By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
As we all know, every day is a great day to take kids to a park, but one time each year, the National Park Trust brings attention to the importance of outdoor time with “Kids to Park Day.” This year, Kids to Parks Day is on Saturday, May 21, 2016. This sixth annual celebration promises to be bigger than ever, as the National Park Trust is celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service and the launch of the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which gives all fourth graders in the United States and their families a pass to enjoy all national parks free this year.
So, what happens on Kids to Parks Day? Anything you want! Hike, have a picnic, do a nature walk, go geocaching, go kayaking, explore a battlefield, participate in a ranger program, and more! The goal of Kids to Parks Day is to encourage children to explore the outdoors. It’s 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!
National Park Trust is hoping that 750,000 people will sign up to attend park events across the country in what is fast becoming America’s national day of park celebration. To encourage families to join in, Kids to Parks Day encourages families to take a pledge online. Doing this will also make you eligible to win prizes, including a BabyBjörn Baby Carrier so you can enjoy the outdoors with your little one!
Celebrating Kids to Parks Day is as simple as taking your children to your local park for some fun. But if you want to make it a full day or adventure or find an organized event near you, the Kids to Park Day site provides some great resources. The same page where you sign up includes a search function to find park events near you. Northern Virginia events include:
- Sky Meadows State Park Kids to Parks Day – Enjoy a “life on the farm” program, go hiking, have a picnic, go on a treasure hunt, and more! You can even rent a Junior Ranger backpack or a GPS unit.
- Kids to Parks Day at Mason Neck State Park – Enjoy a hike, nature activities, a family scavenger hunt, and more at this park near Lorton
- Manassas Park Kite Festival – This annual event at Signal Hill Park, 10 am to noon, is a fun chance for you to fly kites on a hill. No kite? No worries – there will be some for sale on site, plus games, crafts, and a moon bounce.
- Kids to Park Day at Leesylvania State Park – Look for pond animals with a ranger during Pond Play, identify animal tracks, help clean up the park, and even get a free pass for a free future visit to any Virginia State Park!
- National Parks Bio Blitz at Manassas Battlefield – Join teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible. This event is on both Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21.
- National Parks BioBlitz at Wolf Trap National Park – see description above
- National Parks BioBlitz at GW Parkway Dyke Marsh – see description above
- National Parks BioBlitz at Prince William Forest State Park – see description above
Details for these events are at the links above, which go to the Kids to Park website (check it often, as more events may be added). The website also has fun, useful, and free downloads, such as a Park Activity Book, a 13-page booklet with a checklist for park must-haves, ideas for activities, a coloring sheet, park clean-up tips, and space for jotting down field notes, doing leaf rubbing, and more. The site has a whole Family Resources section to help you plan your day.
And to help you make any day a “kids to park day,” Fairfax Family Fun has again teamed up with National Park Trust to bring you a fun prize! One winner will receive two National Geographic books: “Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure” and “National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition” (value $25 per set). Enter below!
Win these books!
Fairfax Family Fun is giving away these two books to one lucky subscriber (prize value: $25). To enter, simply:
1. Sign up for our free newsletter at this link (if you haven’t yet done so).
2. Leave a comment below to let us know you entered and what is your favorite park activity!
Enter by 10 pm on Thursday, May 26, 2016. The winner will be picked immediately after that and notified by email. The winner must reply by 10 pm on Friday, May 27, 2016, to claim the prize; failure to do so risks forfeiture. National Geographic will send these books directly to the winner. Contestants agree to abide by our giveaway terms and conditions.
Images provided by National Kids to Parks Day for use in this post