FREE Pass for Every Kid Outdoors

By Diane Hernandez

Dear Diary — I loved the outdoors when I was small. Didn’t you? 

There was something about the smelly dirt beneath me. I wanted to dig my hands into it hunting and finding worms.  I wanted to touch trees. I wanted to bounce from one monkey bar to the next. I wanted to imagine, and I wanted to feel alive.  

Dear Diary — Beauty exists in sparking a child’s imagination through visiting and seeing natural pieces of our world. I guess the United States government saw some value in it too because they’ve been giving out free park vouchers to fourth graders since 2019 through an initiative known as Every Kid Outdoors

Fourth grade students in the United States are eligible to take a very simple quiz. With the words “Dear Diary” brightly lit at the top of their webpage, they get to choose between different scenarios and storylines, imagining and choosing their own destinies. 

Would they like to visit the ocean? Maybe go on a walk while on a trail? It doesn’t matter what they pick. All roads lead to Rome —  but in this case, Rome might actually be a national park or American landmark instead. 

Several U.S. agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service are giving passes to students for the entirety of the 2021 to 2022 school year. The pass expires on August 31, 2022, and it includes different trip possibilities. 

If you’re into history, visiting St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos National Monument could be a great choice. If you’re into nature and walking, you might enjoy Everglades National Park instead. 

Your fourth grader will show the park ranger their pass after arriving — potentially receiving a plastic keepsake at certain sites– and enter the park for free! If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person, the pass admits all children under 16 and three adults for free. 

Don’t forget to pack water, comfortable shoes, hats, sunglasses and a map! Most importantly — don’t forget your fourth grader because that would be bad. 


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