When did you first discover a love of the outdoors? For many of us, we first got attached to the outdoors as kids, when a family member, friend, or summer camp got us out on America’s public lands. And research shows that ensuring kids have access to “wild nature” activities before age 11 makes them likely to care for the environment as an adult. There is a powerful connection between the experiences we have outside and our desire to protect those places for ourselves and future generations.
This week, the National Park Service launched an initiative designed to inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards of our public lands. Every Kid in a Park provides a free park pass to all fourth graders and their families to access to any national park, national forest, refuge or BLM land.
With the Centennial of the Park Service on the horizon, this program is a major investment in the next 100 years of National Parks because it inspires the next generation to get outside and enjoy America’s public lands. And the good news for those of us who are a few years away from having a fourth grader? The program is designed to continue every year. In 12 years, this means that every school-age child in the U.S. will have had the opportunity to visit our public lands for free.
Many of today’s fiercest advocates for public lands were inspired by experiences they had outside at an early age. Every Kid in a Park is not just about getting today’s kids outside, but about inspiring the next generation of stewards and conservationists to protect our shared lands and waters.
Learn more at everykidinapark.gov and Outdoor Alliance.
Visit the ACA Stewardship Initiatives website to read about a few of the ways that ACA staff, Paddle America Clubs, and volunteers across the country are working on behalf of all paddlers.