Last year, the National Recreation and Park Association brought us "Rock Your Park" as the theme for July, designated as Park and Recreation Month. This year, with the countdown to the end of the school year going strong among kids, NRPA has released its new campaign, "GET WILD about parks."

While the 2011 theme invited kids and adults to send videos of themselves rocking out in their parks, this year's is all about alliteration: "wild workouts and wellness to wet and wild at the pool, to wild with nature."

Whew.

As with last year, the NRPA is helping parks promote their July activities with a designated home page that includes posters, a social media toolkit and more. There's also a way for recreation personnel to list park events they'd like to highlight.

NRPA wants to hear about everything from summer-long rec leagues and day camps to one-day conservation programs or sports events. With the Summer Olympics coming up, it's a great opportunity to introduce kids to some of the sports they'll be seeing on TV.

I'm a big fan of park and rec programs - they're some of the best ways I know to get kids outside and teach them about the great things awaiting them once they unplug. They generally cost far less than private camps and other day programs, and with so many great park systems everywhere, they're accessible to kids in urban settings, rural areas and everything in between.

Problem is, promotion needs to start now if parents are going to get interested. It's hard to get people to carve out a chunk of their time to review all the options available, so the sooner events get on the board, the better the chances are that parents and kids can become aware of them.

Pretty soon, kids everywhere will be flooding into their neighborhood parks for rec leagues, pool time, pickup games and plain old summer fun. Let's all help them have a wild time once they get there.