National Get Outdoors Day Overview

Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the U.S. Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. National Get Outdoors Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to create a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.

June 14, 2008 marked the inaugural National Get Outdoors Day. Over 50 official National Get Outdoors Day sites across the nation from Anacostia Park in Washington, D.C. to the Big Bear Discovery Center in the San Bernardino National Forest welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. Participating partners offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities.

Each National Get Outdoors Day event offered a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, could use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites offered photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. In addition, National Get Outdoors Day events encouraged partners like the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the National Park Service WebRangers to recruit youth to become part of programs and organizations designed to strengthen their connection to the outdoors.

National Get Outdoors Day had tremendous support from partners across the country. They were grateful for the opportunity to combat the sedentary lifestyles that are affecting the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of today’s youth.

The inaugural National Get Outdoors Day (NGOD) accomplishments are impressive:

American Recreation Coalition Announces 2008 Beacon Award Winners

Washington, D.C. - Six 2008 Beacon Awards, representing outstanding efforts in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management, were presented by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) at the opening reception for Great Outdoors Week on Monday, June 9. The awards were presented by ARC Vice Chairman Richard Coon at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

28 State Governors and the President Proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month

June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President George Bush and more than half of America’s governors. The proclamations were sought by a coalition of dozens of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinate special events held during June, including National Trails Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day and the Great American Backyard Campout.

President Bush’s proclamation, issued for the fifth year in succession, was released “to honor those who work to keep our natural places beautiful and to celebrate some of our country’s favorite outdoor pastimes.” The President goes on to “call on all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to take time to visit and enjoy the great outdoors.”

ARC Salutes Legends Award Winners

Washington, D.C. — The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) presents its 2008 Legends Awards to seven federal managers in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. The awards will be presented on June 11, 2008 during Great Outdoors Week – ARC’s celebration of the value and importance of outdoor recreation. Initiated by ARC in 1991, the Legends Award program involves seven federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Each agency nominates an individual whose extraordinary personal efforts have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources.

Recipients of the 2008 Legends Awards are Mark Lowans, Bureau of Land Management; Pedro “Pete” Lucero, Bureau of Reclamation; Pete Gonzalez, Federal Highway Administration; Garry Traynham, National Park Service; Brad Keshlear, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bennie Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dennis Krusac, U.S. Forest Service. ARC is honored to present a posthumus Lifetime Achievement Legends Award to John Keys, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, in recognition of his outstanding achievements to support outdoor recreation experiences for families and especially children.

A Great Start for National Get Outdoors Day

The National Get Outdoors Day (NGOD) preview event treated children and their families from the Washington, D.C. metro area to a day of free, healthy outdoor fun. The Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Snyder hosted the Saturday, May 31st event and more than a dozen national and regional organizations partnered to provide diverse outdoor activities and information on where to get outdoors and how to take care of public lands and waters. The event also served as a pilot for more than 45 sites across the nation where official National Get Outdoors Day events will occur on June 14th, helping America’s kids get off the couch, away from computers and involved in healthy and active outdoor adventures.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne Named as 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award Recipient

Washington, D.C. – The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, has been selected by a distinguished panel of more than 100 recreation and conservation community leaders across the nation to be honored as the recipient of the 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. Since 1989, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has presented this prestigious award to an individual whose “personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America.” America’s recreation community leaders recognized Secretary Kempthorne’s efforts as enhancing the experience of millions in the Great Outdoors today and long into the future.

Secretary Kempthorne was a recreation champion during his service in the U.S. Senate where he led successful efforts to create a sustainable funding source for building and maintaining trails and promoted balance between resource protection and outdoor fun. The award also recognizes the Secretary’s championship of recreation programs during his two terms as Governor of Idaho and his remarkable leadership as the nation’s Secretary of the Interior. In addition to tangible successes in park funding and his national leadership of efforts to increase outdoor activities by American youth, Secretary Kempthorne has brought about fundamental changes in the relationships among national interests in the environmental, conservation and recreation arenas. The new cooperation and conversation will have a lasting benefit for the shared legacy of parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. The recreation community also applauds the Secretary’s support for the Take Pride in America program and its messages of volunteerism and responsible use of the outdoors.

The Role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Recreation

The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) was delighted to welcome Mike Ensch, Chief of Operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Directorate of Civil Works, as the special guest for the May 2008 Recreation Exchange. Mr. Ensch focused his remarks on the factors impacting the Corps’ ability to continue offering outstanding recreation experiences. The USACE manages over 460 lakes, mostly in eastern urban areas, said Mr. Ensch. “We have a tremendous number of visitors,” remarked Mr. Ensch. Currently, the Corps manages 56,000 miles of shoreline and hosts nearly 400 million recreation visits annually.

Mr. Ensch addressed the intense competition for recreation resource funding. “With the President’s agenda to balance the budget by 2012, support the War on Terror and now provide economic stimulus, where will the funding for our recreation operations and infrastructure come from?” he asked. Mr. Ensch predicted that the recent increase in gas prices will create an “interesting difficulty for us,” as families put off cross-country trips and stay closer to home, increasing the visitation to the Corps’ near-urban projects.

American Recreation Coalition’s Podcast Project Selected As National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project

April 25, 2008 - (Washington, D.C.) Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary Bomar, a potent group of Members of Congress and a large group of park supporters to announce 110 national park projects and programs, funded by private and public funds, under President Bush’s National Park Centennial Challenge Initiative. For 2008, Congress appropriated $24.6 million for the Centennial Challenge Fund and the private sector responded with nearly $27 million in matching contributions, totaling $51 million for the projects announced on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

National Get Outdoors Day Preview Announced

A preview of the first-ever National Get Outdoors Day will be held in the Washington, D.C. suburbs on May 31, two weeks before events will be held across the nation to help all Americans – and especially American families with children – discover opportunities for healthy fun. The preview will be hosted by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America at Camp William B. Snyder with the involvement of dozens of national and regional organizations.

National Get Outdoors Day, which promotes the fun and value of time outdoors, is a signature event of “Great Outdoors Month,” the designation given annually to June by the White House and governors across the United States. For the last two decades, Americans have turned indoors and to less physically active leisure pursuits. Visits to national parks and most other public recreation sites have declined and obesity has increased rapidly among the American people, with significant health consequences, including projections of life expectancy declines of 2-5 years for today’s youth. The USDA Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition have each pledged $100,000 to the inaugural National Get Outdoors Day in an effort to reconnect children and nature and to reverse these dangerous trends.

National Park Service Deputy Director Lindi L. Harvey Addresses the Centennial Initiative and Youth Outreach Efforts

Lindi L. Harvey, National Park Service Deputy Director, spoke to the April 2008 Recreation Exchange. Deputy Director Harvey focused her remarks on the National Park Service Centennial Initiative and her agency’s efforts to reconnect today’s youth to the parks. Ms. Harvey applauded the Recreation Exchange participants’ partnerships with the National Park Service and called on the group to further lend their expertise in moving forward the Centennial legislation and supporting youth-outreach projects.