April 16, 2019
I don’t want to jinx it for us all, but it seems as if spring weather is here to stay for much of the country. And after the kind of winter we just had, I’m sure you’re eager to spend as much spare time your family has in the great outdoors. Am I right?
I thought so. Lucky for you, there’s a nationwide celebration around the corner that’ll encourage you to do exactly that. Yes, I’m talking about the ninth annual Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 18!
This day of dedicated outdoor play—organized by our partner National Park Trust—is all about encouraging your family to set out to explore the local, state, and national parks in your own backyard. And by doing so, your MilKids will learn more STEM and history, while embracing their very important role as park stewards.
Now, you’re probably wondering how you can celebrate this special day. Not to worry as I’m sharing Blue Star Families’ favorite (and free!) ways you can make the most of this year’s Kids to Parks Day with your family.
- Access a national park with an America the Beautiful pass.
Did you know that your military family can explore Blue Star Parks for free with an annual America the Beautiful pass? It’s the U.S. National Park Service’s way of saying thank you to our country’s current military members and their families in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as Reserve and National Guard.
If you haven’t already gotten your hands on a pass, you can do so in person at a federal recreation site near your current duty station (or as you’re passing through on your upcoming PCS journey!). Simply show your Common Access Card (CAC) or a military ID, and you’ll be well on your way to revel in America’s natural beauty.
- Embark on a nature scavenger hunt.
If you’re ready to liven up your next trek through a park near you, this activity is calling your name. A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to get the entire family involved while staying active! Not so sure where to start? There are plenty of ready-made scavenger hunt lists on the Internet, which you can print and take along with you. And as you find each item, consider taking a family selfie with it instead of collecting it! Post your pic to social media, tagging #BlueStarSummer so we can share in the fun.
- Go for a family-friendly hike.
Lace up your tennis shoes and corral the family for a hike! Be sure to select one that isn’t too long and offers some standout features (like a stream or lake), so you can keep the little ones interested while truly savoring the entire experience—from start to finish. Oh, and don’t forget to dress appropriately and pack a backpack of essential supplies! Wet wipes, sunscreen, binoculars or magnifying glasses, snacks for an energy break, and field guides will be your best friends.
- Practice the hobby of geocaching.
Dream of going on a real-world treasure hunt that gives you a closer look into a park near you? Go geocaching! Before you do, prep for success by downloading the official Geocaching® app (it’s free!) onto your mobile device. From there, you can begin your search for physical and virtual geocaches by your location, map, name, or code.
Keep in mind, however, that many national parks prohibit this particular activity to protect fragile environments and historical and cultural areas. If you find a park that does participate, be sure to check the park page for specific rules before beginning your fun adventure.
- Pack a picnic & sit in nature.
You can never be too young or old for a picnic in the park. Pack some sandwiches, chips, and snacks like fruits and veggies in your backpack so you can find a good spot along your hike to enjoy a lunch with a view.
Here’s a bonus tip – if you’re heading to a park with a lake or pond, bring some extra goodies (like cut seedless grapes or lettuce), so you and the kids can safely feed the ducks and other wildlife.
- Attend a National Kids to Parks Day event in your neighborhood.
Are you looking for even more free family fun in the great outdoors? Your community just might be hosting an event specifically for Kids to Parks Day! Some might require a small fee (or free for the MilKids in your group). But the activities are endless—from canoeing to fishing, archery, kite flying, rock climbing, and so much more, your kiddos will learn more about the environment that surrounds them.
Find a Park Near You & Get Ready to Celebrate with Your #MilFam!
This year, we’ve partnered with National Park Trust, thanks to the support of the National Parks Service, to build an iPhone and Android app called ParkPassport. It launches in May, and will help your family find your closest park, and allow you the chance to collect virtual
passport stamps from national, state, and local parks across the country.
To be notified as soon as it’s available for download, become a member of Blue Star Families today!