Every Kid in a Park


We’re currently recovering from a week-long family vacation touring Northern California.

My husband planned this trip (!!!!) after we heard about the National Parks Service’s Every Kid in a Park program that gives every fourth grader (and his or her family) free access to our country’s national parks, in honor of the system’s centennial anniversary. 

In a week, we covered 1,200 miles, nine national parks, two California state parks, two aquariums and two popular tourist destinations tourist attractions. We are all still speaking to each other, despite what I will call The Gas Incident, or You Should Really Do What Your Wife Asks You, It Will Save a Lot of Trouble in the Long Run, Volume 352426.

Because it’s summer, and because the parks received a boost of publicity when the President visited several the week before we were there, many were crowded. Preserving and maintaining these spaces is not big on Congress’ to-do list (although Not Working is currently the only item on Congress’ to-do list), so more restroom facilities and personnel are needed to make things a little more visitor-friendly.

As a rule, all of the park rangers we encountered were awesome. The one who admitted us to Yosemite treated my daughter, the fourth grader, as if she were a rock star, complete with high-fives and shouted encouragement. One who took us on a tour of Point Reyes describing Native American life there patiently listened while my son described the different variety of trees in Minecraft. (To my son’s credit, he wasn’t talking about butts. Baby steps!)

I prefer national parks to entertainment parks, even though I still got sunburned.

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Every Kid in a Park

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