Outdoor family fun this summer doesn’t have to cost a bundle. There are quite a few programs available that offer families access to some of what they need in order to have a great day or evening enjoying nature. Here’s a quick rundown on five of them:
Free National Park Access
Families living within driving distance of a national park may want to take notice. There are several times a year that America’s National Parks waive admission fees. One of them traditionally takes place in June. Those interested in taking advantage of the program can find a list of participating parks and dates posted on the National Park Service’s website. I have taken advantage of the program myself on previous occasions and would recommend it to others.
Free State Park Access
There are also some state parks that have an arrangement with their state libraries to offer free park passes to residents with a library card. Georgia is one of them. Personally, I love the program. In most instances, it is free to sign up for a library card and it costs nothing to sign out the pass with your card. As such, parents may want to check with their local library to see if their state has such a program.
First Time Camper Program
Families that have never gone camping before may want to take advantage of the first-time camper program offered at many state parks and recreational areas. There are several states that I know of that have such a program. They are Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Most of the programs give families a chance to borrow tent camping gear and stay at the park for an incredibly low price. The first-time camper program run by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources even throws in the use of fishing poles and marshmallow sticks. If you ask me, you can’t beat the value.
Fishing Tackle Loaner Program
Fishing is a wonderful activity for children to engage in during the summer months. Parents may not realize it but there are places that do offer free use of a fishing rod, reel and tackle. The only thing typically not included in the deal is the bait. Most fishing tackle loaner programs are found within state parks and historical sites. A few of the states that have tackle loaner programs are Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and South Carolina. The best way to find out if your state park or historical site has such a program is to give them a call.
Life Jacket Loaner Programs
One of the most important things that children should be wearing when they get onto a boat this summer is a life jacket. Families that don’t have the money needed to purchase a life jacket may want to find out if there is a life jacket loaner program in operation in their area. Life jacket loaner programs are generally set up by organizations or government agencies. Most provide children with an opportunity to borrow a life jacket so they can enjoy a safe and entertaining day on the water. One of the first places parents should go to find out if there is a program in their area is the BoatU.S. Foundation website. The organization is behind several life jacket loaner programs all across the United States.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys summer sports and recreation with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
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