Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
The U.S. Forest Service and community partners have been encouraging children and their families across the country to spend time reconnecting with nature, trying new recreation activities and just having some good fun. The effort is called National Get Outdoors Day, or GO Day.
The Forest Service has a bounty of children’s programs to help connect children to their natural environment, all of which support two key priorities of the Obama administration: President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative that seeks to connect people to the outdoors and creates partnerships between the federal government and American communities on conservation issues; and the Let’s Move! Outside campaign launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, which strives to offset childhood obesity through outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles. The agency also has collaborated with the Ad Council to develop a new public service announcement called “Unplug,” which is part of Discover the Forest campaign. Nationwide, more than 80 Forest Service locations will be providing free recreational and educational activities. Many events are designed to better engage urban and multicultural youth in nature-based activities and attract first-time visitors to public lands.
Here are some of the national highlights . . .
California: The Forest Service partnered with East Bay Regional Park for a Healthy Parks Healthy People Festival at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area. ”This is the first year we’ve celebrated Get Outdoors Day in the Bay Area and we hope to continue to do it,” said Tim Williams, Conservation Education Coordinator. The popular “Kid’s Zone” featured information about the importance of water, wildlife, minerals, camping and enjoying the outdoors. After “graduating” the youth were happy to receive their Junior Ranger badges and a Go Day T-shirt.
Colorado: Thousands of kids and families attended Denver’s GO Day event enjoying a range of outdoor activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, canoeing and more. An elated father said his children caught their first fish and it is an experience they will never forget. Other memorable events were kids who learned how to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time. Local news anchor Jim Benneman launched a fitness walk, and the Denver Bronco Cheerleaders led a large crowd with the help of two recent Mullen Highschool graduates, to Beyonce’s Move Your Body dance, which was developed in support of Let’s Move!
Alabama: The event at Munford Elementary School is an extension of the ongoing partnership to enhance environmental education (they are one of the six Forest Service adopted schools nationwide). The Town of Munford uses the event to celebrate their founder’s day. This is also an opportunity to highlight several of our volunteers, plus give the surrounding communities the chance to learn about what they can do and see in the National Forests and the Great Outdoors nearby. Other activities included, leaving no trace, ATV use, hiking, archery, photography, hunting, turkey calling, archaeology, science camp activities, 4H activities, and wildlife viewing.
Wisconsin: Milwaukee’s picturesque lakefront was the backdrop for the city’s Gathering Waters Fest Get Outdoors Day event. The daylong free activities showcased kayaking, canoeing, rock wall climbing, fishing, boating and biking. There were also water, energy, gardening and geocaching tents along with great food and music. Thanks to a free shuttle provided from the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, residents from some of Milwaukee’s underserved neighborhoods were able to attend. Visits from Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl were a big hit with children of all ages. www.gatheringwatersfest.org
Washington State: Over 2000 people, many of them families with young children, got moving outside at Vancouver, Washington’s GO Day event. There was walking, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, hurling (game similar to lacrosse), Frisbee golf, biking and bicycle maintenance. Several former contestants from NBC’s The Biggest LoserTM TV show were on hand leading a group on a 2-mile morning walk. They also led outdoor exercise routines.
For more information, visit http://americasgreatoutdoors.gov.