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A Prescription for Nature

Party lights, Codorus State Park, Pennsylvania, Summer 2015

First things first, today’s post is 90% informative and 10% interpretation. There are too many notable project related events that have happened or will happen that I felt it was my duty to share it instead of blabbing off on how I feel about life. Unfortunately, NO, I have not won the lottery even though my friend, (another) Carla and I have an ongoing lottery pool. You can scratch that off the list of notable events. This is park talk to the max. It is now April and as we inch closer on the calendar to the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service (NPS) this August, they have pulled out all the stops to get us in a park and out of the house. They are making it a “no excuse” type deal. I know we have all heard the old adage, “It’s too good to be true.” However, this is too good and it is too true and you would be foolish to miss out. It is no secret that I want to convert everyone into avid outdoors and parks people. I can’t help myself from sharing how spectacular the experience can be. Think of it as me offering you a taste of my gourmet meal because it is unbelievably delicious and I simply want you to have the same astounding experience.

National Park Service PSA Video, Find Your Park courtesy of NPS
What if I told you that this Saturday until the following Saturday, you could have this unbelievable delicious meal and many more for free, absolutely free? Would you have a reason not to try it, not to go to a National Park? I get that a National Park may sound out of reach, but let us not forget that anything is possible with information and planning. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation understand how you feel and have joined forces and cut the cost and invited everyone to celebrate National Park Week for free. Keep in mind that there are also different units in the National Park System, including battlefields, historical parks and sites, and memorials. Either way folks, no matter what it is and whether or not there is a fee, April 16-24, you get in for free and you get in for free and you get in for free. My Baltimore folks, that means that you can trek right downtown to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and get in for free. Take your kids, your friend’s kids, whoever you want. If you want to drive a bit and have more of a traditional outdoor park experience you can jet to Great Falls in McLean, Virginia and be among all the splendor that is the falls. All you have to do is take a look here PlanYourVisit or here NationalParkWeek and pick and plan. There are over 400 National Parks to choose from. It is that easy. Find your park!

Our home for the weekend, Codorus State Park, Pennsylvania, Summer 2015 (Thanks Dink!)

Great, now that you have something planned for April, let us move on to your plans for May. If you thought you had options with over 400 National Parks, hold on to your seat. America’s State Parks can bet that hand and raise it. With a whopping 10,000 state park units, you have no reason to say no. That is why America’s State Parks want you to go get camping. Not a day trip, although that is a great start, but they want you sleep under the stars! On May 7, America’s State Parks will launch “Let’s Camp America!” The kickoff will be chock full of special events and activities and it all could be right in your backyard (Literally, your backyard). Let'sCampAmerica info. They too want to put their parks on the pedestals that they deserve and engage a new audience and reignite old sparks. Some parks around the country already provide the necessary camping gear and instruction for those with an adventurous newbie tent spirit in their “Learn2 Camp” programs. People, I am not making any of this up. There is a real desire by our parks to connect with us all but you won’t understand unless you get out there. It is important for them and it is more important for us, even if you don’t know it yet. The possibilities of long lasting memories are endless whether you choose a National Park or a State Park. It won’t cost you a lot of money and all it requires is your mind and spirit. Heck you will probably even enjoy it!

image courtesy of the Leslie Science and Nature Center, FLICKR
Last but not least, last week I moved my car and caught the start of the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. The topic - Environmental Outlook: New Reasons To Get Kids Outdoors. The guests were Richard Louv journalist and author of nine books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder," Jonathan Jarvis director, National Park Service and Dr. Robert Zarr pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, DC. Low and behold, I had a reason to not be irritated about having to move my car. I was pleasantly surprised that I happened to have this chance to hear this broadcast. For a while I sat in the car and listened until I made a mad dash during a commercial break back to my office where I could continuing to listen by streaming it. If you recall, I had the pleasure of hearing a keynote speech by Mr. Jarvis in 2014 at the NASPD conference where I was also invited to speak and present Everyone But Two. During his keynote, Mr. Jarvis was very passionate about creating a more inclusive park experience for all. Two years later, he is just as passionate and seems to be in constant motion, in a hundred places a week solely for the purpose of building momentum for the Centennial Celebration which will be a complete National Park extravaganza of magnificence.

Relaxing camp style, Codurus State Park, Pennsylvania, Summer 2015

You can probably guess from the title of this broadcast that the three guests discussed the importance of getting children outdoors through a solid partnership. All three have authority to discuss the significance, benefits and current initiatives. To summarize, chronic illnesses have increased among adults and children, specifically with a doubling of diabetes in children in the last 20 years. According to Dr. Zarr, “there is now a growing body of scientific evidence that we can reduce the diabetic A1Cs, we can improve asthma outcomes, we can reduce weight, increase our wellness” by spending more time outside in green, natural settings. Another concern addressed was that with the advent of the handheld technological age, the disconnect between children and nature is on the rise, which translates into a disconnect between adults and nature when this generation of children age. Naturally, the parks want to build a new constituency for support for the National Parks and Public Land and the smartest move is investing in making that connection with children. Such investments from the National Park Service have been in the form of programs like “Every Kid in a Park,” and transportation grants thru National Park Foundation for schools to take field trips and working with teachers that can include in the curriculum. Tons of other things were discussed. If you have the time, I think this is a great listen as well as informative. Related show links:

As a final note, Thomas has given the green light for our next trip and I am excited. There is nothing more I love than being on the road, waiting for the next unexpected thing that I would have never been able to envision. Mt. Rushmore, here we come!

P.S… I think I would look pretty good in a ranger uniform.

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