The school year hasn't even started yet, and so far it's awesome to be a 4th grader.

And parents, if you're lucky enough to have a 4th grader in the family like me, that's worth a free ticket to places like the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The whole family gets in free! Here's how it works.

National Parks have the Every Kid in a Park program going on for the next year, and we just need a 4th grader to get in on it.

Between September 2017 and August 2018, 4th graders can print out a pass and get free admission into national parks and federal lands, not only for themselves but for their families too.

Why 4th graders? says they chose fourth graders because "research shows that kids ages nine to 11 are beginning to learn about the world around them. They're open to new ideas, and they are likely to connect to nature and our history."

They also that they're not trying to leave other kids out.  Since they offer the pass to fourth graders every year, eventually the younger ones will become old enough to get a free pass to explore too.  Parents will be riding all of those kids' coattails.

National Parks in Texas include Waco Mammoth National Monument, Padre Island National Seashore, LBJ National Historical Park in Johnson City, and Big Thicket National Preserve in Beaumont.  Take your pick!  And then take your 4th grader.  But the program suggests we call ahead to make sure that park is accepting the passes, because not every one of them will.

Fourth graders can start by filling out a diary with places they'd like to see and things they'd like to do, and then they can print the pass and plan the trip.  They will feel like the guest of honor on the family trip, and parents appreciate the free access.  This is cool.

What's next?  Can a 5-year old get us into a water park?  If it happens, we'll let ya know

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