On ‘Kids to Parks’ Day, a day of fresh air and fun

On Saturday, children flocked to Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Va., for National Kids to Parks Day. There was a pond dip and other activities. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

LORTON, Va. — Parents across the country unplugged their kids from electronics and went to the park on Saturday for some fresh air.

It was the fourth annual “National Kids to Parks Day,” which has become the national kick-off for summertime events at local, state and national parks.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is [to] get children outside, in the parks, in nature having fun,” says David Gunnells, chief ranger at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Va.

Gunnells hopes the day will encourage children to get outdoors more often.

“It’s a day that we dedicate to get kids to come out to the park and connect with nature,” says Jennifer Simms, a park interpreter at Mason Neck State Park.

Among the nature-based programs is the pond dip, in which the children get a little wet and dirty, although they’re armed with nets and boots.

“We going to take a net and scoop it into the mud, which is kind of stinky,” Simms says. “We have dragon fly nymphs, things that people probably have never seen before.” After the dip, the children learn about what they’ve found.

There’s also a recycling themed program at the park, Gunnells says: “We’re taking two-liter soda bottles and turning them into water powered rockets. Kids have fun and get sprayed with a little water as the rockets go up.”

If you visit Mason Neck Park, there’s also a good chance you’ll see a Bald Eagle flying above. For those who missed today’s festivities, June 14 is “National Get Outdoors Day.”

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