Published: April 1, 2022
Blue Star Families Partners with Kids in Parks, Giving You Yet Another Reason to Get Outside
When was the last time you intentionally got outside as a family?
As a parent, it’s easy to get wrapped up in everyday life and finding a way to fill the time that you “forget” about an excellent resource right outside your door – the outdoors. But there’s more to it than a simple solution to reducing screen time while keeping the kids preoccupied. Catching some fresh air can do wonders – mentally and physically – for both adults and children.
For military-connected families, in particular, the challenges of the lifestyle—the deployments, frequent moves, and overall unpredictability—all serve as major stressors on service members and their dependents. And those frequent moves can impact belonging and quality of life; just 30% of active-duty family respondents to the 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey feel a sense of belonging to their local civilian community.
Amid the unpredictability and uprooting, one thing never wavers: the outdoors. Spending time outside can reconnect you to nature, your family, and your community; new or old. Not only that, but research has also unearthed benefits of taking in the fresh air. Here are some to name a few:
- Reduced stress
- More positive emotions
- Better medical outcomes
- Improved performance on cognitive tasks
- Enhanced creativity
So, all that to say, are you looking for inspiration and ways to get involved outdoors? At Blue Star Families, we’re committed to offering engaging and enriching outdoor activities within our nation’s neighborhood and national parks through the Blue Star Outdoors Program. And that work wouldn’t be possible without Blue Star Partners that provide a variety of activity ideas to encourage a healthy relationship with the outdoors from a young age.
That’s why the decision to join forces with a new Blue Star Partner – Kids in Parks – seemed like an obvious one! This strategic partnership will offer more opportunities and resources to invite more kids into the outdoors through the organization’s e-adventures, TRACK trails, and backyard exploration activities. And we could think of no better time to announce it than April – Month of the Military Child – as an opportunity to celebrate military kids and their resilience by encouraging a love of the outdoors from an early age.
“Every military-connected family deserves to find connection in the outdoors,” said Nicole Rawlinson, Blue Star Outdoors DEPLOY Fellow. “That is why we are invested in developing a suite of outdoor programming that is diverse, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of our community. Through this new relationship with Kids in Parks we are expanding these resources to our families and inviting them to the outdoors, meeting them where it feels comfortable.”
In 2008, Kids in Parks started with a vision to improve the health of children and the health of our parks by making existing trails more attractive and fun for novice users. Today, the organization offers an expanding network of 230 family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails in 15 states. These trails include hiking trails, biking trails, geocaching trails, paddling trails, nature trail disc golf courses, and even adventures you can do in your own backyard – inspiring kids and families to be more physically active outdoors. Plus, the Kids in Parks website offers e-adventures for exploring anywhere you live across the country, and you can track your adventures for the chance to earn prizes designed to help you have more fun on your next outing!
“We are honored to help support military families through our partnership with Blue Star Families and its national network of chapters,” said Jason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks. “Our goal is to create meaningful connections to nature through outdoor recreation activities completed on bases, in military communities, and at official TRACK Trail locations. Together, we can improve the physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive health of kids and families through shared time together in nature.”
Now, more entry points to accessing the outdoors are at your fingertips – giving you yet another reason to experience the benefits and connections as a family through intentional time spent outside. Learn how you can take advantage of Kids in Parks resources through the Blue Star Outdoors Program by visiting https://bluestarfam.org/outdoor-explorers-family-activities/.