I was feeling a bit blue about my kids’ first day of school last week when I had a sudden revelation: I have a fourth grader this year. We can get an Every Kid in a Park pass.
If you have a fourth grader, you can, too.
Okay, so it’s not a revelation that is going to change the course of the universe, but it could change the course of your kid’s life. Maybe. A little bit.
If nothing else it will give your family some new adventures to plan.
What’s an Every Kid in a Park pass?
It’s a program where a whole bunch of federal agencies cooperate to give a free nationwide park pass to every fourth grader in the country. Every single one. Each pass will get your child into 2,000 federally managed sites across the country, along with up to three accompanying adults.
Can any fourth grader participate?
Yep. You don’t have to go to a public school or even a formal school at all; homeschoolers are welcome to participate.
How do you get a pass?
Getting your child’s pass is simple. Just go to everykidinapark.gov with your child and have them complete a short activity. You will be brought to a screen where you can print out a paper pass.
Smaller parks will accept this pass as is. Larger parks may be able to exchange it for a more permanent fourth grade pass card. Either way: don’t lose it!
Is there a way teachers or other educators can encourage Every Kid in a Park?
Yes. The website offers educators–including teachers, scout leaders, homeschool or religious group leaders, or others–a way to do a group learning activity and then print passes for their whole group. It’s a great way to get passes to families who might not have heard about the program.
Why are you so geekily excited about the Every Kid in a Park pass?
I really like this program for a few reasons.
First, it’s just really generous and I like that. While national parks are a bargain for what you get, the price of admission can still be steep for some families. This helps ensure that parks are accessible to all.
Second, it encourages exploration of the outdoors. More specifically, it encourages exploration of smaller federally managed sites that might typically slip below the radar. With free admission, you might feel more free to try a new park or site that you would never visit.
And finally, it puts your kid in the driver’s seat. They are the ones who qualify for the pass. They have to do the activity to get it. They are the key to the whole thing–you can’t use the pass without them. As I’ve learned over and over again, giving kids the responsibility of being in charge gets them excited about getting outside.
So grab your fourth grader and go sign up. Let’s get an Every Kid in a Park pass to, well, every kid.