Every Kid in a (National) Park!

Every Kid in a Park Offers 4th Graders a National Park Free-for-All!

During the 2015-2016 school year, families of 4th graders can gain free access to all of the country’s fantastic national parks! Whether by exploring Massachusetts’ historic sites and national seashore or dreaming about mountainous parks out west, families can engage in both experiential and inspired learning about the treasures our park system has to offer.

Just because summer is quickly waning doesn’t mean that family adventures have to come to an end – and why should they, when national parks have been more accessible to families than ever before! Thanks to the Every Kid in a Park initiative, families that include a 4th grade student (or a home- or un-schooled child of the equivalent age) can visit any of the United States’ national parks for free during the 2015-2016 school year. Every Kid in a Park gives families opportunities to engage experientially in studies of the natural and cultural history of our country, and helps to promote nature-based play and learning by inspiring families to explore the outdoors.

While Massachusetts is not home to any national parks showcasing vast tracts of unique land, the state is filled with national historic sites that speak to the role the state has played in American history – particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries. Locally, the Springfield Armory offers a military history immersion experience within day-trip distance of all of western Massachusetts. In addition to historic sites, a full list of Massachusetts parks reveals natural gems such as the Cap Cod National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands, locations that afford visitors the opportunity to explore the state’s Atlantic coastline. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Camping Grows Respect for Nature

Great American Backyard Campout invites families to camp outdoors, even if it is in their own backyard

Get up close and personal with nature with you family via camping…even if it’s just in your own backyard!

One of the most classic summertime adventures is a weekend of camping. Those of us who went camping as children likely have fond memories (or cautionary tales!) of sleeping in a tent, cooking over a fire or camp stove, and spending full days exploring outside, collecting treasures, and building forts and nature sculptures. It’s likely, too, that many of our readers have made a commitment to sharing these experiences with our children – taking them to sleep outside, teaching them basic survival skills, and giving them small-scale adventures similar to those we enjoyed as kids. And it’s a good thing that so many of us do so – studies have shown that people who are given the opportunity to explore nature as children are far more likely to grow up to have a respect for nature and to support environmentally conscious behaviors.

This month, the National Wildlife Federation offers families a chance to experience the magic of camping together, while also helping to raise money for the organization’s wild-life saving conservation efforts. This year’s Great American Backyard Campout takes place in late June, and calls for families to spend a night camping out together – even if it’s just in their own backyard. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS National Parks Episode with Guest DJ, NPS Ranger Jeff Wolin (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show
National Parks Episode
with Guest DJ, Jeff Wolin

Listen to Podcast:

Join Guest DJ, National Parks Service Ranger Jeff Wolin (aka Ranger Jeff) from his ranger station in the mountains of Colorado for a musical tour of our National Parks. While families are dancing and singing, everyone will get a musical exploration of  Mount Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, the Washington Mall, and even raft down the Colorado River!

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
July 20th & 21st, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO: In this video, the National Park Service’s Youth Ambassador Program in New Bedford, MA encourages youth to disconnect from technology and connect outdoors with the New England National Scenic Trail!

 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter


  • Committed- “Down on the Mall” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Daryl Simpson, Ceol Ceili, Omagh  Choir – “New Bedford Whaling” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Youth Ambassador Program (YAP) – “Wapiti Hoppity” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Trout Fishing in America – “Thaddeus Kosciuszko Polka” – [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Johnette Downing – “Four Presidents” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Bruce Barnes – “The Airmen of Tuskegee” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Monty Hall – “Microbe Hunter” [Songs from the Science Frontier]
  • Erica Falls – “Frozen Bulldozin'” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Ted Newman – “Great Sonoran Desert” [Songs for Kids]
  • Jim Salestrom – “In the Grand Canyon” [Music from the Grand Canyon]
  • Krishel Augustine – “Junior Ranger” [Songs for Junior Rangers]
  • Billy B. – “Wild Wetlands” [Romp in the Swamp]
  • The Banana Slug String Band – “Walking the Tetons” [Goin’ Wild!]
  • Aaron Nigel Smith – “Run, Fish, Run” [Songs for Junior Rangers]

Discover more Junior Ranger music & resources, courtesy the National Parks Service:

  • Listen to Junior Ranger Radio
  • Watch Videos of Junior Ranger Music
  • Download Junior Ranger Music
  • Learn about “Songs for Junior Rangers,” the Junior Ranger Music Album
  • Play games and become a Webranger

Free Access to National Parks

Free Access to National Parks

Summer is a time for exploring, and what better day trip than to explore a national park right here in Massachusetts? It’s local, it’s educational, and it won’t bust your budget!

For families with disabled kids, visiting a national park can be a real nice adventure. You can expose your child to all sorts of new experiences (from outdoor scenery and sounds to historical monuments), plus, since the parks are here in our state, you don’t have to worry about traveling too far or spending the night in a hotel, which can be tough for some families.

There are many parks in Massachusetts. Just check their website to locate one near you. Over here in Boston, we love the Harbor Islands which includes an exciting boat ride out to the islands. And on August 1st the Toe Jam Puppet Band will be playing a set of free environmental concerts on Georges Island. That sounds like a fun day!

And here’s even better news: It’s possible for you to obtain a free pass to all the National Parks in the U.S.!

Here’s the info:

The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.

Documentation is required to obtain the pass. Acceptable documentation includes: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee
areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free).

The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Access Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

Visit their site for more info: www.nps.gov/pub_aff/access/access_pass.htm

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Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com.

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