Kids to Parks Day 2017: On May 20, get out there and be counted

Add up all the protected areas of the United States — national, state and local parks and more — and you get an area larger than France and Spain combined.

In other words, there are a lot of American parks to explore. Better get started.

Join the seventh annual Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Spend the day doing something Scouts love to do anyway: having fun in a park.

Why am I telling you about Kids to Parks Day three months early? Because now is the time to make a plan. As always, Kids to Parks Day is on a Saturday, offering a perfect chance to plan a trip to a park with your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew.

There are a number of registered Kids to Park Day events, perhaps including one near you. At these events, you and your Scouts can do things like fly a kite, clean up a creek or learn to fish.

If none of those existing events will work, plan and register your own.

About Kids to Parks Day

The Boy Scouts of America — along with the National Park Service, the Sierra Club, the American Hiking Society and others — is a prominent collaborator in the Kids to Parks Day effort, organized by the National Park Trust.

More than 730,000 people participated in the 2016 event. That’s a 21.7 percent increase over the 600,000 participants in 2015. Here’s hoping Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers can send that number even higher in 2017.

The National Park Trust has set its 2017 goal: 900,000 people enjoying Kids to Parks Day across the country.

Five ways to celebrate Kids to Parks Day 2017

1. Pledge to participate

If you’ll take Scouts to a park on May 20, click here to make it official.

Register any event of any size — from two Scouts to 200 or more.

2. Get your free park pass for fourth-graders

They call it Every Kid in a Park. Fourth-grade students and their families get free access to hundreds of parks, lands and waters for a whole year.

Learn more and get your family’s pass here.

3. Try some hiking or camping games

Maybe you’re at a park with some time to spare? Or your Scouts are lagging mid-hike? The National Park Trust has some games to help ramp up energy.

For example, “One-Word Stories”: One person begins a story by saying one word, and then the story is passed on to the next person, and the next, and so on, with each person building to the plot of the story. Since each person can only say one word at a time, the story becomes really silly and fun, and this game allows your kid’s imagination to run wild.

Games like these also work during long car rides. Click here (PDF) to see these “boredom-busters.”

4. Learn from the experts

How do you prepare for a hike with kids? What are the best outdoor snacks for kids? Can you recommend any kid-appropriate park books?

Two experts — Ken Keffer and Stacy Tornio, creators of DestinationNature.net — weigh in on these topics and more.

5. Say hey to Buddy Bison

The National Park Trust’s lovable mascot is Buddy Bison, and he shares a bunch of tips aimed at showing kids how to have fun at parks.

They’re compact, making them easy for kids to digest. Click here for more from Buddy Bison.


Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Keith Christopher for the info.