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If you’re like most parents, you’re always looking for how to travel cheaply with kids. You work hard enough as it is. Think about all the hours you’ve spent raising your kids. All the sleepless nights, cleaning of messes, making lunches, driving to school, picking up from playdates, helping with homework. I mean, just the amount of time I’ve spent searching for my daughter’s stuffed animals lost indoors and outdoors, makes up a significantly measurable amount of my entire life–and she’s only 7.
Well, it’s payback time. It’s time your kid starts paying their own way. And if yours is a 4th grader, they can start by getting your family into any park across America for free. That’s right. Thanks to a program called Every Kid In A Park, put into place by President Barack Obama and Michele Obama, your 4th grader can cover your entry fee into 1000s of parks nationwide.
The pass is for U.S. fourth-grade (or home-school equivalent) students.The pass is for the 2016 to 2017 school year. It expires August 31, 2017, so you better get going. If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person— The pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free. If your group visits a site that charges vehicle entrance fees – The pass admits all children under 16 and all adults in up to one passenger vehicle. The pass doesn’t cover things like parking fees, camping, boats, and special tours. Also, some sites are managed by private operators. They may not honor the pass. Check with the site ahead of time to find out.
For complete rules, visit here >
For help planning your next family adventure, visit here >
Now, you might have noticed that the expiration date says 8/31/17. Well, don’t sweat it too much. The National Park Service just announced that Every Kid In A Park will be extended at least one more year through 2018. That simply means you’ll just have to come back to the program’s website after August 31st and print out a new pass for your 4th grader.
America’s public lands are open to us all. Exposing your kids to our incredible natural wonders is good for them mentally and physically, and will inspire them to become caretakers of the planet, ensuring these lands are protected for future generations.
Kids spend up to 6.5 hours every day in front of a screen, so it’s more important than ever to introduce them to the natural world and get them outside. Not only does it give you a chance to actually have a conversation with your kid, but spending time outdoors has been shown to improve mental and physical health, as well as academic performance.
There is a bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act bouncing around Congress right now, versions of which were recently introduced by Sens Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Reps Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). If passed, it would make the Every Kid in a Park program a permanent benefit for all families with 4th graders. Congress should act now on that bill and direct the National Park Service and other federal land management agencies to continuing providing park passes to fourth graders and their families. Write to your Congressman if you agree. And in the meantime, get outside and enjoy a park.
Looking for more ways to travel cheaply with kids? Keep your kids fueled up and having fun with these Dadventure Kits >
Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.