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Collectively, as a nation, we own millions of acres of public lands.  This includes national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, forests,  mountains, and lakes.  Of course these are not always free and they are not always close.  To me, they tend to hover out there on my “someday list”.  I’d love to visit all the national parks, but that needs to be a year I’m not using vacation time for kids — and yet it needs to be while my kids are still in the wonder years.  We did our big family vacations when I was a toddler and when I was a teenager.  I don’t remember the toddler trips and as a teenager, I only cared about getting home to see my boyfriend and getting to a mall.  (Seriously, I must have been an utter joy to travel with).

How about 4th grade?  Fourth grade is a great year to explore history. It’s an age when they will be old enough to remember, but not too busy with a life of their own yet.

To help engage and create a new generation of park visitors, the National Park Foundation is kicking off the Every Kid in a Park initiative. This coming year, every 4th grade student across the country and their families can experience their public lands and waters in person.  If you are lucky enough to have a child starting the Fourth Grade for the 2015-2016 school year,  BOOKMARK THIS PAGEand sign up for further posts. This could be the year of your family vacations!  Watch for the Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

I don’t think anyone on the FFTC staff has a child in fourth grade next year, so if you sign up and take advantage of this initiative, keep us updated.  Send us family vacation photos.  Tell us which parks you visit and what you thought of them.  We are really excited for anyone who gets to take advantage of this program.

Oh, and before you go, you can download a free Owner’s Guide to the National Parks.  It’s always good to have the Owner’s Guide.

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About the author

Joy Peters

Joy Peters - co-creator and writer for FamilyFunTwinCities.com.

Besides Family Fun Twin Cities, I spend my 9 to 5 at a day job pursuing my weird passion for calendars and organizing things as a legal secretary. When I get home I spend my time with my four kids, 10, 6, 4 and 1. My amazing husband is both a full-time musician and full-time stay-at-home dad. Together we run a small radio empire — SiaNet Radio — playing, promoting and enjoying the wide variety of local music and art in the Twin Cities. I juggle all this while writing about exploring the Twin Cities with kids. I couldn’t be happier.

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