Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry are again teaming up to host the 5th Annual National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) on June 9 to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation.
According to a press release, these diverse partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.
Each GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, can use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites will provide photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. Many sites also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition.
In addition to the GO Day events, participants will be invited to nearby follow-up activities called EchO events occurring throughout the summer, which include introductions to mountain biking and fly-fishing, hikes with rangers to see wildlife, kayaking and rafting and much more.
The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Last year, over 50 official GO Day sites across the nation from Anacostia Park in Washington, D.C., to the Big Bear Discovery Center in the San Bernardino National Forest in California welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors.
The U.S. Forest Service is encouraging kids and their families to reconnect with nature and have fun by participating in the 4th annual National Get Outdoors Day on June 11.
The event, known as ‘GO Day,’ is an effort to “attract new, diverse communities to outdoor activities and to motivate kids to explore their national forests and other public lands,” according to a press release.
“GO day provides a great opportunity for kids big and small to get up close and personal with our country’s amazing forests and grasslands,” said U.S. Forest Chief Tom Tidwell. “As the school year comes to a close, it’s time to get out and enjoy America’s wondrous lands and waterways. These early activities help bring families together, create lasting memories and instill a lifelong appreciation for our natural surroundings.”
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 national campaign of public service announcements to ‘Re-connect Kids with Nature’.
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.
National signature events will take place at locations listed below and were selected based on impressive partnership initiatives generating a large array of innovative and interactive activities and a significant number of expected participants:
• Kingman Island in Washington, D.C.
• Denver City Park in Denver, Colo.
• National Children’s Forest in San Bernardino, Calif.
• Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minn.
• Canyon Rim Park in Salt Lake City, Utah
• Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver,
In response to a request for comments by the federal Task Force on Childhood Obesity regarding ways to stem the epidemic of obesity in American children, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon submitted recommendations last month that outline the health benefits of RVing and encourage an increase in RVing among American families.
The full text of Coon’s comments, as published in the current issue of RVIA Today Express, are reprinted below.
“The Task Force goals of encouraging children to eat healthy, affordable food and engage in more physical activity are directly supported by the outdoor recreation and camping experiences enjoyed by recreation vehicle (RV) owners.
In a February 2010 study by Harris Interactive, 81% of RV owners said that children who RV spend less time on sedentary activities like TV and video games. 72% of RV owners also stated that traveling by RV helps families make healthier eating choices during vacations, because they are able to purchase and prepare their own foods, affordably, on the road. 74% of owners surveyed by RVIA in its March 2010 “Campfire Canvass” survey said they are more active on RV vacations than on other types of family vacation.
To meet your objective of increasing physical activity in communities, we encourage the Task Force to recommend that federal, state and local governments take action to promote recreation visits to the nation’s parks. This should include development of policies to ensure that public lands offer access and facilities to RV visitors, thereby facilitating the healthful vacation experiences enjoyed by the nation’s 30 million RVing families.
We further recommend that the Task Force embrace key events like Great Outdoors Month in June and National Get Outdoors Day to encourage healthy activities that will appeal to children throughout their lives — because they are fun. The First Family should be invited to embrace these events and outdoor activities through personal involvement.
Another important action the Task Force can take to help increase physical activity is to put a new focus on recommended steps/activities per day by setting a specific goal, and suggesting activities at all federal recreation sites to achieve this goal. For example, a national park, forest or wildlife refuge – all popular destinations for RV travelers — could list walking trails as fulfilling a certain percentage of daily recommended activities for families.
To meet the objective of empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families, we encourage the Task Force to coordinate the development of and promote to the public an online public-private sector clearinghouse of healthy lifestyle resources. This should include outdoor recreation and RV camping sites such as GoRVing.com. We further suggest that the Task Force work with RVIA and other RV organizations to encourage RV owners with grandchildren to take them to fun outdoor recreation sites where physical activity is the focus.
To build major public support for the goals of increasing physical activity and healthy eating, we recommend in closing that the First Lady lead a national “Get Healthy Outdoors” campaign — much like the “See America First” campaign headed by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in the 1960s to encourage visits to national parks and other American destinations.
Thank you for this opportunity to provide input on the important work of the Task Force of Childhood Obesity.”