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Fun Outdoors for National Kids to Parks Day

All 36 Virginia State Parks are offering special programming and events for
National Kids to Parks Day, Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kids enjoy a program at York River State Park
Kids participate in a program at York River State Park

Sponsored by the National Parks Trust, National Kids to Parks Day helps promote awareness for the need to get children and families out to parks to explore and enjoy the natural world.

Scientific studies continue to support  the many positive physical and mental health benefits of connecting children to nature and the problems caused by children not spending enough time in nature.  I have written many articles about the need for children (and adults) to spend more time outdoors but I saw this video the other day and decided it did an excellent job of summarizing all the issues.

Can you believe that? Children spend 90 percent of their time indoors and more than six hours in front of a screen? I have heard it said that our children may represent the first generation that will not live longer than its parents. Having grown up playing outside and in nature, it saddens me to think of all the FUN they're missing!

Kids get ready for a hike at the first National Kids to Parks Day at Mason Neck State Park in 2011
Kids get ready for a hike at the first National Kids to Parks Day
at Mason Neck State Park in 2011

Mason Neck State Park was one of the pilot locations for the first National Kids to Parks Day in 2011. Now all of our parks offer a day of guided and self-guided opportunities to get outdoors. A complete list of programs and events scheduled for National Kids to Parks Day can be found here. Some of the activities require pre-registration with the park or additional fees in addition to our daily per car parking fee.

While all of our parks are offering special programming, some of the more notable offerings include:

Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield will be offering a full day of activities featuring a number of our recreation partners including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries‘ float fishing school, a guided children’s bicycle trail ride conducted by the Friends of Pocahontas State Park, and a program on Birds of Prey provided by Maymont Park.

Staunton River State Park in Halifax County is featuring a canoeing essential program, a wildlife tracks identification program, and a hands on program using a compass to find Captain Staunton’s cache. Become a Certified Junior Ranger at Twin Lakes State Park near Farmville by enjoying canoeing, hiking, geocaching, fishing, archery and more.

Attend Southwest Virginia Museum’s premier outdoor music event Gathering at the Gap and enjoy the special kids area for crafts and workshops throughout the day. Children 12 and under get in free for this event. Spend the day at Westmoreland State Park in Montross identifying native animals by fur, tracks and scat, searching for fossils and then make a necklace from your shark’s tooth find (or buy a tooth from us), and then end the day with s’mores and a campfire program.

Flat water is a great place to learn kayaking
Flat water is a great place to learn kayaking

If you have always wanted to go fishing but don’t have any experience or equipment, you will want to sign up for False Cape State Park’s program. False Cape State Park is located in Virginia Beach and half the fun is getting there since you ride from Sandbridge through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to the pristine mostly undeveloped park on the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay.

Start your visit with a hayride to explore the park at Occoneechee in Clarksville and plan where you will go exploring for the day. Caledon State Park in King George will also offer a hayride along with a kayaking program, fossil hunting, and an evening owl prowl.

Enhance your visit with an overnight stay in a cabin or campsite in our parks with overnight accommodations. Book online or call our Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on National Kids to Parks Day and to search for programs and events outside of Virginia, visit the National Park Trust website.

Published: 05/06/2014

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