Paying kids to go play outside

A parent using the occasional bribe to coerce good child behavior is one thing, but this is ridiculous. Now the Department of Natural Resources is effectively paying kids to go outside and play via their No Child Left Inside program, which awarded $1.3 million to 153 organizations in 2022. Don’t worry if you missed the boat — nominations are currently open for another round of 2023 grants.

Speaking of nominations, the DNR and their No Child Left Inside program is hereby nominated for a Golden Turkey award.

Once upon a time, parents encouraged their own kids to play outside. Believe it or not, most kids played outside voluntarily! But people love to hand things over to the government, so now we need a state program to do it for us.

The grant program was inspired by Gov. Tim Walz’s Children’s Cabinet and their Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which states that “each and every Minnesota child is entitled to experience outdoor recreational activities and discover the natural environment regardless of where they live, learn, or play.” One of the 15 enumerated rights is the right to “explore and play outdoors in a safe, welcoming, and culturally affirming place.” Question: is the backyard a culturally affirming place? Asking as a taxpayer for a friend.

The Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights also guarantees the right to plant a tree and watch it grow. There are a few questions to be raised here. Like, will the government provide the tree? And exactly how long should a good citizen watch it grow?

Many of the 153 grants went to school districts for outdoor programming they were likely already providing to students. Ice fishing was a popular activity for grant makers, with $45,000 going to the Big Fish and Fry High School Ice Fishing League and $6,000 going to White Bear Lake Schools for their Ice Fishing Club Field Day, during which some kids presumably walked to White Bear Lake and went ice fishing. That’s good, because that clearly could never have happened without the state government’s help.

Grants were also given for environmental education, since children have the right to “protect and preserve our environment for future generations.” St. Raphael Catholic School in Springfield received $2,548 for environmental field trips. Wait a minute… are those vouchers for private schools?

All jokes aside, the next time a governor or legislator tells you 1) we can’t cut taxes, 2) schools are underfunded, or 3) people are suffering from a lack of proper health care, show them this post. Clearly, we have money to burn if there is a state grant program whose sole purpose is to encourage children to play outside.

The No Child Left Inside program of the Minnesota DNR is duly nominated for a Golden Turkey.

Should the $1.3 million to pay kids to go outside win this year’s Golden Turkey Award? Don’t forget to cast your vote!