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Getting Kids Excited About the Great Outdoors

by Marisa Langford
Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve - NPS Photo / Dawn Kish

Our national parks are incredible classrooms and they belong to all of us. Field trips, be they in person or virtual, provide students with a sense of adventure and inspire a sense of wonder at the world around us. That’s why the National Park Foundation (NPF) and partner GoGo squeeZ have teamed up to provide field trip opportunities to connect kids to our national parks through NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids program.

Already, the program has connected more than 1 million kids to our national parks through experiences that promote physical and emotional health, civic engagement, and a long-term appreciation for nature. And thanks to Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning grants, an extension of the program, parks are piloting innovative distance learning techniques to connect students, teachers, and families to the resources in our parks. Together, NPF and partners like GoGo squeeZ are working to get another million kids connected to the parks by 2024!

Kids with a Ranger
Open OutDoors for Kids field trip to Olympic National Park (NPF Photo / Dawn Kish)

Inspired by Open OutDoors for Kids? Check out our tips for getting your kids excited about our parks and the great outdoors:

  • Explore parks close to home. Traveling with kids can be hard, but there are parks right in your backyard waiting to be explored – from canoeing to historic tours, there’s something for everyone! Use our park finder to find parks near you or start with our guide to stroller-friendly parks.
A young park visitor treads lightly at the edge of a small creek
A young park visitor treads lightly at the edge of a small creek (GoGo squeeZ)
  • Enjoy a fee-free day in a park. Held throughout the year, fee-free days are a great way to discover a new park.
  • Visit a park virtually. You can’t always visit a park in person. Take inspiration from our Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning grants and take a virtual visit to a park.
  • Try a new activity as a family in a park. There are so many ways to enjoy our parks. Whether you’re sledding down a sand dune or seeking out a geocache, make memories that will last when you do a new park activity together.
  • Become a Junior Ranger. No matter the age of the park enthusiast, there is a Junior Ranger badge waiting for you. Complete a series of activities to learn more about a park – there are even ways to earn your badge virtually!
  • Have a 4th grader? Check out the Every Kid Outdoors pass. The pass is free for 4th graders, providing the student and their family free access to parks for the school year.

And when you’re heading out on your next park adventure, don’t forget to pack healthy and delicious snacks like GoGo squeeZ applesauce or their new AlmondBlend Pudding – both are nutritious and delicious snacks that fit easily into your pack, making them an easy on-the-go treat to fuel your family’s park adventures.

Schools and community organizations looking to participate in Open OutDoors for Kids can learn more about and apply for opportunities with NPF here. Applications for the upcoming school year typically open in the summer.

Marisa Langford is a GoGo squeeZ employee, national park explorer, and mom to four.