family members, from toddlers to grandmas, enjoy outdoor play. See the end of this post to learn how you can make your summer memorable (and comfortable!) with a pair of your choice.
Now, how do you celebrate Kids to Parks Day? Any way you like! The goal is to have fun and explore, whether that is going on a nature walk or vigorous hike, getting out on the water, enjoying a picnic, or more. In Northern Virignia, we have plenty of parks, including some where you can go geocaching, go kayaking, play disc golf, enjoy boat rentals, and more. At national parks, of course, you also can explore a battlefield or participate in a ranger program.
It’s all about having fun and maybe learning a thing or two: Kids to Parks Day, after all, is the signature event of National Park Trust’s popular Buddy Bison School Program which teaches environmental education. You may often find Buddy Bison (the organization’s mascot) traveling around! Find Kids to Parks Day events online!
Northern Virginia events include:
- Sky Meadows State Park Kids to Parks Day – Enjoy Junior Ranger activities, geocaching, the new Children’s Discovery Area, and more, including Explorer Outpost, an up-and-coming outdoor classroom and trail designed for family adventure. Events take place 11 am to 3 pm.
- Eagle Festival at Mason Neck State Park – Friends of Mason Neck State Park and the park staff celebrate its native eagles with day full of live animal shows, activities, music, food and more. Expanded hours (10 am to 6 pm) and free admission mean you and your family have plenty of time to experience it all.
- Kids to Parks Day at Leesylvania State Park – Bring the kids to Leesylvania State Park for an afternoon of fun and adventure. You start off with stumping a ranger and asking all the questions that you have been wanting to ask, look for pond animals with a ranger during Pond Play, and check out what osprey are up to.
- Kids to Parks Day at Shenandoah National Park – Shenandoah will work with The Wildlife Center of Virginia, to bring kids up close and personal with the wildlife of Shenandoah, at the Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51)and Dickey Ridge (mile 4.6) Visitor Centers.
You can find many more events on the National Kids to Parks Day website, which also has fun, useful, educational downloads, such as a Park Activity Book, all free. The site has a whole Family Resources section to help you plan your day. Also, if you register online (just pledge to join in on Kids to Parks Day) you may win a cool prizes including a special camping package from The North Face (4 sleeping bags, tent, and duffel bag). We also have additional prizes from CamelBak (family hydration pack), Eastern National (Jr. Ranger package including an annual park pass), and National Geographic (kids park and nature books).
Win a pair of great Northside shoes!
Don’t forget! Fairfax Family Fun is teaming up with Northside Shoes to give away one pair of outdoor footwear to one lucky winner! To enter, simply comment below and let us know how you enjoy the outdoors!
Enter by 10 pm on Thursday, May 25, 2017. The winner will be picked immediately after that and notified by email. The winner must reply by 10 pm on Friday, May 26, 2017, to claim the prize; failure to do so risks forfeiture. The winner will receive a code to place a complimentary order for a pair of shoes of his or her choice, and the item will be mailed directly by Northside Shoes within a week or so. All persons who enter this giveaway agree to abide by our giveaway terms and conditions.
Images provided by National Kids to Parks Day and Northside for use in this post, (c) original owners