The nation’s top elected officials don’t seem to agree on much – but they completely agree that Americans need to spend more time in the nation’s parks, forests, refuges and other public spaces. Proclaimed by the President and each governor, Great Outdoors Month is a bipartisan celebration of America’s abundant and diverse outdoor recreation resources and the passion Americans have for conservation and volunteerism.
Great Outdoors Month has expanded, mirroring growth in outdoor recreation, which now generates more than $650 billion annually, and focuses public and private attention on the splendor and beauty of our shared natural resources. Champions of the month also note the contribution of time outdoors to mental and physical health.
Events across the country celebrate Great Outdoors Month and help Americans respond to calls by the President and the governors to hike, bike, fish, camp, boat and otherwise enjoy the outdoors. The events include: free fishing opportunities and more during National Fishing and Boating Week (June 1st – 8th); thousands of work and fun events on American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day (June 7th); National Marina Day and National Get Outdoors Day, both offering easy introductions to outdoor fun (June 14th); National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout (June 28th); and more. See information on Great Outdoors Month events at www.greatoutdoorsmonth.org.
National partners including The Coleman Company, OFF! and hundreds of federal, state, corporate and nonprofit organizations support Great Outdoors Month’s goal to connect all Americans with our Great Outdoors, even reaching those who rarely get outdoors for healthy, active fun. Most enjoyment of the Great Outdoors comes through visits to public lands and waters covering one-third of the nation, including state and national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and federally managed lakes. Yet many younger and urban Americans have trouble identifying fun outdoors things to do and where to go. With little marketing and promotion and easily overlooked signage, public recreation places are nearly invisible. Great Outdoors Month supporters seek to change that through social media and websites like www.recreation.gov and www.americasstateparks.org.
Coleman is helping families find the outdoors by “setting up camp” at many Walmart stores. Coleman’s “Ranger Days” Tour features Coleman rangers, joined by representatives from state and federal land management agencies, highlighting America’s vast outdoor recreation resources. Scouts will lead campsite demos and agency and not-for-profit partners will share “where to” and “how to” information.
Four Governors are holding Great Outdoors Month Capital Campouts, welcoming urban youth and families to camp out on the grounds of their governor’s residence or in a nearby state park. 2014’s hosts are Governors Sam Brownback (KS), Nathan Deal (GA), John Hickenlooper (CO) and Jay Inslee (WA).
Great Outdoors Month partners include America’s State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, American Recreation Coalition, American Hiking Society, the National Wildlife Federation and many others. To read the proclamations of Great Outdoors Month, go to www.greatoutdoorsmonth.org.
Image courtesy Great Outdoors Month