Celebrating ‘Kids to Parks Day’ in style

by Matt Villano

Celebrating ‘Kids to Parks Day’ in style

May 19 is National Kids to Parks Day. That means it’s time to get your kids away from the iPads and force ‘em to spend some quality time outside.

You don’t need to read Richard Louv’s iconic book, “Last Child in the Woods,” to grasp the notion that our kids are losing touch with the outside world.

In general, attendance at America’s parks and forests has declined steadily each year since the late 1980s. Between iPads and iPods, televisions and mobile telephones, it’s a wonder many kids even know what dandelions are anymore. (They’re those yellow flowers sprouting in your lawn. Just saying.)

Later this month, however—on May 19, to be exact—families have a great opportunity to reverse this disturbing trend: the second-annual National Kids to Parks Day.

The day, sponsored by the National Park Trust, is designed to inspire families to get out and experience America’s state and national parks, as well as the nation’s wildlife refuges, forests, monuments. Since most of these destinations are located some distance from major population centers, it’s a perfect celebration around which to build an impromptu family trip.

As part of the shindig, officials have planned local events at more than 200 parks across the nation. These programs range from interpretive hikes to themed festivals (such as the Fairy & Pirate Festival at Turkey Brook Park in New Jersey).

The mascot for the day: Buddy Bison, of course.

A number of outlets also have published fun guidebooks in conjunction with the big celebration.

National Geographic Kids, for instance, recently came out with Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A., an informative read, as well as a special parks app to be used on those aforementioned iPads (in case you simply can’t let ‘em go).

What’s more, Erin McHugh, an author based in New York, has put together a fun guidebook of a different kind. Titled, “National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments, and Landmarks,” the book covers at least one park in every state, and includes original artwork, off-beat facts, and quotes from famous outdoors-loving celebrities and other historical figures.

With resources like these, there’s almost no excuse for skipping out on the festivities May 19. Plan your trips accordingly. And show Louv we can reverse the trends.